- Condominium Manager Magazine, September 2013 (condolifemag.com)

I've mentioned in this space a few times before that the rules are changing for condominiums in Ontario and that the 15-year-old Condominium Act will be revised to offer even greater protection to the one-million-plus condo dwellers in the province.

Well, the wheels are in motion. The first of several recommendations from the Ontario government came in late July, when it declared that it would like to institute mandatory qualifications for condo managers.

"There is an overwhelming consensus that condominium managers be qualified and licensed to carry out their significant responsibilities," Consumer Services Minister Tracy MacCharles was quoted as saying. "One in 10 people in Ontario live in a condominium and their quality of life depends to a great degree on qualified, well-trained condominium managers.”

The government's review is looking at what mandatory qualifications there should be for condo managers and how to oversee licensing and standards. "Frankly, I think this is long overdue," Shlomo Sharon, CEO of Taft Forward Property Management Group, told me in a recent chat at his office. "There is a tremendous number of property managers in Ontario right now but very few are ACMO 2000. You have managers who are connected with ACMO but who have not necessarily been in compliance with the standards set by ACMO. ACMO hadn't had the teeth to ensure compliance. This is changing now and I'm delighted.”

ACMO stands for the Association of Condominium Managers in Ontario and ACMO 2000 was Sharon's way of referring to the ACMO 2000 Quality of Service certification program that managers heretofore were advised to obtain but not necessarily required to do so. Although many managers are responsible for buildings worth tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, with matching operating budgets, they have not been obligated to have training or an understanding of the Condominium Act. As Sharon said, this is changing - and it's about time.

"We're prepared for this and we wholeheartedly support it," said Saul York, president and CEO of Del Property Management Inc. "We applaud the government for recognizing the importance of the condominium management profession and the benefits of regulating it in our province.”

Condos represent about 50 per cent of new homes in Ontario. Ten per cent of the province's population lives in condos. There are about 600,000 condominium units and 9,000 condominium corporations.

Sharon believes strongly that the government should go a step further and ensure that directors on condo boards be educated and certified, as well. "Right now," Sharon said, "the only requirements for directors who get voted onto boards are that they be sane, discharged from any bankruptcies and over 18. I don't believe that's enough. Remember, managers only carry out directives from boards of directors at condos. Many of them lack knowledge of the Condo Act.

"It's my opinion that directors have at the very least a certificate from a two-day course that they should be compelled to attend, a course that can educate them on what the Condo Act is all about. This should be mandatory. Either you take the course before being voted to a board or you get 30 days in which to complete the course. And ACMO should provide these courses for the directors. Right now, as it stands, far too many boards and board directors don't have enough knowledge.”

Agreed. I'm hoping the government proceeds with Sharon's suggestion, as well. It needs to find a way to ensure that board directors learn and understand the condo concept, too. Unfortunately, as Sharon said, many directors lack fundamental knowledge. This must stop. The sooner, the better.