Should You Get Onboard with Your Condo Board?

If you’re anything like us – whether you’re a brand-new Alberta condo owner or you’ve been chipping away at your mortgage for years now – it’s hard not to feel an incredible amount of pride when you look at yourself in the light of being a homeowner.

Being a condo owner is a different sort of homeownership, though, in that when you first bought your condo, you also bought into your condo community as well – one that’s inextricably tied to your life and your investment.

Curious if the role is right for you? Read on – we’ve brought in Catalyst’s expert condo board liaison Zac Stuart to guide us through what to consider before pulling up a chair.

Five Questions to Consider If You’re Thinking About Joining Your Condo Board

1. What Will I Be Responsible For?

The first thing Stuart did was take us through the overarching responsibilities condo board members tackle on a regular basis – and it amounts to no small number of tasks. Condo board members regularly tackle everything from the management of day-to-day tasks to the approval of large-scale operations across the condo community. They handle all process-related concerns, including pet approvals, expenses for building maintenance, owner renovation requests, tenant complaints, management company liaising, and more. They also take care of the long-term planning of expenses and upgrades, as well as managing the reserve fund and any special assessments necessary to see these larger sorts of projects through to successful completion.

As we’d mentioned, there’s no shortage of work for board members to oversee – but this is ultimately what many condo board members find so fulfilling about the role. There’s a very real sense of influence and direction-setting associated with condo board membership. No mere vanity title, being a board member gives you a genuine input into the direction your condo community will head over the coming months and years – especially if you take on one of the more central board member roles.

2. What Roles Need Filling?

There are several key roles to be filled on each condo board. Stuart ran us through each of these positions – seated via a vote, with terms typically running from 1-2 years – and what they entail:

  • President. The leader of the board. Grand Poobah. Head honcho. Commander-in-chief. The buck ultimately stops with a board’s president. This individual does not hold unilateral decision-making power, but they are ultimately responsible for the direction of the board and the action of its members.
  • Vice-President. Second-in-command. Assistant (to the) regional manager. This person stands in for the president and acts in a leadership capacity in his or her absence.
  • Secretary. The keeper of records. The backbone of the operation. The secretary is responsible for the minutes of the meeting, all board-related paperwork, record-keeping, etc.
  • Treasurer. Chief bean counter. Numbers wizard. Financier extraordinaire. The treasurer is responsible for the board’s finances, running an annual audit, tracking expenses, and pretty much anything to do with money. This role is often taken on by a condo corporation’s management company.
  • Directors-at-Large. Experts in their fields. International women and men of mystery. These roles may not exist on smaller boards and often involve a very specific set of duties or responsibilities related to a particular board need (communication, for example, or landscaping).

3. Can Just Anyone Be a Board Member?

Board membership is open to most individuals – but Stuart reminded us that there are a few stipulations regarding who can sit on your condo corporation.

First, he told us, you must on property in the condo if you want to sit on the board – which only makes sense, of course. Board members hold a very legitimate sway over the future of their condo corporation; it follows that you’d want to be sure those people making these important decisions have a vested interest in the result. This also means that if you sell your unit, you must step down from your position, even if your term has yet to expire. Further, only one owner per unit may be seated on the board in order to ensure that representation is fair and equal.

An additional consequence of these stipulations is that renters cannot be board members – you must be an owner to be seated.

Finally, all board members must be in good standing with the condo corporation in order to be eligible to be seated. You cannot be behind on your condo fees, be facing any fines, etc.

4. Have I Got What It Takes to Be a Board Member?

Maybe! Probably! Who would know better than you? When it comes down to it, Stuart informed us, there are some common traits that he finds are shared by all effective board members. These are folks who are communicative, neutral and balanced, and willing to listen to and engage with all voices – not just the ones that align with their own views. Quality board members are open-minded, objective team players. Perhaps most important is that they take initiative – because, as Stuart reminded us, passive boards don’t work. It takes active and engaged members to get things done.

5. Okay, Sell Me on It: What Makes Board Membership All Worthwhile?

At the end of the day, Stuart reminds us, there are plenty of incredibly compelling reasons to join your condo board. You’ll get a voice in your property. You can fix things you might be unhappy or dissatisfied with. You can make a difference in your community – both within your condo complex and the surrounding community at large. You’ll get to build toward something positive in your building, contribute, and make things better.

Ultimately, membership on your condo board is not an invitation to a social committee or meant to fulfill a power trip. Your role there is to do what’s best for your condo corporation – not for yourself or any one individual. If safeguarding your condo community and doing right by your investment are appealing to you – well, you might just have the makings of a brilliant board member.

Big thanks goes out to Zac Stuart for taking the time to walk us through the ins and outs of condo board membership. Your knowledge and expertise couldn’t be more appreciated! Have further questions about joining your condo board? Contact us at Catalyst Condo Management Ltd today – we’ll be happy to chat!