CAI Set To Transform Canada’s Property Management Landscape

CAI Canada

The newest Community Associations Institute (CAI) chapter is based in Toronto with a mandate to help create great Canadian cities that owners and residents are proud to call home. CAI Canada was officially launched in January this year and it’s a big deal for our industry. Canadian condominium and strata owners, board members, and property managers should pay attention.

Community Associations Institute (CAI) is the go-to source for information on the rapidly changing property management industry. The organization gives its members access to practical knowledge and insights from leaders in the field, as well as best practices and useful tools for all condo community stakeholders.

CAI began in 1973 with a mission to foster competent, responsive community associations through research, training and education. Since then it’s grown to more than 34,000 members in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

Canadian housing leaders have been CAI members for many years. It’s exciting to have the organization establish itself in Canada officially because it opens up CAI’s extensive resources and global network to more people in our industry.

Membership has its privileges

CAI members get access to information, resources, and education programs produced by the organization. These include a subscription to the award-winning Common Ground magazine; community newsletters; professional services directory listings; online communities, research library, and more to help members stay current on the latest news, laws, and issues that affect community associations, condos, and HOAs.

Local membership in CAI Canada gives you membership in CAI, so you gain a network of industry colleagues worldwide. Community managers who join have access to industry credentials and professional designations that are recognized around the world. Plus there’s a yearlong calendar of events, including the CAI Annual Conference & Exposition that brings together vendors and service providers, as well as compelling speakers and leaders who share on topics of interest to our industry.

Membership fees are reasonable and geared to different categories: community managers, homeowners and board members, vendor business partners, management companies, students.

So join CAI Canada if you haven’t already. Sign up online to become a member, or browse the local events calendar for an opportunity to check it out in person.

Are you a CAI or CAI Canada member? Why did you join the organization? If you’re not a member, why not? Share your stories in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

CAI Canada Founders

CAI Canada Founders | Source: http://caicanada.com/

Evercondo the leading web and mobile platform that facilitates quick, useful communication between property managers, the condo association or HOA board, and residents. Contact us for a demonstration or a free trial to see how we can keep your communities happy.

Airbnb Legal In Your Condo? Here’s What You Need To Lookout For

airbnb-condo-legal

The popularity of Airbnb.com and other short-term accommodation rentals booked through “home sharing” websites is growing. Meanwhile, condo associations across North America battle against the trend to protect their communities from a revolving door of Airbnb renters. While condo boards take steps to control how owners are allowed to rent out units, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open in a way that is beneficial to all community stakeholders.

Last December, Ontario’s Superior Court ruled that condominium corporations with a “single family use” provision (i.e., for residential purposes and not for hotel-like business) in the condo’s “declaration” have the authority to ban unit owners from renting out their properties on services such as Airbnb.

This ruling could be a game-changer for condo communities dealing with short-term rental issues, as other jurisdictions study the reasoning and apply it to their own.

Whatever happens in the aftermath of the court decision, the fact remains that Airbnb adds another layer of complexity to a lifestyle already beset with the complications of shared ownership and close community living.

If your condominium corporation is one that indeed allows Airbnb, beyond the hassles of dealing with a continuous stream of strangers taking up temporary residence, there are other aspects to consider. We’ve identified five topics that owners, residents, community managers, and board members should be mindful of:

Safety is an issue.

Renters in shared living spaces have access to common areas like a gym, swimming pool, parking garage, or rooftop. Airbnb guests, however, don’t pay fees for maintaining these areas and have little incentive (beyond common decency) to avoid misuse. Some owners may feel threatened with strangers, who are typically unaware of the rules, using their space. If Airbnb hosts are tolerated in your community the board should make sure rules for using amenities and common areas are posted in the unit(s) being rented to short-term guests.

Keep a clear, simple line of communication.

It’s important to be able to notify people in the community about problems or maintenance requirements. For example, if there’s a scheduled repair to the pool, or the hallway carpets are being cleaned, residents should know about it. Evercondo’s bulletin feature, which is accessible online or via mobile app, helps keep everyone in the community updated. Airbnb hosts included.

Insurance coverage should be checked.

