Transformation Through DCM
A 40-year old Condo Corp hired Dickenson Condo Management to help them. They were struggling with finances, maintenance and residents. We found the following:
- No by-laws or regular owners meetings
- No rules or regulations
- Garbage being dumped on site
- Parking issues
- Unruly tenants
- Deferred maintenance
- Missing funds
Before the end of the second year, DCM helped the Board implement necessary changes to meet the goals outlined by said Condo Corp. Through a series of maintenance and administrative assessments, DCM facilitated:
- Regular AGMs
- Their first set of rules
- Garbage collection procedures
- Designated parking and passes
- Enforcement of the Single-Family unit clause (no Airbnbs)
- A Reserve Fund Study and a catch-up on neglected elements
- An agreement with the prior property manager to repay all funds owing
A North London Condominium hired Dickenson Condo Management (DCM) in July 2018. Three of the five directors lived more than 3 hours away and the two directors who lived on site were fed up with residents’ lack of pride in their Corporation. After three offsite directors sold their units and resigned from the Board, three more members were added, who lived on site or close by. It was then that the progress could begin. Garbage, parking, unruly tenants and neglected common elements were the immediate concerns.
Dumpsters had been installed previously to try to clean up the complex. In the end, they just caused people to treat the complex like a dumping ground. The dumpsters were removed, and a resident was enlisted to help clean up each week as well as find those who were dumping illegally. There were no rules dealing with the proper garbage disposal prior to DCM’s management.
The neighbourhood had a free-for-all in the parking lots of this complex. Neighbouring properties and friends of residents filled the parking lot on a regular basis, causing residents and owners to have to park on the street at night. DCM began by identifying the vehicles that were unusable and being stored on site. The Board put together a parking plan and together, a set of parking rules were implemented. Parking tags were purchased and distributed and all vehicles belonging to the site were registered with management. No parking rules existed prior to DCM’s management.
A variety of tenant issues presented themselves at the beginning of Dickenson Condo Management’s involvement. From unlicensed vehicles, storage of construction debris in rear yards and on the common elements to interrupting work being done by Corporation contractors, the Board saw it all (and that was just one resident). DCM began by getting lease information from offsite owners, a requirement of the Condo Act. We then enforced the Declaration clause that requires only related people sharing a unit (Single-Family unit Clause). This is an on-going fight with Airbnb, but it is a battle the Board is winning. As the parking and garbage rules were implemented, we saw people cleaning up their act on site and taking more pride in the appearance of the property.
Neglected Common Elements
Even the cheapest fixes seemed to be avoided in the past. It had been years since the fences had started to fall in backyards, yet no repairs had been attempted. The roofs were partially replaced. Trees had grown unruly, stumps remained from previous removals and asphalt was crumbling throughout the complex. In the first months, the roofs were completed, and the fencing repaired. The new Board kept a close eye on all contractors, to make sure all work was done within budget, as funds were tight. Next, basement leaks started to appear as the fall rains began. The next year, signage was improved, a reserve fund study was started, tree trimming, and removals began, and plans for the next year’s foundation work, continued tree work and asphalt repairs were laid.
As Dickenson Condo Management took over the management of this complex, we discovered some discrepancies in the bookkeeping techniques of the prior property manager. A partial-year audit was completed and over $30,000 was missing from the Corporation’s coffers. The auditor and lawyer for the Corporation worked together with the Board over the next year to seek reimbursement from the prior manager. A tolling agreement and a settlement agreement were finally signed in late 2019, preserving the Board’s right to legal action despite the Statute of Limitations expiring before the settlement agreement would be finished. The full amount owing with some legal fees and interest will be fully collected by July 2020.
The previous Board had also been keeping fees artificially low. Unfortunately, the owners that remained after the old Board members sold their units had to pay a special assessment and a hike in condo fees to make up for the lack of foresight by the previous Board and previous management. The Board could not pay their bills when DCM started with them. They are now catching up on their deficits and budgeting for a surplus next year.
No rules and no by-laws make it difficult to govern a Corporation. The owners had not had a proper Annual General Meeting in years. Within the first season, the appointed Board members were properly elected at an AGM and regularly scheduled owners’ meetings are now called. The Board also created a set of rules to help residents live a more manageable lifestyle in the complex. The rules are reviewed semi-annually, to make sure they are reasonable and current. By-laws for operations and Standard Unit were presented to owners and the Board continues to try to get quorum to pass these by-laws at owners’ meetings.
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