Condo Ownership Lessons From 2020: What Can We Learn?

When COVID-19 was first documented in Canada on January 23, 2020, no one knew what to expect. In the weeks and months that followed Canadians did their best to gather information and adapt accordingly— but the impacts of the virus were far-reaching. 

The real estate market was no exception. 

By March, many cities (including those here in our province) were ordering mandatory shutdowns— impacting everything from employment to travel and recreational activities. This is when the impact of COVID-19 on the Alberta housing market became apparent.

Many Alberta condo owners began inquiring about mortgage loan deferrals, condo fee deferrals, safety and sanitation in common areas, and a host of other concerns, while management companies and condo boards did their best to navigate unprecedented circumstances.

So… Now that we’re one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, what do we know about condo ownership and COVID-19? And how can we better prepare ourselves for the months and years ahead?

Here is Our List of the Most Critical Condo Ownership Lessons from 2020

  • Effective Communication With Residents is an Absolute Must

More than ever before, condo management companies and condominium associations need to maintain consistent, transparent and productive communication with those who live in their communities.

If COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s that things can change in the blink of an eye. Managers and condo board members must be able to relay timely, pertinent information to residents in a convenient and efficient manner. 

Leveraging online communication platforms like Condo Communities, Condo Genie, or Nextdoor can be incredibly helpful. These platforms allow managers and board members to provide real-time information to condo owners, while also offering other beneficial features like service request tracking, amenity scheduling and booking, and document sharing.

Property management teams can enhance the living experience of Alberta condo owners by implementing this one single tip.

  • Having a Healthy Reserve Fund Is Essential For Emergency Preparedness

The pandemic resulted in countless unplanned costs for condo communities. More frequent cleaning and sanitization schedules, the installation of hand sanitizing stations, and more frequent communication are all examples of potential expenses.

By maintaining a healthy reserve fund, board members and management professionals can ensure their condo communities are able to absorb these unexpected costs with minimal disruption or concern.

It is always a good idea to conduct annual reserve fund plans and to have an attorney review all studies/documents. This is the best way to gain accurate data regarding the current state of your reserve fund and the best course of action for future contributions.

  • Rules and Bylaws Must Be Enforced Courteously, Yet Consistently

When neglectful residents seem to avoid consequences for their actions, not only is it unfair to compliant condo owners, but it can create agitation within the community.

One of the most important condo ownership lessons from 2020 is how necessary it is to be respectful and conscious of others. Maintaining social distance, hand sanitizing, and wearing masks are just a few examples of rules that must be adhered to for the safety and protection of all residents.

For condo board members and property managers, it is vital that such rules are bylaws are enforced diligently. All policies should be communicated to residents effectively (newsletters, bulletin board postings, mailed letters, etc), as should the processes for investigation and potential legal action.

These measures are an indispensable part of condo ownership during COVID-19, as they allow all community members to enjoy a worry-free living experience.

  • A Well-Established Maintenance Routine is Always a Wise Investment

City and provincewide shutdowns are to be expected throughout a pandemic and should not be overlooked when considering the impact of COVID-19 on the Alberta housing market. Not only did many residential construction projects come to a grinding halt, but many existing multi-family properties were suddenly forced to rethink their routine maintenance.

Carpet cleaning companies, HVAC companies, and electrical contractors are just a few examples of services that were forced to adjust during COVID-19. In some cases, these providers were required to temporarily suspend their operations. In others, they had to dramatically alter their day-to-day processes to accommodate new public health regulations.

This was a great reminder to condo management properties and boards to invest in long-term contracts and to build strong relationships with vendors. It is more likely that your provider will prioritize your maintenance requirements if you have a longstanding working history together. Plus, adhering to a consistent maintenance schedule will ensure your equipment and other systems are in good condition, helping you avoid serious malfunctions (a major concern in times of such uncertainty).

  • The Ability to Adapt is the Key to Success

If there is any advice that can be shared that will benefit the 2021 Alberta condo market, it’s this—we must be ready and willing to make changes. 

Some examples of adaptability include:

  • Switching to virtual AGM and condo board meetings using tools like Zoom and Condo Voter
  • Managing employees remotely using project management platforms and online communication tools
  • Increasing garbage disposal frequency (increased accumulation due to more tenants staying at home)
  • Investing in materials to promote public health guidelines (in common areas like elevators, hallways, lobbies, etc)
  • Sending regular updates to service providers instructing them on any new safety or health protocols

The more proactive boards and management companies are in adjusting their processes, the better the living experience will be for all.

We created our blog to provide valuable information to Alberta condo owners, board members, and property managers. If you have a question related to our services or the condo management industry in general, we welcome you to reach out. We’ll do our best to find you the answers you need!