Managing Condo Building Disputes and Complaints

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Given the shared nature of condominium living, it is inevitable that disputes will occur. Condominium life is, in essence, communal living – where individuals reside or work or both – with more contact with one another than would otherwise occur. Furthermore, what one does in the privacy of his or her own unit may have a tremendous impact upon his or her neighbours.

In the everyday operation of condominiums, the most common disputes tend to be between the unit owner and the condominium corporation, and the usual method for resolving disputes is working out the issues among those concerned by negotiation between the parties. This may involve condominium board members, unit owners, occupants/tenants and a licensed property management company.

The following is a list of methods that will enable condo board members to resolve disputes in a quick and effective fashion or even avoid them altogether.

Dispose of Personal Agendas

The goal here must be to look beyond the traditional understanding of winning and losing and embrace a process that will advance the well-being of the greater condominium community. The interests of the condominium corporation and the interests of unit owners should not be at odds. Additionally, the goals of the condominium corporation should align very closely with the goals of all unit owners. In fact, when considering long-term interests, the argument exists that the interests of the condominium should be given greater deference. Individual unit owners purchase and sell to advance their personal interests, while the condominium must always advance the collective interest of all owners.

Provide Open Communication and Transparency

A management philosophy gaining traction in the domain of condominium board operations is the idea of providing greater transparency to their constituents or condo unit owners. Although some matters cannot be freely disclosed, such as ongoing litigation or sensitive employment issues, many owners desire better information and communication from their condo boards. One of the ways boards can convey their desire to communicate better with their constituents is by increasing the types and frequency of their communications. Some boards have created newsletters to announce upcoming meetings or outline projects undertaken by the board. They can also include reminders of rules that need to be followed and provide contact information for board members.

Give a Timely Response to Complaints

One of the biggest complaints heard by attorneys, managers, and neighbours from condo dwellers is that board members do not respond promptly to shareholder/owner complaints, or worse, they don’t even respond at all. Polite inquiries and even urgent problems are met with silence and repeated requests for action seem to fall on deaf ears. We’ve talked about communication already, but it’s definitely worth repeating. Good communication between all parties, managers, agents, shareholders and board members is the key to running a successful, solvent condo building. When the lines of communication break down at any point, problems and animosity are the almost unavoidable result.

Use a Property Management Company to Mediate

Mediation is used in order to give people a chance to have a less formal process in which to discuss and resolve their disputes. The mediator assists the parties and facilitates the process to arrive at a resolution. The mediator is not representative of any party and does not take sides, but rather, is involved in the process to assist all parties. An experienced and licensed property manager is an excellent option to consider as a mediator in the case of a dispute between two parties within a condominium building.

Looking to hire a licensed property management company?

Braden Equities Inc. has been successfully managing condominium buildings in Edmonton since the 1970s. A lot has changed since then, but our commitment to the residents living in each building we operate has not. Contact us today.

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