Are Airbnb renters covered under your community’s master insurance policy? What happens when a renter decides to jump off the building? It pays to check into who is responsible for damages to common areas by Airbnb renters. Also, if a Airbnb renter gets injured (for example in a slip and fall) in a common area of the building, the condo association could be liable if short-term renters are not covered under the policy.

Noise complaints may escalate.

Often, renters who use Airbnb are on vacation, which means they may be up partying late or playing loud music in the unit. If such activities are subject to fines, be prepared to leverage them on unit owners who are Airbnb hosts—the tenants will be long gone once the fine is issued.

Get the community on board.

If you feel the risks of Airbnb renters are outweighed by the financial benefits they bring to owners, it’s a good idea to amend your bylaws to reflect this position. Have an open discussion with owners about allowing properties to be listed on Airbnb.com and other short-term rental websites. Amendments may include conditions that owners must follow when renting out their units (for example limiting the number of days a unit can be rented out) and require owners to meet the renters in person, as well as creating a list of rules about use of common areas.

Does your condo community allow Airbnb renters? How do you manage issues related to having short-term tenants? Share your stories in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Evercondo the leading web and mobile platform that facilitates quick, useful communication between property managers, the condo association or HOA board, and residents. Contact us for a demonstration or a free trial to see how we can keep your communities happy.

Top 5 reasons why your condo or HOA management needs a smartphone app

evercondo-smartphone-app

It’s no news to anyone that smartphone is one of mankind’s greatest creations. It has revolutionized many industries ranging from food and shopping to transportation services. Yet, nothing much has happened in the condo / HOA management world when it comes to smartphones.

To kick things off, here are 5 reasons why we believe that smartphone apps is the next big thing in condo / HOA management and how you can ride this wave of opportunity.

1. Everyone has a smartphone

As of March 2016, our world’s population was estimated at 7.4 billion, an all-time record high. What’s more staggering about this is that 1 in 3 of the population currently owns a smartphone, that’s over 2 billion smartphone users. If my psychic powers serves me right, I’m guessing you’re probably holding one right now while reading this article.

2. “I wish my condo has an app”

I am a smartphone user myself and the sad truth is, I always have it with me no matter where I go and what I do. From the moment I wake up to the moment I sleep. It’s my alarm clock, it’s where I read my news, check my emails, keep in touch with friends, snap and share photos, pay my bills, play games, watch movies, listen to music and I’m pretty sure I can live my entire life without leaving my bed if I wanted to. Gone are the days when I have to write, print and mail to get a message sent or even call the operator to look up for a number. Everything is just a few taps away and it’s always with me in my pocket.

“I wish my condo has an app that I can use to reserve the party room” is a common question we get when visiting friends at their condo. Here’s a few more:

  • Why can’t I reserve the party room from my smartphone
  • I’d like to receive push notifications for building announcements
  • What is the WIFI password to the conference room
  • Has my package arrived yet? Wished there’s an app for that
  • Wish I could check my account balances

3. Most management are still in the 90s

Like getting an Uber ride, condo or HOA management is in the services industry. Unlike Uber however, getting information, or making a reservation in communities today isn’t as easy and convenient. Many managers today still rely on a lot of manual labor work through phone calls, papers and spreadsheets. This makes it a good opportunity for you to sprint ahead of the competition while giving your residents the convenience and access they deserve.

4. Increased productivity & efficiency for managers

Property managers need to juggle with 101 things everyday and with so little time available, it’s important for managers to squeeze out at much time as possible. With a smartphone app, managers can answer to resident requests while out having lunch or approve a party room reservation while waiting for taxi. It also comes in handy when managers need to pull up the latest minutes during a short conversation with a committee member.

5. An app speaks a 1,000 words

When was the last time you heard a friend brag about their condo management’s service? That’s right. None. An app that gives residents the convenience to reserve their party room or check their account balances will sure to give your residents something to talk about with their friends at work and guests at the dinner table. Nothing generates more brand awareness than good old word-of-mouth!

Want to see our mobile app in action?

At Evercondo, we don’t just believe in the smartphone revolution for community management, we’re pioneering it. Thousands of community residents are already enjoying the convenience of our iPhone and Android app to communicate with their property managers.

