In this second instalment of our close examination of the proposed new Condominium Management
Standards Services Act, 2015, we look at the steps taken by the condo managers themselves to improve standards, forming the genesis of a true self-regulated profession and paving the way for Bill 106 to take root.
Early steps to raise the bar
While condo owners and directors have called for improved standards during the Ontario government’s Condo Act review process since 2012, the loudest and longest call for educated, licensed and regulated condo managers has come from the condo managers themselves. Their association has been leading by example.
Since 1977, the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario (“ACMO”) has worked to increase standards and accountability of condo managers by:
- Rolling out a distinctive professional designation (“Registered Condominium Manager” or “RCM”) for individuals who meet meaningful educational and experiential requirements;
- Developing substantial educational courses that are now offered in certificate programs at three or more community colleges and online;
- Devising and enforcing mandatory codes of ethics for both individual managers and corporate members;
- Mandating continuing education for its members and providing educational programming and resources through seminars and conferences of all sizes across Ontario for member and non-member managers alike;
- Creating and administering the ACMO 2000 certification program for condo management firms, a voluntary ISO-style accreditation program based on quality assurance systems and customer service;
- Investigating complaints from condo boards as to member misconduct and instituting discipline procedures leading to suspension or revocation of designations, certifications and membership; and
- Advocating for their profession to be self-regulated so as to protect the condominium public and to cast out the incompetent and unethical.
At this moment, ACMO is the only player to have established minimum standards, accreditation and some form of regulation for condo managers, but the fact that membership is voluntary leaves a large gap in the safety net.
Most reputable condo managers and management firms are ACMO members and over 850 individuals and almost 50 firms have been granted ACMO’s impressive credentials over the years, but a large number of managers and firms choose not to hold membership or subscribe to ACMO’s standards and codes.
Other than whatever might be contained in a poorly-worded contract, these individuals and firms outside of ACMO have no obligation to their clients and respective unit owners. A mandatory system with consistent and predictable requirements is needed.
The phenomenal growth in the number of condominiums requiring professional management over the last 20 years has far exceeded the creation and supply of skilled, professional managers. Over the past 35 years and despite increased enrolment and recognition that condo management is a growth field, ACMO has anointed fewer than 1,000 RCMs. Considering that an estimated 2,500 people are managing condominiums today (which will rise), the proportion of well-qualified managers subject to a meaningful code of ethics is much too low and will likely drop as thousands of newly-constructed units come online in the next few years, requiring ever-more bodies to fill management positions.
Implementing mandatory higher educational and ethical standards right now is the only way to avert future catastrophes. The natural supply and demand forces in marketplace will not provide consumers the services and protection they need. Government-mandated regulation is the only effective answer.