What is a Condo Management Company?
Condominiums in Winnipeg can range from as few as 2 units, all the way up to hundreds of suites or town-home units. Each condo complex is actually a registered “Corporation” under the Manitoba Corporations Act, which is why they are known as Condo Corporations. The smaller ones, of perhaps 10 units or less, may opt to operate and govern themselves, but most of the larger corporations hire a Condo Management company to run their day-to-day affairs.
What do Condo Management Companies do?
They typically handle the condo fees coming into the account, and pay the bills going out. They hire the landscapers, snow-removal companies, make sure that the buildings are insured, do the banking, and typically deal with the day to day affairs of the corporation. For this, Condo Management companies charge typically between $15 and $25 per unit, per month. So a Condo Corp of 150 suites, may pay around $3,000 per month to the management company, as an example. Keep in mind that the Condo Corporation is actually made up of all the unit owners, so the Management Company works for the condo owners directly
As part of the day-to-day affairs, Condo Management companies are also responsible for keeping the books, and issuing copies of the budgets, financial statements, condo board meetings, etc. Three of the documents which they are responsible for are known at the ‘Disclosure Certificate’, the ‘Insurance Certificate’ and the ‘Management Agreement’. Let’s look at which these are, and how much they can cost.
Sample Condo Document Fees
As of Feb. 1st, 2015, The new Condo Act came into effect, compelling condo sellers to provide more extensive information about the condo they are selling. I fear that some Condo Management Companies may be taking advantage of this situation and charging exorbitant fees for some of these documents. We shall take a look at some actual fees being charged for three of these Condo Documents.
Condo Disclosure Certificate: $250 – $450
The main item, which is the Condo Disclosure Certificate, used to be 3-4 pages, and is, under the new Act, is around 15 pages. But it should be noted that about 90% of the information in that Certificate is the same for each and every unit within one Corporation. So it could be expected that, at the beginning of a year, the Management Company could fill out 90% of the info and then photocopy a few sets. The remaining, unique information such as unit #, suite #, current condo reserve balance, etc… would take about 30 minutes to fill out…..at most. Yet one company charges $250 for this Certificate, and $350 if it’s a ‘rush job’, and $450 for extreme rush!
But wait….it gets better. Here are some fees actually being charged by Condo Management Companies. Keep in mind that they are working for the condo-owners.
Insurance Certificate: $60
This is usually a one-page photocopy of a Certificate, which simply proves that the condo building is insured. Keep in mind that, as an owner of the building, you should be receiving this at no cost anyway. Think about this: If you are a house owner, and buy home insurance, don’t you receive a copy of the insurance agreement? Can you imagine Wawanesa or Red River Mutual charging you a fee to receive a copy of your own contract?
But if you misplace your condo insurance Certificate (or simply didn’t get one in the first place) a new photocopy of this form can set up back up to $60.00
Management Agreement: $60
This is the one that gets me the most. Can you imagine reaching an agreement with someone, and they turn around and charge you money simply to get a copy of this agreement? Yet some management companies charge $20, $30 or even up to $60.00 for a copy of this (usually) 5-6 page document.
Yeah, but what can you do about it?
Here is the bottom line: At some point in time, every condo owner is going to be looking at selling their suite, and will incur most of these costs. Take a look at what your current management company charges for documentation. If it seems that they are gouging you, maybe it’s time to look for a new management company?
Contracts with Management Companies usually run from 1-5 years. As a condo owner, have a discussion with your condo-board and check into alternatives. There are a number of well-run Condo Management Companies who do not charge such outrageous fees. Google-search Winnipeg Condo Management Companies and check them before signing another contract.
Other short-term solution
If you are currently ‘stuck with’ a condo management company which charges such exorbitant fees, there is one thing you can do that will help for now: Get a copy of the Management Agreement, the bi-laws, declaration and every other document you can, and make copies of them for yourself and for your other condo owners. All documents, with exception of the disclosure, are generic and NOT specific to any one condo unit.
So ask your President or VP to make extra copies and when you’re ready to sell, request those copies and in the process you can save a bunch of money.
Next think you can do is this: When it comes time to re-negotiate the Management Agreement, shop around. Call me for some information and advice. In my job, I’ve dealt with most of the local property management companies around and can help you pick a good one.
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