There are many cases in Toronto & GTA when condo management systems creates power dynamics that contribute to bullying. Directors may vie for control and influence over decisions, leading to a toxic environment where bullying becomes a means of exerting dominance and maintaining authority. What are the main reasons of bullying and what is financial effect?
Bullying often arises when there are differing views or disagreements among condo directors and owners. Instead of engaging in respectful discussions and finding common ground, some individuals resort to bullying tactics to assert their own opinions and suppress opposite viewpoints. But bullying in condominiums is not just a conflict between people. The price of bullying for condo owners is too high to tolerate.
Board meeting minutes are censored and do not disclose the most important information
There are a lot of stories about bullying of condo directors and owners had been told and written. And the man problem is not just communication, unfortunately. Taking into account the board meetings’ minutes are censored. They include the information about board decisions, but they do not include any information why such decision are made, and not any information about polarity of opinions of directors.
So, condo owners are not aware of the most important information, who of directors shares the majority of condo owners values and interests and who do not. Poor communication channels, and a lack of transparency from boards of directors and managers can create an environment of mistrust and animosity, fuelling bullying incidents.
When there is a lack of accountability within the condo management system, directors may feel emboldened to engage in bullying behaviour without facing consequences. And the fact condo lawyers get paid by the board on behalf of the corporation, does not encourage them to investigate the cases properly, check the facts to protect condo owners’ interests. Condo lawyers do whatever the board requested because the board pays them. But taking into account, in many cases of bullying, the board directors are manipulated by one or two persons (the other members just follow), that are not interested in any changes and improvements. For understandable reasons, they are interested to shut down an opposite opinion.
As a result, condo lawyers shut down anybody who wants to make any improvements in the processes. No any changes are possible. This absence of checks allows the cycle of bullying to persist…
To change the situation, it is important to address these underlying issues within the condo management system to mitigate bullying and create a more harmonious and inclusive community. This may involve implementing clearer communication channels, promoting transparency, fostering respectful discussions, and establishing mechanisms for conflict resolution and accountability.
One priceless web resource created by one of the condo director Anne-Marie Ambert, Ph.D.
University Professor, that wanted to help other condo owners and directors with an advice through condoinformation.ca
Since June 2009 till May 2017 years she has got 5,736 letters from desperate condo owners of ~ 48% of Toronto Condominiums.
Based on that, the major problems mentioned in condo owners and directors’ letters were:
Financial problems – (53.5 % letters) and lack of communication from boards of directors and/or managers (49 % letters). 15 % of letters included problem with fraud and kickbacks, and 32 % letters (~ 1835 letters) included bullying. Considering that not everyone who experienced that knew about that resource and not everyone had found the time and wish to write and feel the same negative emotions, and the most of bullied people felt frustrated and hopeless to change something, bullying is a huge problem in Ontario.
Every letter included more than one problem. So, the graph below indicates a percentage of letters that included a particular problem.
Two condo directors of 2 different condominiums told me their stories recently. And my personal experience was absolutely the same, and have raised important questions about the behaviour and motivations of some condo managers, board directors, and condo lawyers. While I can provide some insights, it’s essential to remember that individual experiences can vary, and not all individuals within these roles may exhibit the same behaviour or motivations.
However, there are some commonalities related to almost all cases of bullying studied:
- Hiding service costs: Some condo managers and board directors may want to hide the costs of condo services to maintain control or to avoid scrutiny from condo owners. Transparency about costs could lead to questions about the allocation of funds or potential conflicts of interest.
- Compliance with board requests: Condo lawyers may support board requests without thorough verification for various reasons. It could be due to a lack of time or resources to conduct a comprehensive review, or they may have a longstanding relationship with the board and provide support as a default position.
- Bias of condo lawyers: While condo lawyers should act in the best interests of the condo corporation, there may be instances where a lawyer’s relationship or alignment with the board members influences their perspective or advice. Because the board pays them on behalf of a corporation. This bias could impact their objectivity and willingness to challenge or question board decisions.
- Protection of board members vs. condo owners: Condo lawyers should prioritize the protection of the condo corporation and its owners. However, there may be cases where lawyers prioritize the interests of the board members they work closely with, potentially neglecting the needs or concerns of individual condo owners.
