|CONDOCENTRIC: THE ART OF COMMUNICATION – Reaching Out to Purchasers|
CONDOMINIUM PURCHASERS UNAWARE OF THE PRESENCE OF CREATURES!!!
Many condominium purchasers do not realize that 3 unique creatures exist everywhere in their condominiums – they are the Declaration, by-laws and rules!
This has been raised as a concern in the Ontario legislature within the context of proposed changes to the Condominium Act, 1998 and considered at the ADR Institute of Ontario’s recent discussion on condominium disputes.
Why are these creatures so important? Because they set the expectations of those living in the condominium community. They are the keys to the car or the rules of engagement. Would you buy a car but not ask for the keys?
Condominium purchasers are offered the chance to learn about these strange creatures, unique to each community, through a review of the Status Certificate before buying. As we constantly see purchasers (knowingly and unknowingly) avoid the time and cost involved in a Status Certificate review, the results can be disastrous, disappointing and disheartening.
While, somewhat after the fact, it is nonetheless fortunate that Boards and property managers are increasingly taking action to help new owners help themselves. They are circulating welcome packages and undertaking other efforts to educate those new to the condominium. Such efforts should be applauded as they capitalize on an opportunity to educate new owners in the course of welcoming them to the community and, in many cases, the condominium lifestyle. This facilitates a clearer communication to owners of what the condominium community is all about and shapes expectations for living in it. For those new to the condo lifestyle, it can be a shock to the system (i.e. “What do you mean I can’t choose the colour of my own curtains or hang a wreath on my unit door?”).
In reflecting upon the benefits of educating new owners on the issues that often arise as a result of lack of knowledge, I wonder if we should consider taking these communications a step farther?
An advantage of reaching out to both prospective purchasers and existing owners / residents is that the Board has the opportunity to control the message. We recommend that the message be positive and the focus be on sharing facts about the community, as opposed to anything which may be controversial or subjective.
It is prudent to be cautious as to how much information is shared. Thus, consulting with counsel around these parameters is key.
As helpful as welcome packages and other endeavors are to welcoming and educating new owners into the condominium community, it is not always the case that the Board or property management is aware of a new owner’s existence. The onus is on the owner to give written notice to the condominium corporation to update its records and it is not uncommon for this process to be unknown, neglected or even ignored. Extending efforts to reach out to potential and new purchasers such as set out above can help overcome this obstacle.
While the focus of this article is upon educating those new to their condominium community, it cannot be assumed that uninformed purchasers become educated owners over the course of time. Just like continuing education is important for those servicing condominium communities, efforts to educate and keep existing residents and owners informed are worthwhile. This will be expanded upon in a future edition of the “Art of Communication” article series.
By Marc Bhalla - June 2012
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All of the information contained in this article is of a general nature for informational purposes only, and is not intended to represent the definitive opinion of the firm of Elia Associates on any particular matter. Although every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this newsletter is accurate and up-to-date, the reader should not act upon it without obtaining appropriate professional advice and assistance.