If you’re researching condos for sale in the Ottawa area, your focus shouldn’t be limited to finding the perfect unit in the right neighbourhood. Buying a condo means that you are also investing in how well the condominium corporation’s board of directors is protecting your financial, legal and practical interests as well as those of all other condo owners.

 

One condo board, many responsibilities

The condo board—also known as the board of directors—is a group of people who have been elected by owners to represent them in all matters related to managing and funding the “common elements”—from the exterior of your unit to walkways, parking, landscaping, and trees. In general, the responsibilities of a condo board include:

  • creating an annual operating budget
  • developing a reserve fund plan
  • overseeing deposits to and withdrawals from the operating and reserve funds
  • collecting common expenses from owners
  • ensuring the common elements are maintained (impacting quality of life and curb appeal)
  • enforcing provincial laws related to condos, as well as condo-specific bylaws and rules
  • preparing the status certificate
  • hearing from and communicating with owners
  • hiring service providers, contractors and counsel as needed to help them fulfill these and other responsibilities

Having a good understanding of each of these duties will help you evaluate whether the condo board is meeting all of its commitments.

A poorly run board could have serious consequences

The condo board is the gatekeeper of your money and your home’s value. If the board is inexperienced, makes poor decisions or has different priorities than you do, you could be left with rising maintenance fees, unexpected special assessments, declining or neglected property standards, a mismanaged budget, lawsuits by owners against the condo corporation, and more. Study your condo board’s track record to help you decide whether it meets your expectations.

 

Ask owners what they think

If possible, talk to a few of the existing owners about the board. What strengths and weaknesses do board members have? Do they keep owners informed about issues? Do owners feel comfortable approaching the board about concerns? The answers you get will offer clues about whether the board is doing its job.

An even better way to protect your investment is to consider running for a seat on the condo board. In Part 2, we’ll discuss the benefits of holding such a position and the things you need to consider before taking that step.