- Reluctance to invite independent contractors: Some condo management companies may be hesitant to invite independent contractors due to a variety of reasons. They might have established relationships with certain contractors or receive incentives from them. They may justify their position that independent contractors may disrupt the existing system or introduce uncertainties.
Usual scenario of condo directors bullying cases
A condo owner/ or a director inquiry or action :
- to check condo service providers' prices against the market or
- to find a service provider outside of a usual list offered by a condo manager
Somebody of directors brings some negative information about that director/or owner to:
- accuse that director/owner in some kind of relationships with contractors,
- accuse in something else
The lawyer's letter that is:
- to scare and shut director or owner down rather than to investigate a case, and act in the best condo owners interests.
Director's position is not paid. Who does want to spend the priceless time being frustrated and hopeless to change something to good, feeling stressed and disrespected, tolerate gossip & defamation?
People step back and everything stays the same...
Condo directors bullying might prevents any positive financial changes in your condominium
Taking into account tremendous condo owners financial and non-financial risks described:
Property management companies put condo owners in conditions of the highest financial and non-financial risks bringing the same contractors, they work with for long time to make a scope assessment, to do the job according to their own assessment, and not inviting other independent companies even to check the price.
The practice of consistently hiring the same contractors for unplanned jobs without inviting other independent companies for price comparisons can raise concerns about transparency and fairness. While I can’t speak to specific instances, here are some possible reasons for such behavior:
- Established relationships: Condo management companies may have established long-term relationships with certain contractors. These relationships could be based on trust, reliability, and past satisfactory performance. As a result, they may default to these contractors for convenience and familiarity, without actively seeking alternative options.
- Efficiency and time-saving: Working with familiar contractors can save time and effort in terms of scoping assessments and project management. The management company and board may prioritize efficiency and the ability to quickly address the issue over the potential benefits of seeking competitive bids.
- Perceived risk avoidance: Some management companies and board directors may perceive less risk in working with known contractors. They may believe that using the same contractors ensures consistent quality and minimizes potential issues or complications that could arise from working with new or unfamiliar companies.
- Limited resources: Condo management companies might have limited resources, such as time, personnel, or expertise, to actively seek out and evaluate multiple contractors for each job. This constraint may lead them to rely on their existing network of contractors instead of conducting a broader search for independent companies.
However, it’s important to note that these reasons do not excuse the lack of transparency or the potential for bias in contractor selection. To promote fairness, accountability, and cost-effectiveness, it is advisable for management companies and boards to periodically review their contractor relationships, actively seek competitive bids for projects, and consider the best interests of the condo owners when making decisions related to contractors and service providers.
Condo directors bullying price for condo owners
Self-managed condominiums have average condo fee ~19 % lower than professionally-managed once and ~ 9% higher market value:
Condo directors bullying is a big problem of the condo management industry in Ontario that might cost condo owners extra expenses ~ 19 %, and not the best quality of services that might decrease market value by ~ 9 %.
We have to change the old way of condo management that is not the most efficient for condo owners right now, when the most of people exhausted paying their mortgages that cover just a skyrocket interest.
It’s important to address these concerns and work towards a more transparent and fair condo management system. Engaging in open discussions, advocating for transparency, and holding board members, managers, and lawyers accountable can contribute to a healthier and more responsible condominium environment.
But we cannot change anything doing the same way.
We have to start doing old things differently to really change the system.
- Condo owners and directors that want to make positive changes in a particular condominium should not keep silence if they are being bullied. Now, you have a voice and you will be heard!
Please click REPLAY to start sharing your story in the widget below Your voice makes a difference! If you want to share more stories: Thank you in advance! ❤️
2. You have comparable information to compare condo fees and condo service prices, quality that might be verified by a director of the condominium that used a service of that contractor.
3. And now, you have a voice to select independent contractors because there are some management companies that are very interested to save condo directors’ money. They keep a list of verified contractors they worked with for a long time but they always invite independent contractors through open fair tender and a combination of the best quality of services and the best price are the only criterium of their selection for the condo owners’ projects and contracts.
As Joe Biden told at 2023 Anti-Monopoly Summit “,… capitalism without competition is a exploitation….”.