Property managers have challenging jobs. They are responsible for coordinating the maintenance of the building, supervising outside contractors for any major projects, keeping in close communication with the board of directors, and managing the daily issues that arise. With many irons in the fire, monthly board meetings can be an extensive amount of work to prepare for.
Since property managers are the ones who are most aware of all of the activity that is happening in the condo, it would seem natural for them to also keep the minutes of the board meeting. However, there are many reasons that the manager may not be the best person for the job.
When aspects of the property manager’s job are being questioned or challenged by board members, it can be difficult to keep impartial and professional minutes. However, it is essential for information to be conveyed without bias or emotion. It would be nice if every board of directors got along harmoniously and worked together, but this is not always the case. Residents need to know that they are getting the impartial truth and will not have to question what they are reading.
It is easy to get caught up in the “he said, she said” of board meetings. However, minutes from board meetings are not a transcript of every word that was said. In properly formatted minutes, things like decisions, approvals, and motions need to be included. Of course, there are things that need to be left on the cutting room floor (e.g., “he said, she said,” table fodder, personal opinions or preferences, etc.). It is also important that minutes are recorded in a proper format that makes the document easily readable, understandable, and consistent from month to month. As well, points need to be laid out clearly and succinctly to avoid reader misinterpretations. Property managers have tremendously demanding jobs. If they are responsible for taking the minutes, it’s possible that editing and formatting may take a back seat to other priorities that require more immediate attention. This, as well as other factors, can cause a delay in their completion and accuracy.
Active vs. passive participation
Robert’s Rules of Order is a parliamentary model for conducting board meetings which provides procedures and rules that permit a deliberative assembly to come up with efficient decisions. It is used by many types of organizations, including the United Nations. Robert’s rules suggest that minute takers are not to be active participants in the conversation.
Minutes that will stand up in court
Minutes are an official and legal record of a meeting. Having properly documented minutes is required under the Condominium Act. Unfortunately, there are times when minutes are required in the event of a lawsuit. No one wants their corporation to be liable because of minutes that were not taken properly. Clear and concise minutes will only help a corporation in the case of a potential lawsuit.
CMRAO Code of Ethics
The Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO) is a self-funded non-profit corporation that is accountable to the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS). This corporation helps managers and management companies by providing protection in the increasingly popular condo market in Ontario. The Code of Ethics gives the rules that condo managers and management companies need to follow. One of the requirements covered by the Code attempts to prevent fraud, error, or conflict of interest. Having a manager or board member take the minutes can be a conflict of interest.
Sharing the responsibility
There are numerous reasons managers should avoid taking minutes. But who should take over? One option is to use a board secretary or another board member to record the minutes. Although it is not ideal, it is a better option than having it fall to the busy property manager. Another option is to consider a third-party professional to record the minutes for your meetings. This will ensure unbiased and honest records about the decisions the board is making. Moreover, using a minute-taking professional will give residents confidence and trust in their condominium board and manager. Whatever the decision, it’s important that minute-taking is done responsibly, both to ensure the integrity of the board and to keep residents content. After all, happy residents ultimately make the job of a property manager much easier.
Marko Lindhe and Noah Maislin, Founders of Minutes Solutions Inc. (minutessolutions.com)