We’d love to share how hundreds of management companies and self managed communities are using the Evercondo mobile app to launch their management services into the 21st century.

Click here to get a FREE personal tour today to see and learn how the Evercondo mobile app can help bing your management service to the next level!

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.

How To Avoid Condo Association Problems Before They Begin

 

Photo of confident associates with pretty business lady standing in front

Condo association problems you can solve now

As a member of the condo board or property management team, there are going to be some problems that are simply beyond your scope of capabilities. There is no way you can prevent every problem that may ever occur. You can get ahead of most of these situations, though, with simple communication and respect.

1. Feeling left out

Condo owners who feel left out of association decisions may be less inclined to cooperate with new or existing rules. Don’t worry, there’s  an easy fix: make sure all condo owners know when and where association meetings are held, and what is on the agenda. Be sure there is enough notice for owners to come to the meetings if they want to, and always include space in the agenda for residents to submit issues they’d like to address ahead of time.

Owners who feel like a valued member of the condo association are more likely to feel like the community offers an excellent quality of life. [Read more…]

5 Ways Condo Communities Are Better Than Neighborhoods

ways condo communities are better than neighborhoods

Some of us grew up in a neighborhood. A typical afternoon scene would have kids playing ball in the street, cars parked bumper-to-bumper against the sidewalk, and the occasional sound of a lawnmower followed by someone’s dad telling him to come home to rake the yard.

Condo communities, on the other hand, often have a very different feel about them. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, there is a lot one can appreciate about condo communities that just doesn’t happen in a neighborhood.

The most obvious differences are, of course, that you don’t have to worry about replacing the roof all by yourself, or that, at least in larger condo communities, you don’t need to worry about mowing your own lawn. But there is more to it than that. And you condo association board members know what I’m talking about.

Sometimes, condo dwellers forget about the many advantages of living in a condo. If you’re trying to put some spirit back into your community, maybe it’s a good time to remind them your residents of how condo communities are better than neighborhoods. [Read more…]

Top 5 Sessions You Can’t Miss at 19th Annual ACMO / CCI-T Condo Conference 2015

Speaker at Business Conference and Presentation. Audience at the conference hall.

Source: www.ishwmcon2015.com

If you’re attending ACMO/CCI-T Condo Conference this year in Toronto, you’re in for an experience. With thousands in attendance, over 170 exhibitors and 20 sessions, the agenda includes networking opportunities, learning sessions, and presentations by some of the greatest thought leaders in our industry. It is sure to be an action-packed event. Here’s a list of the top 5 sessions you don’t want to miss.


1. The Great Director Debate: Is there a Place for Professional Directors?

When: Friday 11:15 am – 12:30 pm
Where: 1D Session

Richard Elia (Elia Associates) moderates a panel that includes Carol Dirks (Fogler, Rubinoff), Christine Dunn, Bill Thompson (Malvern Condominium Property Management) and Ian Waldron (MTCC # 1385), to discuss the possibility of condominiums engaging “professional directors.” The discussion will explore scenarios where outside paid help for director roles may be more suitable in certain condominiums where there is a lack of participation or consensus.

This is certainly a must-see discussion on a topic that has not sufficiently addressed in the past, but one that is increasingly relevant and one that can drastically alter the condominium landscape in Ontario.


2. Shared Facilities

When: Friday 2:15 pm – 3:30 pm
Where: 2C Session

The current President of ACMO, Catherine Murdock (DEL Property Management), leads a discussion with Stephen Chesney (Parker Garber Chesney), Deborah Holmes and Warren Kleiner (Miller Thomson), on issues with regards to shared facilities.

Managing shared facilities is an issue that comes up regularly in condos as different corporations have different standards, capabilities and resources to manage them. What do you do when a condo corporation has financial problems or high monthly fees and the board insists that the shared facilities fees be frozen or reduced?

It will be interesting to see how such issues will be addressed by the panel.


3. Status Certificates – Managers and Condo Corp Liability – It’s a Nightmare!

When: Saturday 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Where: 4A Session

Lawyer, Denise Lash (Lash Condo Law) moderates a panel consisting of Michael Kalisperas (Royale Grande Property Management) and David Thiel (Fogler, Rubinoff) on the topic of status certificates. Status certificates has been a hot topic of late – this discussion will revolve around recent precedence-setting cases, such as Orr v. MTCC # 1056.

