Regulator will not actively seek complaints

CMRAO to adopt compliance attitude in addressing condo manager conduct
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
By Michelle Ervin

As mandatory licensing launches this week, condo managers and condo management companies will likely be relieved to learn that the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO) will not be fishing for concerns about licensees.

“We’re not actively seeking complaints,” said Aubrey LeBlanc, chair of the CMRAO’s board of directors, speaking at a CAI Canada seminar about condo manager licensing last week. “We could spend lots of money on promoting the issue. We are not planning to do that.”

The CMRAO plans to take a balanced approach to addressing complaints about condo managers and condo management companies, said LeBlanc, treating all parties fairly and respectfully as the regulatory authority goes about ensuring licensees comply with their ethical and legal duties in order to protect condo communities.

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services mapped out procedures for complaints about condo managers and condo management companies, along with discipline procedures, in proposed regulations that were open to public comment until mid-October. The regulations are due to be finalized in the coming weeks and slated to take effect on Feb. 1, 2018.

The CMRAO was established to administer the Condominium Management Services Act, which will regulate the condo management profession and was introduced as part of broader changes to Ontario’s condo laws that began taking effect this fall. As the CMRAO investigates complaints about licensees, giving them an opportunity to respond, it will focus on finding resolution as opposed to meting out discipline, said LeBlanc.

“We’re trying to be problem-solvers and take what amounts to a compliance attitude as it stands from a crime and punishment attitude,” he said. “Suspending, revoking or refusing to renew a license are actions that the registrar can make, but actions of last resort.”

Before reaching for these enforcement tools, the CMRAO will look to some of the other enforcement tools it has available, said LeBlanc, such as requiring a licensee to take educational courses.

“The outcome of actions that are proposed or taken on a license will be published on the online registry of licensees,” he said. “The idea here is that consumers ought to have the right to find out the status of licensed practitioners.”

LeBlanc observed that other parties may also be interested in this information, such as suppliers who do business with condo managers. In fact, he said, suppliers will have the ability to complain about licensees to the CMRAO, as will condo board directors, condo managers, condo management companies, condo owners and condo tenants.

Condo lawyer Shawn Pulver, partner at MacDonald Sager Manis LLP, who moderated the panel at the CAI Canada seminar, asked about how the CMRAO would handle chronic complainers wielding the soon-to-come ability to initiate procedures that could lead to discipline against condo managers — a concern that was echoed in other audience questions.

LeBlanc said the CMRAO is bracing to receive a lot of personality-based complaints, citing his past experience heading up Tarion, which regulates new home builders. However, he added that the parties who bring forward concerns about licensees will not have the ability to dictate the outcome.

“We have to work with a documented assertion and the collection of information and a notification of all parties affected by it,” said LeBlanc. “There is a vetting process.”

Also at the CAI Canada seminar, condo lawyer Rod Escayola, partner at Gowling WLG, shared his top tips for condo managers ahead of Nov. 1, which marks the roll out of condo law reforms including new communication requirements for condo corporations.

Escayola advised condo managers to help themselves, and then help condo directors, likening it to act of reaching for one’s own oxygen mask in an emergency before aiding others. In other words, condo managers need to figure out which type of license they’re eligible for and apply for it, which requires a police record check that is current within the last six months.

After they’ve applied for their license, condo managers need to educate themselves about the new requirements under the condo law reforms in order to be able to educate condo directors, he said.

One of the new requirements is that condo corporations have to collect a monthly fee which works out to roughly $1 per unit from owners and remit it to the recently established Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO). The fee, which will support services provided by the CAO, including director education and dispute resolution, has been received unfavourably by some, reported Escayola.

A perhaps even thornier issue is the increased costs condo management providers face in executing new communication and reporting requirements on behalf of condo corporations — costs that are likely to trickle down to condo corporations to some extent.

In delivering this message, Escayola suggested that condo managers focus on the benefits of the legislative changes behind the increased costs.

“There’s tons of added value with everything that’s being implemented now: We’re going to have more accountable managers, we’re going to have better-trained managers, we’re going to have licensed managers, which means that there are some people who may not get into this exclusive group that you’re becoming.”

Michelle Ervin is the editor of CondoBusiness.

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