By: Phillip Livingston -
Do you have a grievance against your condo’s management? Don’t know where to go or where to start? You’ve come to the right place. In the following article, we’ll explore the correct process to follow if you want to successfully file a valid complaint against your condo’s management. This is based on current industry legislation and best practices. Read on for more.
Start by contacting the condo management company
The first step to filing a complaint against a condo management company is to contact them directly. Make it clear in the email or telephone call that you want an in-person meeting with your condo’s manager.
If the condo management company is slow to respond to your complaint or seems complacent about the matter, by all means, move onto the next step.
Depending on where you live, you’ll either file the complaint directly or through the board of directors. The newly updated Condominium Management Services Act states that anyone can file a complaint against a condo manager or management company in Ontario. But, tenants in British Colombia must go through a board of directors.
Either way, you’ll have to submit the complaint in writing just to be on the safe side. After all, it’s much easier for details to get lost in the mix when complaints are submitted via telephone. Or, someone might misconstrue your words or fail to clearly relay the message.
The best way to make sure that your complaint is heard and understood is to convey it in your own words and in writing.
You can then submit your complaint to the Registrar of the Condominium Authority to kick-start proceedings. Once they receive your complaint, the Registrar will contact the manager to get his/her side of the story on the matter.
Unfortunately, there’s no time frame that the manager must adhere to when submitting the complaint. Perhaps the Registrar is working on a guideline which will include such information in the future.
Once the Registrar has seen and deliberated on both points of view, they’ll apply one of the following resolutions:
They’ll try and resolve the complaint through some form of the mediation process. This entails getting you and the condo manager to communicate with each other to solve the problem.
They’ll issue a written warning to the condo management. This letter may caution the condo manager to cease the activity which leads to the complaint or face further action from the Registrar.
The Registrar might require the manager to take additional educational courses to solve the behavior. This might be useful if the offending behavior was the result of ignorance on the part of the condo management.
Place the manager under suspension or rescind their license.Escalate the issue to the Discipline Committee. This solution is often applied in cases where there has been a breach in the Registrar’s Code of Ethics.
Take further action against the condo manager according to the severity of the matter, and based on current legislation.
About the Discipline Committee
The Discipline Committee is responsible for hearing cases related to complaints against condo management. They’re also tasked with deciding whether or not the manager’s behavior was against the Registrar’s Code of Ethics.
Should the condo manager be found in contradiction of the Code of Ethics, they’ll face one of the following penalties:
Agree to take additional educational courses
Pay a fine of up to $25, 000 depending on the severity of the offense. This fine goes to the Condominium Administrative Authority and must be paid within 60 days from the decision date. Failure to pay the fine within the 60 day period may lead to liens against the condo manager’s property.
The consequences for a condo management company that contravenes the Condominium Management Services Act include a fine of up to $250, 000. If an individual condo manager has committed the offense, they could be liable to pay a fine of up to $50, 000 or face 2 years of imprisonment.
Take the condo management company to court
If your complaint is outside of the scope of the Registrar and Discipline Committee, you might have to file a lawsuit against the company. Just make sure you have an experienced attorney by your side. Preferably someone who’s knowledgeable about state and county legislation as it relates to condominium management. Consulting an attorney before you make this decision will help you figure out if it’s the best action to take. Sometimes you have to view a situation from a different perspective before you come to any final conclusions.
What if my Condo Building is run by an HOA?
Every homeowner’s association (HOA) has its own Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, also known as CC&R’s. These documents usually contain a section on how to file a complaint against the HOA. So, if your condo building is managed by an HOA then you’ll have to follow the procedure laid out in the CC&R’s.
Generally, you’d start by writing a formal letter of complaint to the HOA management. This letter should follow the same format as a formal business letter. For best results, start by identifying the problem and describing it exactly as it is.
Then, mail the letter to your HOA. If you want the letter to be taken seriously, ensure that its certified mail, with a return receipt. That way, you can have proof that you’ve sent the letter and that the HOA received it. Also, don’t forget to keep a copy of the letter for your own records.
Filing a Complaint through a Regulatory Body
There are several regulatory bodies within each province and they all follow a similar complaints procedure. Below we’re going to outline the complaints process followed by the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario or CMRAO for short. This will give you an idea of what to expect when filing a complaint at one of these regulatory bodies.
The CMRAO is responsible for licensing many of the condo buildings in the Ontario Province, and their duty is to protect the interests of their licensees. This means if the CMRAO receives a complaint about one of their clients, they may request information from the accused licensee about the matter.
The licensee is not allowed to interfere with or obstruct anyone from making a complaint to the CMRAO. Licensees are also forbidden from deterring a director, tenant, condo board or Condo Management Company from providing information related to the case.
When the CMRAO receives a complaint, they start by assessing it before it’s escalated as appropriate. The Registrar will refer specific complaints to a discipline panel, which will determine if the licensee has broken the Code of Ethics.
The CMRAO is committed to protecting consumers through effective regulation. They also play a role in strengthening the condo management profession so that owners have confidence in the individuals and companies responsible for managing their homes.
Filing an Online Complaint
Alternatively, you may lodge a complaint online through the Condominium Tribunal Authority (CTA). The CTA is the first organization of its kind in Canada and was launched in 2017 by the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) as an online dispute resolution service. The CTA is a great way to quickly and efficiently resolve conflicts and disputes in the
condominium industry without the extra paperwork, time and effort it usually takes to process a manual complaint. But, both parties must cooperate in order to realize the efficiency of this online service.
On a side note, it’s interesting to note that most of the complaints that land on the Condo Owner’s Association desk originates from condo owners. Only a small fraction comes from the Condo Board of Directors. That’s why this article is aimed at empowering condo owners with knowledge of how to accurately file a complaint against condo management.
Some of the most common complaints that condo owners send through to the association include:
Fraud by condo manager
Lack of communication on key matters from condo management
Misappropriation of reserve funds
Conflicts of interest with service providers
Lack of proper maintenance of common areas
Unexplained increase in maintenance fees
Awarding contracts without following proper bidding procedure
Abuse of power
If you experience one or any of the behaviors outlined above, then you’re well within your rights to file a complaint!
As you can see, filing a complaint against condo management can be as simple as dropping them a phone call or it could escalate into a full-blown court case. You’ll probably end up somewhere in the middle where it’s easier to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.
Otherwise, you have several avenues available to you through which to file a complaint. Our advice would be to take stock of the situation as a whole and seek advice from an experienced attorney before you proceed. That way you’ll know which authority to contact and the process you should follow.