Property manager
“Managing is a lonely, difficult job. It is not fun. It's a nightmare.
But I enjoy it.

—Maury Wills  baseball legend

When the board of directors hires a property management company (PMC) to manage the corporation’s affairs, it signs a contract with the PMC describing the company’s responsibilities, duties and fees. The PMC supplies bookkeeping and accounting services, stores the corporation's records and provides a manager for the property.

The manager's job
The manager has two primary responsibilities: to carry out policies set by the board and to manage the corporation’s daily operations. The superintendent, the cleaners, the security guards and the contractors take their direction from the manager while the manager takes his instructions from the board.

The manager enforces the corporation’s declaration, by-laws, policies and rules. He or she also posts notices that inform the residents of fire alarm testing, elevator repairs, other maintenance issues and reminders of the corporation’s rules. The manager inspects the community regularly, but even an experienced manager won’t catch everything. If you know about a maintenance issue, report it to the manager.

The manager also obtains three-quotes for maintenance and service contracts and planned repairs for the board to review. He or she also insures that all the required inspections are performed. The manager is responsible for monitoring contractors’ performance, but not supervising them. Contractors are responsible for supervising their own personnel.

If you have a problem with a contractor, notify the manager, who will forward your concerns to the board. The board will decide how to proceed under the terms of the contract.

The manager, along with the other employees of the property management company, insure that all the condo fees and special assessments have been collected on time and the all the bills have been promptly paid.

The manager attends the monthly board meetings and brings the board’s attention to issues that need to be discussed and decisions made.

The manager has the PMC as a resource to help insure that all the condo fees are paid on time, all the bills get paid and the financial accounts are up to date. The company also has a list of trusted contractors that they can draw upon.

The property manager is also responsible for quality control and auditing value for money spent by the corporation's employees and contractors.

The manager does not set policy. If you disagree with a policy or rule, you’ll get better results sending a letter or e-mail to the board than arguing with the manager.

The manager may give the owners the impression that he/she is the boss but if they are hauled in front of the courts, or to the Human Rights Tribunal, they may sing a different tune. Recently, The Active Group (TAG) tried to get out of being named a respondent in a Human Rights case by arguing:

"TAG submitted that it merely provides advice and information to the respondent (the condo board). It argues that it has at all material times acted as an agent of the respondent with respect to its interactions with the applicant (owner)."

It didn't work. The adjudicator added TAG as a respondent.

The manager & the PMC
The management company wants, more than anything else, to keep the contract so it will instruct the manager to make sure he does nothing to cause the board to terminate their contract.

The district managers keep an eye on the managers. Part of this is normal supervision but part of it is to insure that the manager doesn't go rogue. The manager may ignore the property company's policies, be corrupt or may move to a different company and take the building with him. Keeping managers in line can prove difficult.

The manager works for the PMC but he also works for himself. Some boards will terminate their contract with the PMC but keep the manager in place. A manager who brings one to five condos with him to a new company is sure to be able to negotiate a better compensation package.

In other cases, the manager will resign from the PMC to start his own company using the condos he manages as his first clients.
The manager & the board
The manager is employed at the will of the board. A manager will not last if the majority of the directors don't like him. Therefore the manager will give the board suggestions and advise the directors on what decisions they should make but he cannot make it a practice to push the board into going in a direction they do not want to go.

When the owners start hollering, a smart manager will protect the board by taking responsibility for all unpopular decisions and taking the tongue lashings in stride.

The manager that tells the board members that they are acting unethically may not last too long. In these situations, the owners may not get reasonable access to routine records, the Annual General Meetings may not be held or the president’s cousin gets sole-sourced contracts. The manager has to be able to live with this. If he will not call in the painters when the president’s wife wants the presidential suite spruced up he will be soon replaced.

The manager & the owners
The residents need to take their problems, complaints and suggestions to the property manager. The manager acts on these issues and he will ask the board for direction when necessary.
The manager sets the tone for the building so the owners should feel free to speak to the manager. He must not gossip about residents to other residents, divulge confidential information or make promises that he cannot keep. He must also respond to all issues that the residents bring to his attention and not “forget” to get back to people.

Some residents expect the manager to perform certain tasks that just aren’t part of the job. The manager is trained to deal with conflict, but he or she will not get involved in private quarrels a resident  might be having with an neighbour. However, if the condo's rules are being violated, the manager has a duty to get involved.

Also, the manager does not act as an advocate  for a resident who has an issue with the board. If a resident has a concern with the board's decisions they need to send a letter or e-mail directly to the board.

Although the manager works for the board, he or she is available to residents. That doesn’t mean the manager will drop everything to take your call. If you need to see the manager, call and arrange a meeting.

The manager should be always happy to answer questions, but he or she is not the information officer. For routine inquiries, like the date of the next meeting, please read the condo newsletter or website.

Although the manager may be a great resource to the condo, he or she is not available 24 hours a day—except for emergencies. Getting locked out of your home may be an emergency to you, but it isn’t an emergency for the corporation. An corporation emergency is defined as a threat of personal injury or damage to the property.

Managing is not an easy job. The manager must be able to put up with a fair amount of abuse. Some residents are unreasonable, rude, obnoxious, ungrateful or even dangerous.

Difficult managers

However some managers have difficulty dealing with the residents. They may be condescending, rude or even abusive towards the residents especially if they know that the board will support them.

At times, owners have been ordered to leave the manager’s office and a few have been charged with trespassing (and convicted) when they refused. Others have received lawyer letters, with demands of payment, stating that they are barred from the management office and that any more requests for information will be treated as harassment and interference with the management of the corporation.

There have been times when a owner touched a female manager's arm, just to get her attention, and have her holler for security and called the police because she was "assaulted".

Were these measures, taken by the manager and the board, excessive?

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