Choosing the right manager

Retaining the services of a condo manager should not be done blind folded. Unfortunately, a syndicate of co-owners wishing to find the real gem must often guesstimate or rely on intuition, as the relevant information useful to choose the right candidate is often inaccessible.

 

Finding the one

To alleviate this difficulty, you should ask the right questions to improve the odds of choosing the right candidate. At the very least, a syndicate of co-owners should look for an honest, skilled and responsive manager. Thus, it should pick a person whose commitment is unwavering, so the co-ownership’s best interest is protected at all times.

Defining the manager’s tasks

To find a good fit for your co-ownership, identifying your needs is a priority. The choice of a manager is dependent upon the immovable’s characteristics, such as its size, the presence of elevators, landscaping, employees, etc. You should also take into account the abilities (or lack of) of the directors to assume their duties, as well as co-owners’ expectations. After a careful assessment of your needs, you will be able to determine the tasks to be entrusted to the manager of your choice.

Is the prospective manager competent?

Although most managers are reliable and able to perform their basic tasks, finding the truly competent ones requires vigilance. Since this line of work is not officially recognized, making a fair and equitable candidate’s assessment is difficult. The problem is compounded by a lack of supervision and control to ensure the protection of the public.

It is thus in your best interest to ask the manager if his staff (including himself) has co-ownership management training. You should also find out if he has achieved an academic degree or professional diploma, and about his field experiences. Finally, make sure he is familiar with common IT tools, and with accounting, and that his organization is adequately staffed.

Using competition to your advantage

You should be rigorous in requesting and analyzing quotes submitted by several managers. You can do this by consulting their profile in the directory of suppliers of the Regroupement des gestionnaires et copropriétaires du Québec (the Quebec Managers and Co-owners’ Association). Also ask references from other syndicates of co-owners which have used the services of the prospective managers, and talk to their directors to find out their assessment of their performance.

Due diligence

To find the right manager, a syndicate of co-owners should:

  • Interview several candidates;
  • Find out if the applicants are working in a structured organization, so that the syndicate will (inter alia) interact with the same person(s) in most circumstances;
  • Obtain information on the number of units under management, and be wary of those who take on to many tasks to maximize their fees;
  • Verify if the management company has longstanding working relations with its clients. Short-term business relationships may be an indication of a dysfunctional business;
  • Verify when the company was set up, which is a valid indication of its strength and reliability;
  • Verify the management firm’s credit rating;
  • Make sure the candidates have clean criminal records;
  • Require proof of civil liability insurance or copies of any other insurance certificate.

You should keep in mind that those managers who are members of a professional Order must abide by a code of ethics. If they were to commit fraud, the syndicate of co-owners would receive financial compensation. The others, even though generally well-intentioned, cannot offer such assurances.

Determining fees: be wary of loss leader pricing!

Compare apples with apples. Management firm’s contracts are, as a rule, based on a lump sum payment based on the number of apartments in the co-ownership. In this field, the "per door" tariff formula is widespread. In reality, the contracts differ from one management firm to another, which renders their analysis difficult. Choosing the least expensive manager, can result in substandard services, or the frequent payment of extras and special management fees for certain services rendered (such as, convening and holding general meetings and supervising work).

 WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW! Sound co-ownership governance depends, first and foremost, on the relationship between the manager, the co-owners and the Board of Directors. Remember that even though professional work and ridiculously low price prices are usually incompatible, competent well-recognized and honest managers are not always the most expensive.

 WHAT YOU SHOULD KEEP IN MIND:The manager should be a long-term partner. One should not use his services only when a social crisis erupts in the co-ownership, but rather retain his services before it happens. A true intermediary playing several roles, including that of buffer between co-owners and administrators, his goal is to be a long term partner of the community of co-owners.

 WARNING! Make sure your manager is honest. Some bad apples have recently made headlines, after embezzling one or more co-ownership’s funds. Although the vast majority of managers are honest, retaining their services requires due diligence.

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