Don’t cash the maintenance cheques

When an unscrupulous board realizes that it can't survive a re-call election, called by an owner's requisition, it may dream up the most outrageous tricks.

The boldest scheme I have heard, as of yet, is when a rinky-dinky management company running a townhouse condo in the GTA wouldn't cash the maintenance cheques for over 60 units.

When some of the concerned owners brought their cheques to the president not only did he refuse to accept them, he yelled at them.

The board tipped into the Reserves to pay the operating bills.

At the re-call election, the 60+ owners were told they could not vote because they were in arrears.

The owners had to go to superior court where they were successful in obtaining a court order allowing them to vote. What a waste of time, energy and money.

The board was voted out and the new board replaced the property management company.

2nd example
A different management company pulled this trick at a townhouse complex in the Region of Peel.

Here is another example from the United States:

Voting rights blocked by condo property manager
Ask Mr. Condo
25 July 2014

M.M. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,
The property management company is not submitting my monthly condo fees in a timely manner.  They are holding onto it until a month goes by. Fees have been sent one week prior to first of the month.

When the owners are involved in a vote, the property management company has told several owners that their condo fees are not current and could not vote on matters. We are afraid they will say they never received our check for monthly condo fees.

What do we do? Must I send a certified mail with the condo fees to them so they cannot contest that it was submitted by the date required?

Mister Condo replies:
M.M., you have described a serious problem here, my friend.

You have spoken about the management company but not the Board. Your management company is overstepping their authority on several issues here and, if it were my association, I would demand they be removed at once.

However, the Board may need to educate themselves on how to run the association before doing so. Let’s start with what I am seeing is wrong from your letter.

“…the property management company has told several owners that their condo fees are not current and could not vote on matters.” That is just dead wrong. Being in arrears does not preclude a unit owner from voting on any association matter that requires a vote. The property management company is giving bad advice to the Board and unit owners here as well as violating state law by denying unit owners the right to vote. I cannot imagine any state-certified Property Manager doing this but they should be removed from duty for this outrageous behavior and complete lack of knowledge of the law.

By the way, if this property manager is not licensed, you should report them to the state’s Department of Consumer Protection who will take action against them for practicing without a license.

With regards to the monthly common fee deposit and recording, there are a few things you can do. First off, you can demand better accountability from the property manager. You can send the fees via certified mail as you suggested or you can simply pressure the Board into hiring a new Property Management firm which is likely going to be necessary any way based on the first part of my response. The bottom line is that this is an Accounting 101 problem and is easily remedied with adequate bookkeeping.

As you can tell, I am quite incensed by the scenario you have described here and I realize there are always two sides to every story. However, there is no reason that you or any condo owner should have their right to vote blocked by an unknowledgeable, untrained, or downright misinformed Property Manager. You have rights under the law and you should expect those rights to be honored and upheld by a paid professional like a Property Manager.

Please share my answer with your Board and encourage them to take appropriate action at once. If they don’t, don’t hesitate to bring action against them and the Property Manager for violating your rights. You’ve paid for them and you’ve earned them. Many of us at the Connecticut Chapter of CAI have fought hard for you and for manager licensing so that things like this don’t happen. I wish you all the best in remedying this situation.

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