Ontario’s condo management industry is calling for change as the province plans to build 1.5 million homes in 10 years, including a large number of new condos.
The severe shortfall of licensed condo managers has been a subject of concern over the past few years. The condo boom coupled with the looming retirement of those already employed will add even more pressure to the labour drought, the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario (ACMO) warned in a statement released on May 29.
Urbanation reported that 125,000 new condo units are planned for completion in Toronto between 2023 and 2028, with a fifth on target for this year alone. These buildings will require oversight for daily operations, including maintenance, financial management and resident relations.
“Without adequate management, condominium buildings can quickly fall into disrepair, leading to a host of problems for residents, including escalating long-term repair and replacement costs and potential owner assessments, safety hazards, financial instability, and legal issues,” ACMO states. “Ultimately this leads to a decrease in residents’ satisfaction and a decline in the value of the condominium units.”
As required by the Condominium Management Services Act, 2015, condo corporations in Ontario must be managed by someone holding a valid general license issued by the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO), except when the condo corporation is self-managed by a volunteer board. This is achieved through the CMRAO’s six educational courses and two or more years of providing condo management services.
As of July 2023, managers are also required to complete 10 hours of continuing education each year to keep their license. According to the CMRAO, 2,543 general license holders manage more than 12,400 condo corporations, representing 900,000-plus units throughout Ontario. There are 5.3 condo corporations for every general licensee. ACMO says this falsely assumes that every general licensee in Ontario oversees multiple condos in each of their portfolios.
“In my experience, a solitary manager of a stand-alone building can comfortably manage about 270 high-rise units,” said Catherine Murdock, district manager for Del Property Management Inc. “This means preparing monthly meetings with one board of directors, one annual budget meeting and one AGM. Managers have an extremely robust job description ensuring the safety and comfort of the residents, monitoring contractors, and the additional administrative tasks implemented by the new condominium authorities.”
ACMO says an estimated 3,333 general license holders are required to manage the current inventory of units in Ontario. To relieve the shortfall, the province’s 1,638 limited license holders handle some daily administration tasks; however, they require no management experience or training and must be supervised by a general licensed manager. Not all will aspire to becoming a general licensee.
As Baby Boomers retire from various industries, condo management is far from immune. A recent ACMO membership survey found 57 per cent of the managers who responded were aged 55 or higher, with 13 per cent aged 65 and nearing retirement and 5 per cent being under 34.
So who is going to manage all of the new condominium corporations planned for the future? It is incumbent on all industry stakeholders to address this issue to ensure the long-term success of condo living in Ontario.
Recommendations directed to industry stakeholders detail necessary reform. The first recommendation calls for the government, specifically the CMRAO to work with stakeholders to create a plan to recruit, educate and license more managers.
“This could include promoting the career path through Ontario colleges and government retraining programs such as the Ontario Bridge Training Program and offering incentives to enter the field,” ACMO advises. “Another possibility is to keep licensing education and licensing fees as low as possible to help reduce a formidable barrier to entry into the condo management field and improve manager retention.”
Among other recommendations:
- The Condominium Authority of Ontario should educate owners about the importance of obtaining quality management and the higher fees that come with that.
- Generating more awareness of the manager shortfall among the public via ACMO, the Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI), and the Community Associations Institute (CAI). This includes providing extra support, resources and continuing education to promote the profession as a viable career path.
Higher salaries encouraged
Low salaries contribute to the shortfall, so condo corporations and their management firms must work together to keep salaries competitive to attract those considering condo management as a career.
“Most condominium corporations are pressured by their owners to keep condo fees low,” states ACMO. “As a result, when selecting management firms, they often prioritize cost-cutting measures over quality management, forcing management firms to limit what they pay managers and/or increase the workload of their managers. As such, managers are often required to manage multiple condo corporations within a portfolio to earn more, reducing their dedicated time to each, impacting the quality of service provided.”
“Property managers don’t manage a desk,” added Robert Weinberg, president and CEO of Percel Inc. “They manage multi-million dollar corporations and protect what is likely the largest financial investment made by its owners. They should be shown the respect they have earned and be paid commensurate to their expertise, experience and importance of this role.”
As salaries have improved, this is causing managers to switch employers to find better-paying opportunities elsewhere. In turn, firms are boosting compensation to retain existing managers or entice new talent with higher rates.
Dean McCabe is president of The Meritus Group Management Inc. “With a limited number of existing General Licensees and the recent delay in providing education to management candidates due to the change in educational requirements, many management firms are continuously searching for qualified managers or trying to develop new talent from the pool of Limited Licensees,” he said in the statement. “Boards must also be willing to hire Limited Licensees who are gaining the required experience to advance their careers while they work.”
These are a few strategies in need of urgent attention, along with reframing the profession.
“The good news is that the unprecedented demand for managers presents an excellent opportunity for individuals looking for a fulfilling career path that offers recession-proof job security and massive growth potential,” ACMO explained. “But more needs to be done to promote the condominium management profession and reduce the barriers to entry.”