How should a manager approach condo rule enforcement?
Condominium managers are faced with many challenges, but the most significant is dealing with people. Managers must never forget they are working in or around someone’s living or work space, making any communication with owners or residents incredibly personal.
The word “reasonable” appears 66 times in the current Condominium Act. It would therefore be reasonable for condominium managers to approach rules enforcement with due consideration to the way in which they communicate with owners and residents.
Given that the rules themselves must be reasonable, the manager is already ahead in that they are making a reasonable request for the individuals to comply. But in some condominium corporations, the rules may be outdated. It is best for the manager to review all rules with the board of directors, at least every three years, to ensure that rules are still applicable and enforceable. If some are not, the corporation should follow section 58 of the Condominium Act, which outlines how boards can amend and repeal rules in order to make the appropriate changes.
If a rule is reasonable and still in force, condominium managers should consider how their approach to rules enforcement would be received by the offending owner or resident. Even the most informal suggestion of behavioural redirection can be taken as an insult, so managers must choose their timing and location carefully.
The first offence is generally one carried out due to ignorance of the rules. A friendly personal information “meeting” often works best in these circumstances. Owners and residents will generally appreciate the redirection in a private setting, where a conversation can be confidential and informal but instructive. The manager can also provide the owner or resident with a copy of the current rules for their future edification.
A second offence should no longer be considered an accident. For a repeat offence, a formal written reminder must be sent to the owner or resident. If the incident is serious enough, management should point out the consequences of continued violations, including mediation or further legal action.
A third offence is generally the point at which the corporation has its solicitor write a last letter, outlining all the consequences of the owner or resident’s actions, including setting out cost considerations for mediation and other legal interventions.
Although condominium managers are communicating enforcement requirements, they must be careful not to take an aggressive or personal position. The manager is merely requesting compliance with a rule created by others, just as a police officer writes a speeding ticket. It’s their job.
Lastly, if a condominium manager believes the enforcement of a rule is unreasonable, he or she should advise the board of directors of this and seek their advice and direction.
Robert Weinberg, M.B.A., has been in the condominum management field for 32 years and is currently the president and CEO of Percel Inc. His firm now manages over 55 condominium communities across Ontario, comprising more than 5,500 units.