Most co-ownership directors perform their function as volunteers. But, contrary to popular belief, they can be paid. Their remuneration takes various forms: salary, honorariums and attendance fees, just to name a few. This financial compensation, a part of the administrative expenses of the co-ownership, may also include the reimbursement of some expenses incurred by a director.
Declaration of co-ownership
The By-Laws of the immovable contains the rules relating to the directors remuneration, as well as other conditions of their office. Insofar as the constituting act is concerned, it determines who, from the Board of Directors or the general meeting of co-owners, grants financial compensation to the directors.
The declaration of co-ownership generally provides as follows:
However, the constituting act may validly provide for the remuneration to be decided by the Board of directors. If this is the case, a director may be called upon to vote on his own remuneration. Although this practice is ethically debatable, it is not illegal as such: Article 325 of the Civil Code of Québec allows it.
Remuneration consists of indemnifying a director for the time he devotes to his office, which consists of serving on the Board of Directors. Often, he receives a symbolic sum called "attendance fees”. These fees are intended to reward the attendance and commitment of the Board of directors’ members.
A director may, in addition to his remuneration, be reimbursed for reasonable costs and expenses incurred in the performance of his duties. This is the case for certain sums he has to advance, such as travel expenses (mileage, gasoline and parking).
In some co-ownerships, directors do not always distinguish between governance (decision-making) and management (implementation of decisions taken). This situation is frequent in the absence of a co-ownership manager, who normally assists the Board of Directors. In addition to the responsibilities incumbent upon them, the directors are therefore called upon to act as a condo manager. For this reason, nothing prohibits the syndicate from paying them to manage the co-ownership, or to render special services, such as, bookkeeping and human ressources management.
Benefits and disadvantages
Remunerating directors has the following benefits:
In addition, compensating directors for time spent on tasks usually performed by a manager is sometimes essential. It should be noted that small co-ownerships, with 2 to 12 apartments, sometimes find it difficult to hire an external manager. Why? Because, most managers are not interested as they do not find it financially attractive.
This being said, directors who perform tasks normally delegated to managers do not always have all the required skills. To accomplish this mission, they must be proficient in legal, technical and accounting matters. If they do not have the knowledge to carry out all of their duties, they will be called upon to hire professionals (lawyers, notaries, accountants, engineers and architects) and to acquire a variety of aids, such as computer hardware and guides. This obviously entails additional costs.
The salaries, fees and attendance fees paid to directors represent employment incomes. Thus, the syndicate must make the required deductions at source, including those related to the “Régime des rentes du Québec (RRQ)” (Québec Pension Plan) and the “Régime québecois d’assurance parentale” (RQAP) (Québec Parental Insurance Plan). If the remuneration exceeds basic personal exemptions, the syndicate will also have to proceed to withholding tax on the sums paid. However, reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred by directors, subject to the presentation of supporting documents, is not taxable.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW! Remunerating directors is an acknowledgment of their commitment to serve the collectivity. The money paid is an expense of all co-owners and must be taken into account in the provisional budget of the co-ownership.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND! The remuneration of a director often results from assuming important responsibilities, or from timely and assiduous interventions. For example, in the event of a dispute, the director often plays a key role.
WARNING! In the event of a fault committed by a volunteer director, civil liability assessment is more lenient. The Courts (sometimes) assess the extent of damages caused by a volunteer director less rigorously. However, volunteering is not synonymous with impunity.
CONSULT THE PUBLICATION: “Administrateur de condo, Tout ce qu’il faut savoir” (Condo Administrator, All you need to know)