How to manage shared facilities in condos without getting into a war

How to manage shared facilities in condos without getting into a war

Unlike squabbles over who gets the last scoop of ice-cream (summer is here!), conflicts over shared common facilities between multiple communities can’t be easily resolved through just a game of rock-paper-scissors. We’ve seen how ugly it can turn out to be, but the good news is, there’s a better way to put a smile on everyone’s face while managing shared facilities.

Before we get into the juicy details, let’s go over some general facts:

What are shared facilities?

Shared facilities are typically common areas that are developed to be shared by multiple phases of a condo development project. This often results in multiple condo boards being established to represent each phase. The usual suspects when it comes to shared facilities are the swimming pool, guest rooms, party rooms and tennis courts, just to name a few.

The purpose of sharing facilities is to reduce development and operating costs. Additional benefits of sharing facilities include the creation of a supportive living environment. Sharing facilities can also enable residents to enjoy a broader mix of amenities than would be available to a single development phase.

With lesser operating costs (i.e., lesser monthly condo fees) and more to enjoy for all residents, what’s there to fuss about?

Why is it such as pain in the &#%!

Let’s put this into something more relatable. Imagine this. You’ve recently purchased a single detached house that promises a swimming pool, tennis court and sauna room at an incredible bargain. The catch is, you’d have to share it with 3 other neighbours. Now you start to think and wonder:

  • Who pays for the maintenance and upkeep of these facilities?
  • Who gets to use what first and at what time?

You can start to see why managing shared facilities can make things difficult between condo boards if not managed well, which is the case in most condominiums today.

The war is over

Let’s get a few things straight. We are all not naturally born to hate one another and conflicts are usually the result of miscommunication due to process/procedural flaws. If we start to accept the flaws and find ways to resolve them, there’s no reason why living in a community with shared facilities between hundreds of condos would not work. It’s all in the process and it starts with alignment.

1. Align your goals

Well it’s too late to split up the shared facilities so why not make the best out of what it is today by working towards a common goal – to make sure all the facilities and bookings are well maintained & managed at a shared cost structure that makes sense for everyone.

2. Setup a separate joint entity

It seems that the most common structure today amongst condos with shared facilities is to establish a separate joint entity with representatives from all condo boards involved. This is by far the best structure we’ve seen and it seems to work out well in terms of both financial management as well as coming together as a joint committee to decide on what works for all.

3. Put in place a set of fair & effective procedures (i.e., booking approvals)

It’s all about the procedures in place. Without a good set of procedures that make sense for everyone, a joint committee meeting would only result in more squabbles. For example, the property managers of each community have the ability to approve / reject reservations made by residents in their respective communities. This is not the case is some of the setup we’ve seen so far. A power struggle is the last thing you want to see happening.

4. Agree to a standard for shared facility usage, rules and restrictions

Here’s an example. Condo A and B both share the same guest suite. According to the restrictions set in condo A, residents can reserve the guest suite 365 days in advance of the booking date whereas it is only 60 days in advance at condo B. What happens here is that the residents at condo A would then have more guest suite reservations during the year. Other areas of concern would be to also have a standard usage rule to always make sure the shared facilities are clean and appropriately used to prevent disruption to other reservations.

5. Use the right software to facilitate procedures in place

It’s easier said than done and you’re probably right. That’s why you need the right tool for the job (shameless promotion coming). At Evercondo, we take pride in the fact that we listen and try to understand all the needs of property managers and communities. In this case, we have. Our facility booking feature today offers condo communities the ability to manage shared facilities seamlessly. We believe it’s all in the process and that our tool can help put a smile back in everyone’s face when it comes to managing shared facilities.

Evercondo shared facility booking calendar

Without going too deep into the details, two or more condo communities will have their own private, standalone community website and portal. Nothing is shared between the communities except for the shared facilities. Reservation records from each condo community are only available to respective managers and are not shared. All reservations from each community works as usual allowing managers from respective communities to approve, reject or cancel reservations without hassle.

The awesome thing is, nothing special needs to be done on your end. Everything just works and it’s all available via our web application and smartphone apps on iPhones and Androids.

Summary

Shared facilities in condominiums rewards us with plenty of benefits especially when it comes to operational cost savings. Managing and maintaining them can be tough and tricky. It’s amazing how boards and management companies come together to make things work even when they lack the tools to help them. This shows how dedicated they are in making sure residents’ reservations are well taken care of. Given the right tool in place, even a shared facility of 10 communities would not break a sweat.