They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you and me. At least we think they do…
Whether you’re brand new to condominium living or have been in your unit for 37 years, you’re likely aware that decisions made for the condominium as a whole are made by your board of directors. Unlike the Yeti, this group of people are actually real and have been seen in public on more than one occasion. Let’s take a look at some of the commonly asked questions we get and clear up several of the misconceptions that we’ve come across over the years.
WHO IS THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS?
The board is made up of other owners who either live in the building or complex or own a unit in the same. An owner doesn’t have to live in the building to sit on the board, however, we’ve found that having at least one owner who lives in the building helps significantly, as they can see the issues of which need to be attended. This group of volunteers, usually numbered between three and seven, make the decisions for the corporation around everything from which snow removal company to use to approval of the annual operating budget and everything in between. It sounds daunting, but if you have the right people in place and work as a cohesive unit, the phrase “many hands makes light work” certainly applies.
HOW DO YOU JOIN THE BOARD?
Generally speaking, the board is elected each year at the Annual General Meeting (AGM). In order to allow your name to stand, you must be an owner (i.e. your name must be on title) or you’ve been given proxy by the owner giving you all the rights and decision making ability that an owner has. (The latter is rare and can complicate things, however, we’ve had a tenant who was given proxy to sit on the board and they did a fantastic job, so you never know.)
The previous board steps down and owners are able to allow their name to stand for election. The Condominium Property Act (CPA) dictates the number of owners who are allowed to sit on the board — with a minimum of three up to a maximum of seven. (A motion can be made at the AGM to limit the number of board members elected, but that’s a segue we won’t be discussing today.) If you’ve put your name in the proverbial hat to be elected and your name is drawn, congratulations, you’re now on the board. Yes, it’s really that simple.
HOW MUCH POWER DOES THE BOARD HAVE?
Many believe the board wields a big stick and is the proverbial “grand poohbah” of the building. While the board does make decisions around how the operating funds are spent, which repairs/capital projects need/should be done, and attempt to maintain a semblance of law and order within the building, the are bound by the corporation bylaws, the CPA, as well as any other legislation and municipal bylaw. So while you might be cheesed that you received a notice and fine for something you did, keep in mind that the decision was only made after consulting the bylaws and/or other applicable legislation. It’s good to remember that the board is comprised of owners, so they’re bound by the same rules as everyone else. Just because you sit on the board doesn’t mean you get a free pass to do as you wish.
WHAT ARE THE ROLES ON THE BOARD?
President — this role is responsible for the general organization of the business and affairs of the corporation and acts as Chairperson for any board meetings held.
Vice President —this role is responsible for “backing up” the President and acting as Chairperson for any board meetings at which the President cannot attend.
Secretary — this role is responsible for keeping the minutes for the board meetings and is in charge of all correspondence for the corporation.
Treasurer — this role is responsible for the financial health and review of the corporation. Often times, an owner with a financial background will take on this role, as they’re already familiar with reading financial statements.
Director at Large — this role allows someone to sit on the board, but not have an executive position. Typically speaking, this role is ideally suited for someone new to sitting on a board and/or someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to commit outside of the regular board meetings.
IS IT WORTH IT?
Sitting on the board for your condominium can be a thankless job, but it can also be very rewarding and informative. When we’ve had owners complain about issue X, Y, or Z or their disapproval on how the board is running the building, we always suggest they volunteer for the board at the next AGM. It’s an excellent way to have your voice heard and be part of the conversation around what needs to be done, what should be done, and maintaining an overall community of which people want to be a part.