Keeping Your Condo Board Above Board
Condo boards hold a lot of power when it comes right down to it. After all, they set the tone for the condo community – steering its course, plotting its priorities, and ultimately shaping its direction in the months and years to come.
With that much weight and authority over the lives and investments of its community members, it bears asking: what sorts of checks and balances are in place to hold condo board members accountable to the residents they’re meant to serve? How do owners ensure their condo board stays legitimate, responsible, and accurate to the larger condo community?
In short: how do you keep your board members above board?
Simple: with a condo code of ethics.
The Keys to the Code: Five Things to Know About Condo Codes of Ethics
1. The Code, Defined
The term “code of ethics” comes loaded with many preconceptions and assumptions. Before we dig too deep into things, though, let’s take a moment to outline just what a code of ethics means as it relates to keeping condo board members on the straight-and-narrow.
When it comes to condo corporation governance, what we’re referring to with the term “code of ethics” is less a set of virtue-driven values, principles, and morals and more a series of guidelines that relates to the conduct of board members as a whole.
You won’t find any details dictating political allegiances or moral imperatives here. Instead, condo codes of ethics tend to tread closer toward provisions that work to ensure board members are serving their condo community in a committed, thoughtful fashion. In addition, they provide a platform for accountability – precisely what this article is looking to establish today.
2. The Power of the Code
So – if the point of a condo code of ethics isn’t to guide the board through a moral or ethical quandary, what does it do?
Ultimately, a condo code of ethics is meant to provide a way forward for board members to conduct themselves legitimately in an official capacity. It provides a standard set of guidelines and responsibilities around which the condo corporation can build itself, establish a process, and find success for the condo community at large.
It might seem small, but the defining nature of a condo community’s code of ethics can almost represent the heart and soul of the condo board itself. It empowers board members to move forward and pursue its mandate while keeping them accountable to a set of standards they all agree to adhere to.
Not too bad for a handful of written words, right?
3. The Contents of the Code
When it comes down to brass tacks, what exactly can you expect to find within the contents of a condo code of ethics?
This is a solid question to ask. While the driving ethos behind a code of ethics is to essentially inform a corporation’s members about how to run a condo board in a legitimate, up-and-up manner, the various guidelines vary from code to code.
That said, there are some standard provisions generally seen across most codes, including:
- Attend all meetings and participate wholly, to the best ability possible.
- Act honestly and responsibly in accordance with the trust invested in the board by the condo community.
- Disclose any potential conflicts of interest that might arise throughout one’s duties as a condo board member.
- Exercise care, due diligence, and skill to a reasonable standard.
- Keep confidential any information deemed to be sensitive in nature.
- Conduct oneself in a professional and businesslike matter both with board members and while representing the board and condo community.
- Abide by the law in all aspects and capacities.
- Support the decisions and resolutions of the board, even though they may not be a personal agreement with every decision that is voted through.
While these represent some specific guidelines you might expect to find within a condo board’s code of ethics, this is hardly an exhaustive list and does not represent any sort of defining collection of parameters necessary to establish a successful code.
4. Aligning with the Code
Establishing a code of ethics is the first step to ensuring board legitimacy and accountability. The most crucial piece of the puzzle is getting every board member to sign off on a code of ethics once it’s been established as a mandatory condition to serve.
Even though it might be a voluntary decision to serve on your condo’s board, there’s still a lot of money at stake, and many folks are counting on the right choices for their home and community. That isn’t something to be taken lightly. Getting up-front signatures from all board members can make all the difference in ensuring that your condo community is set up to be financially healthy, well-cared for, and successful.
5. Driving Accountability Through the Code
A condo’s code of ethics is meant to keep everyone aligned and accountable – but what happens if a board member goes rogue? Unfortunately, a condo’s code of ethics doesn’t have the power to remove or depose a board member.
The Alberta Condominium Property Act, however, most certainly does.
That said, removing a stuck-in board member is not easy. Outside of stipulations that include actual criminal conduct or straight-up bankruptcy, the Act only allows for the removal of a board member by ordinary resolution (i.e., a majority vote).
While a code may not be able to remove a ne’er-do-well board member, it can provide the foundation for a case supporting a board member’s removal. It’s easier to build that majority vote by pointing to a series of stark code violations than without. Once again, it proves the immeasurable value a strong code of ethics can offer your condo board and community.
How does your condo’s code stand up after reading through this article? Looking to make some revisions – or even build a new code up from scratch? Call Catalyst Condo Management to learn everything about constructing your condo’s code of ethics today!