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Linda Palfi
CNC Properties
Box 47033 Creekside, Calgary, Alberta
P: 403-998-7732
F: 403-592-8002

Condos need leadership


Like all organizations, condominiums require leadership. And like all leadership, the role comes with some slings and arrows. Chairing a condominium Board of Directors can make one a little or even very unpopular at times, but without that leadership condo fees won't be raised as needed, maintenance and capital projects will not be undertaken, and everyone's property will be less well run and will deteriorate.


While most Boards try to operate by consensus, this should be dropped when it's decision time. Votes will need to be taken on whether to raise $300,000 by special assessment, for example, and leadership will be needed if these votes are ever to succeed. A strong chair will build support among Directors for such a difficult decision. She or he will lead the effort to obtain a "yes" vote and take the phone calls and hallway challenges after owners receive the bad news.


Here are some issues that face most condo corporations at one time or another, and which require leadership to debate, decide, and overcome or accomplish:

* Whether to special-assess a large sum to perform unfunded major repairs.
* Whether to raise condo fees beyond the inflation rate to cover expenses and adequately contribute to the reserve fund.
* Whether to expel a specific problem-causing pet (usually a dog), perhaps prohibit that owner from owning another pet, or whether to ban such pets (usually dogs) entirely.
* Whether to respond to a disruptive owner with a verbal warning, a written warning or a formal notice of a breach of bylaws and perhaps even a fine.
* Whether to work poor performance out with a given management firm, janitor or other contractor, or to terminate the contract and hire another.


From this short list you can see that these are substantial issues, and they arise in buildings and townhouse developments that can have hundreds of homeowners and budgets exceeding $1 million per year. The leadership role is not for the meek at heart and not for be-nice condo Boards. Elect to your Board people who have strength of character, even if they occasionally offend you. If you're a Board director, elect as your chair the person who can actually lead your group and your corporation, rather than the person who will make you feel good during meetings.


If you're in the Chair position, don't shy away from playing the leadership role, yet don't let the position go to your head. On the one hand you're the president of the corporation and chair of the Board. On the other it's just a condominium corporation and you're only one vote (although usually also a second vote if there's a tie). Yet when leadership is needed, exert it, and remember the political saying that if you can't be liked, at least be respected.

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