How to Hold Your Condo Board to Account

One of the great things about condo living is that if a resident starts to feel power-hungry – errr…driven to make a difference, we mean! – it’s relatively simple to become involved with the inner workings of the condo community. All they need to do is join the board! 

That said, though, it’s also worth contemplating just how condo community members put in these relatively influential positions are made to be kept accountable to the rest of the larger condo community – and that’s where we can help. Read on to learn more about what you can do to keep your condo board honest and working in your condo community’s best interests today.

Five Keys to Condo Board Accountability

1. Commit to the Code

In order to ensure your board’s driving properly forward while keeping things on the straight and narrow, you’ll want to be sure that they’re committed to your condo community’s code of ethics

While people often think of a code of ethics as being a set of guiding values, morals, or principles, a condo board’s code of ethics is generally understood to be something a little bit different. Think of a condo code of ethics more as a series of guidelines and rules that generally deals with the conduct and actions of board members as a whole. Rather than attempting to enforce any sort of moral conduct, a condo code of ethics generally tends to stick to guidelines and recommendations along the lines of urging members to attend meetings to the best of their ability, and other sorts of directives that essentially work to lay out the way in which board members should go about their business. 

Of course, this all begs the question: what happens when a board member refuses to adhere to the code of conduct? We’re glad you asked. 

2. Keeping ‘Em Honest as a Community

If condo owners determine that a board member isn’t acting in accordance with the best interest of the condo corporation – say they’re not adhering to the code of ethics, or they keep trying to funnel condo money into a secret project called something like “The Doomsday Laser” – there are provincial provisions in place that allow for a board member to be ousted. 

This process can take place at the AGM or at an extraordinary AGM meeting (so long as it takes place with 30 days’ notice and 15% of unit owners are in attendance). From there, all it takes is a 50% vote – or a majority, if quorum is met – and the motion to eject a member from the board can be carried out just the same as any other ordinary resolution.

3. Driving Accountability as a Board

The steps we covered in the previous pointer are great tools for the condo community as a whole to use in pushing for accountability – but those steps only cover cases in which condo owners as a group want to remove a board member. In order for a condo board to remove members on its own authority, there needs to be a provision for such action within the corporation’s bylaws. Many condo bylaws will already include language that allows for this sort of action, but a fair few will not. 

Are you a board member looking to make a difference? This is a real opportunity. Check your corporation’s bylaws and ensure that this measure of self-accountability is locked in place well before your board ever has cause to use it – because if it comes to that, you might find yourself facing a difficult uphill battle to make it happen. 

4. Board v. Owners – Removal is Not Always the Most Effective Option

While removing a board member is one way in which owners can work to hold their condo board accountable for how it handles itself, this is far from being the only tool owners have to work with – and oftentimes, there are other approaches that can end up working far better. 

For example, if enough unit owners feel strongly about a particular issue, they can actually hold a vote and force the board to follow a particular directive or course of action. In order to pursue this course of action, a quorum must be met, and 75% of owners must vote for or against a particular action. If this result is achieved, provincial condo legislation compels the board to follow the majority’s direction and comply, giving condo owners no small amount of power when it comes to determining the fate of their own condo community. 

This also offers an alternative from ousting an otherwise-great board member in order to force an important issue that they just happen to take particular umbrage with: the condo community gets what it wants, the board stays intact and is held to account – everybody wins. 

5. The Difference Between Policy and Bylaw

Before we close the book on this blog and wrap things up, it’s worth noting that some boards – in an effort to get what they want without first navigating the proper channels – will go ahead and instead of passing a new bylaw, will simply make a new policy. This is the oldest trick in the book, and one we wanted to be sure to call out, because guess what: a policy sure isn’t the same thing as a bylaw. 

When it comes to condo corporations, policies exist solely to clarify bylaws that are already in existence. A policy cannot on its own justify a rule, fine, or enforcement measure if those same details aren’t mentioned within an extant bylaw first. Bylaws always trump policies, and the Condo Act always trumps bylaws – and be sure to hold your board to account if they try and tell you otherwise! 

Whether you’re a board member or simply a condo owner, there’s no shortage of tools and opportunities at your disposal when it comes to holding your condo board to accountability. If you’ve found yourself dealing with an unruly (or even legislation-flaunting) condo board and need some help keeping things in line, give us a call at Catalyst Condo Management today – we’ll do what we can to offer you the advice you need.

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