Condominium managers and condominium management companies petitioned hard to be recognized as industry professionals. A large part of their fight was to become licensed like professionals in other industries such as security and real estate. With their new-found licensing recognition came the Condominium Management Services Act, 2015 (the “Act” or “CMSA”) and the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO). The Act sets out the formal regulations for condo managers and condo management companies. The CMRAO is responsible for enforcing the Act while providing broad consumer protection through its licensing education programs, by enforcing a Code of Ethics and revoking licences when required.
Condo unit owners, directors and managers are all responsible adults. In general, most issues or conflicts can be resolved with as little stress and inconvenience as possible for all parties. If a condo owner has a beef with their condominium manager or management company their first order of recourse should be to reach out to the property’s condominium manager, board of directors or the condominium management company to raise and resolve the complaint. Of course, this will depend on the seriousness of the complaint. If a unit owner suspects a violation of the Code of Ethics, for example, inaccurate record-keeping, accepting gifts from contractors, not providing reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities, or acting in a harassing or discriminatory way to name a few, these are serious allegations.
Determine the nature of your complaint
Unit owners should exercise due diligence. Before you escalate to the CMRAO through its complaints process, ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is this something that can be resolved amicably in one-to-one discussions?
2) Have I laid out and explained my issue in writing thoroughly?
3) Have I raised the issue directly with the manager/management company first?
4) If yes, but I did not get a satisfactory response, have I brought the issue to the attention of the board?
5) If I am still not satisfied, have I reviewed other options?
6) Have I reviewed the CMRAO complaints process thoroughly prior to submitting my complaint against the condo manager or management company, and do I understand the timing and scope of their investigation and decision-making process?
The purpose of the CMRAO complaints process
The CMRAO complaints process is a legal process that is designed to evaluate whether a licensed manager or licensed management company has violated the governing Condominium Management Services Act, 2015. This includes a thorough review of the Code of Ethics.
The CMRAO follows a three-step process that includes: i) initial assessment, ii) information gathering and iii) review and decision. The entire step-by-step process can take up to 60 days, possibly longer.
Complaints the CMRAO will handle
Prior to launching your complaint with the CMRAO, unit owners would be wise to understand the types of complaints the CMRAO has jurisdiction over.
These include: whether the manager/management company is providing services without a valid licence; whether the manager/management company has not disclosed a conflict of interest; whether the manager/management company has solicited proxy forms in contravention of the CMSA; whether the manager/management company has failed to use its best efforts to prevent fraud or errors; and whether the manager/management company has failed to protect the best interests of the condominium corporation.
In short, the CMRAO will not handle complaints about repairs, maintenance or construction projects, liens, corporation records or other issues that are the responsibility of the condominium corporation’s board of directors. If a unit owner has a complaint along these lines, they would be wise to speak to their manager, management company or board first. If unresolved, complaints of this nature should be directed to the Condominium Authority of Ontario’s Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT).
A complete list of the types of complaints the CMRAO will handle and will not handle can be found on their website. For more information about the CMRAO, the Code of Ethics and the complaints process visit www.cmrao.ca