Condo board roles and responsibilities

Updated September 12, 2022

Condo boards are a major part of condo life. If you own or live in a condominium, your condo board oversees many aspects of your home. So, of course, you want to know exactly how condo boards work and how much power they truly have.

In this article, we’ll cover condo boards, their responsibilities, plus everything condo owners should know about their own boards.

six condo board members sitting around a table

What is a condo board?

A condo board is a group of people responsible for managing a condominium. Depending on where you live, you might use different terms. Other terms for condo board include board of directors and strata council. In Quebec, you might hear the term syndicate, which refers to the condo board and all of the building’s co-owners.

The details of the condo board vary from condo to condo, because those details are spelled out in each building’s declaration and bylaws. There are many aspects of the board that can be customized for each condo property, including:

  • How many members the board has
  • Who is permitted to serve on the board
  • How board members are elected
  • What the board members’ roles are

It’s important to note that any condo building may function differently from another, though all condos in Canada must adhere to provincial condo legislation.

The members of a condo board are elected to their positions. The number of people on the board varies, but 3-7 members is the standard in BC, for example.

Condo board elections are typically held annually; the vote is usually during the condo property’s annual general meeting. Sometimes, the only people who vote on the condo board are the building’s owners. However, internal bylaws often allow others to vote. Other potential voters include tenants, property managers, or lawyers.

In some cases, board members are paid for the work they perform. The board’s compensation is another thing the bylaws dictate.

How much power does a condo board have?

Owners or residents elect condo boards. Once elected, the board does have a degree of control over the operations of the condo building. However, condo boards are restricted by the condo corporation’s governing documents—the aforementioned declaration and bylaws.

Accordingly, different condo properties afford their boards different levels of power. But, ultimately, the board answers to the owners. If board members are overstepping their authority, owners can vote to remove them from their position.

In fact, owners and other residents often vote on issues directly, rather than the board acting independently. Budgets, bylaw amendments, vendor contracts, and many other things typically need ratification by condo owner votes.

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What are the roles and responsibilities of a condo board?

While the number of members on a condo board varies, several roles are present on most boards. These roles are crucial for ensuring that the board and its meetings function smoothly:

  • President. The lead member, ultimately responsible for overseeing the property’s operation.
  • Vice-president. Fills in for the president when they can’t perform their duties, and generally helps lighten the load.
  • Treasurer. The member most responsible for the building’s financials. Hopefully, someone with strong financial literacy.
  • Secretary. It’s a requirement that someone records accurate minutes of all condo board and owner meetings—that’s the primary role of the secretary.

As the group primarily responsible for operating the condo property, the responsibilities of a condo board are extensive. The board must:

  • Run meetings. Condo buildings must have at least an annual general meeting, where owners learn the state of the condo’s financials and elect a new board for the upcoming year. Many buildings have smaller meetings more frequently. Meetings are also where the board and owners can change or vote on bylaws.
  • Prepare budgets and financial statements. A condo property, especially a large one, is a complex entity that collects and spends a lot of money. Maintenance, insurance, and improvements all need a place in the budget. The building’s long-term financials need to be in order as well; a financial plan is essential for any condo property, as is the prudent use of resources.
  • Keep records. In addition to financial information, the condo board needs to keep records for every other aspect of operating the condo: names of owners and residents, maintenance history, and so on. They also must be able to produce records upon request promptly.
  • Collect condo fees. Condo owners pay a monthly fee to the condo board. These fees go towards maintenance, reserve funds, insurance, and everything laid out in the budget. It’s the board’s responsibility to collect fees and direct them to where they need to go.
  • Manage insurance. While each owner is responsible for buying their own condo owner’s policy, the condo corporation handles the property’s master policy. The master policy covers the common property and standard units.
  • Enforce bylaws and rules. Bylaws don’t just define the board and their responsibilities; bylaws also stipulate what owners may do to their unit, how they can use common property, and a wide range of other things about the property. Rules are similar, but control smaller items (like where dogs need leashes). The board is responsible for ensuring residents and guests abide by all rules and bylaws.
  • Approve unit alterations. Most condo buildings have bylaws that limit what owners can modify in or around their units. In many cases, major alterations require approval from the board.
  • Managing common property. Many buildings have facilities open to all owners, like fitness centres or pools. Shared facilities are under the board’s jurisdiction.

Condo boards have a wide range of responsibilities. In a large condo building, these tasks can quickly add up to full-time work for more than one person.

To help keep things running smoothly, most condo boards hire a property manager to take care of many day-to-day operations. While the board is ultimately responsible for ensuring that everything is taken care of, the property manager does much of the work in these cases. That often includes hiring additional staff for everyday maintenance, cleaning, and other essential tasks.

What makes a good condo board?

Undoubtedly, the condo board has a great deal of responsibility.

Board members should always act in good faith, putting the needs of the building and the owners first. It should be easy for owners to reach their board members if needed.

And, board members should openly disclose any personal stake in matters relating to the condo. For example, let’s say a condo building is seeking quotes for someone to repaint the exterior. One board member’s spouse owns a painting company that’s going to bid on the job. That board member would be expected to disclose that fact and recuse themself from the process.

A good board of directors communicates with owners regularly. Every decision they make should have a clear explanation, and you should expect complete transparency on all matters. When residents lodge a complaint with the board, you should expect those complaints to be taken seriously.

What should owners know about their condo board?

If you live in a condo building, it’s important that you pay attention to your condo board. After all, this group has a notable degree of control over your home—some people refer to condo corporations as the fourth level of government.

First of all, you should get to know the people who serve on your condo board. Being on good terms will help if you ever need their assistance.

Plus, knowing your board members will help you feel secure that they’re the right people for the job. Ideally, condo board members should be financially literate, with some degree of business experience. This becomes truer as the size of the condo building gets larger. A four-person townhouse complex might not need a Fortune-500 CEO at the helm, but a 300-unit highrise would undoubtedly benefit from an experienced board.

If you’re considering buying a condo, you should make an effort to acquaint yourself with the board and governing documents before making an offer. You can (and should) also ask for documentation on bylaws, finances, insurance, and depreciation reports. A competent condo corporation should be able to provide these documents promptly, and in an organized fashion.

And finally, you should attend meetings as often as possible, especially the annual general meeting.

You’ll never regret taking an active role in the management of your home building. You might even consider running for a board position yourself—remembering, of course, the responsibilities that go with that role.

Want to learn more? Visit our Condo Owner resource centre for more helpful articles about the intricacies of condo life. Or, get an online quote in under 5 minutes and find out how affordable personalized home insurance can be.

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