This is one of the talks we are most excited for as there seems to be many misconceptions and ambiguity with status certificates. This talk promises to clear up a lot of the questions we have.


4. Directors’ Toolkit

When: Saturday 10:00 am – 11:00 am; 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Where: 4C/D and 5C/D Session

Geared for condominium directors, this two-part discussion is led by Chris Antipas (360 Community Management), with Cynthia Chung (Del Property Management), Alan Rosenberg (A.R. Consulting), Bradley Chaplick (Fine & Deo), Richard Pearlstein (Northcan Property Management) and Aji Montenegro (TSCC # 2062). It will go over valuable tools and advice to help board members better understand and manage day-to-day issues facing their corporations.

This is a great topic that can serve as a refresher for seasoned property managers and board members or as an introduction to newly appointed ones.


5. How Will the Proposed Changes to the Condominium Act and the Proposed Management Services Act Affect You?

When: Saturday 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Where: Closing Luncheon

The hottest topic in the Ontario condo landscape is the new Condo Act. Current President of CCI-Toronto, Mario Deo (Fine & Deo), along with Armand Conant (Shibley Righton) and Sally Thompson (Synergy Partners), address a wide range of topics on how the proposed changes will alter the industry.

From the establishment of the Condo Authority, to the use of electronic tools in condo management, to reserve funds and many more, this session will hopefully debunk some of the mystique surrounding this new Act.


Stop by to meet the Evercondo team at Booth #903. We’ll be giving away our awesome custom designed “Condo Management Rocks” t-shirts. We hope to see you there!

If you can’t make it, be sure to follow us at @EvercondoApp on Twitter for updates from the event. (You can still register to attend.)

How To Improve Participation in Condo Board Elections

condo board elections

Does the apple pie contest get more votes than your condo board elections? These tips will bring even the most reluctant of residents to the ballot box.

Let’s be honest, getting condo residents out to your association meeting is challenging at best. Some meetings don’t require a huge turnout, and that’s fine. You probably don’t need a large turnout for voting on a landscaping contract.

It’s a different story when you are scheduling condo board elections. This is a vote that will directly impact residents, and in order to keep your condo community happy, residents need to feel like they have a vested interest in how the property is managed.

[Read more…]

Traits of a Successful Condo Owners Association Member

Condo Owners AssociationFive ways to be a valuable asset to your condo owners association

You’ve been elected, and now you’re wondering how to be the best condo owners association (COA) member possible.

You want to be sure that you’re doing everything necessary to live up to your new responsibilities. You take your job seriously, and you want to be someone who improves life around you, not just sits by and watches things change.

Being a member on the board of any association is similar to being a part of a community. While a community gathers people together with a common interest or background, an association forms a group with a goal to better their common interest.

You already know that being part of the condo owners association is an important job. You’re creating a better living environment for yourself and your peers, and that, my friends, takes a lot of effort.

Want to be the best member of the condo owners association? Try one of these five tips: [Read more…]

5 Common Condo Board Responsibilities & How to Be a Superhero at Your Next Meeting

You might not get a comic book named after you, but if you tackle these condo board responsibilities, your neighbors will definitely consider you a superhero.

condo board responcibilites evercondo app

It’s Wednesday afternoon, and you’re preparing for your next condominium association meeting. As a new board member, you’d love to see the condo community more involved. Since you’ve been living here, the meetings have been pretty lackluster, with only a small number of association members attending, and even fewer speaking up.

In fact, it seems as if condo association members rarely mingle much at all, despite the beautiful common areas like the gym, courtyard, and barbecue pit.

But that’s going to change. You’re taking the condo board responsibilities seriously; after all, you live here with all these people. What exactly are those responsibilities, though? Even though serving as a condo board member is a volunteer activity, it’s still an important job. To residents, you are the face of the property management, and to the management, you are the representative of the condo association.

Here are five common condo board responsibilities, and how you can turn a boring meeting into your chance to be a superhero (cape not included). [Read more…]