For many of us, a New Year brings a sense of a fresh start. And, it’s the perfect time to take that feeling and translate it into positive action. Condominium communities can certainly take some steps to ring in the New Year on the right note! The following are some suggestions, that we at GPM Property Management, hope you find helpful.
Going Green: A New Year can give a sense of wanting to do better for the planet. This is the perfect time to begin, or revive, Corporation green initiatives. Notices can be sent or posted that give Residents easy things they can do to reduce utility consumption, and help the building be greener when it comes to waste & recycling. If you haven’t already, set-up an area to collect things like batteries and florescent light bulbs. This helps to avoid these items from inadvertently going into landfill. Set-up days for a special pick-up of toxic waste such as paint cans, vehicle fluids, defective smoke detectors and more. Encourage residents to bring those items to a collection area for those special pick-up days. So many people are becoming more and more concerned about the environment, and all green initiatives will likely be quite welcome by the residents in your community.
Health & Fitness: Management can post or send a notice with some encouraging fitness ideas! This notice could even include pictures of equipment located in the onsite fitness room (where applicable), or some information about nearby parks and trails. January weather in Ontario might not always be the best for outdoor exercise, but some residents just might like the information all the same! Another nice idea might be to link residents to the City’s Recreation Schedule/Website. One thing to be mindful of though, fitness advertising can be at a fever-pitch in January, so keeping the tone light and helpful might be the way go to with this topic.
Improved Communication: Communication is the number one key to keeping a Condominium running smoothly. Admittedly, Condo owners and residents are busy people. They may not always read the communications the Board and Management put out, but it’s still good practice to communicate effectively all the same. Let the residents know what’s going on around the building/community, even the more minor items such as putting down winter mats, servicing an elevator, etc. This lets the residents know that Management/Staff/Board are being proactive about maintenance. It also gives a sense of progress, and let’s everyone know that there is lots going on in the background to keep their building clean & safe.
Promoting Good Neighbours: A new year; a fresh start. This is a perfect time to share some positive and friendly ways that residents can be good neighbours to each other. Just some simple things everyone can do, such as using exhaust fans while cooking, keeping television & music volumes reasonable, smoking outside or offsite (depending on Corporation rules), and slowing down in the parking garage.
Management & Staff Meetings: A new year is a good time to start some good new routines for management and staff. Daily or even weekly staff meetings improve communication, and make everything run more smoothly. The Manager can meet with the Superintendent, Cleaning Staff and Concierge/Security staff. This helps everyone know what’s going on, what’s coming up, and if there are concerns that need to be addressed. A positive and inclusive tone makes for a cohesive team. When we work effectively together, we all look good to the Board Members and Residents.
Maintenance Fees: This is a great time for Boards and Managers to review the arrears and make a plan to eliminate or at least reduce the arrears list. This could be accomplished by reaching out to owners and offering payment plans. This could be helpful for owners that are unable to pay the full outstanding amount in one payment. It would be better to receive the outstanding funds in smaller increments than not at all. Make sure the re-payment expectations are clear, defined, and communicated in writing. Another good idea is to have the Condominium Manager call the owners personally to have a friendly/non-confrontational conversation about the arrears. Most people want to be in good standing, so if they have arrears this could be a source of embarrassment. A little humility goes a long way in these situations, and often helps resolve the arrears in the long-run.
Board – Planning Ahead: In January the Board should meet and discuss the year ahead. We all know things can be very changeable, the Covid-19 pandemic solidified this reality for many of us, but it’s still good to have a vision for the year ahead.
Items the Board should review & discuss in January:
- Set a Board Meeting schedule for the year (example: last Wednesday of every month)
- Set a tentative date for the AGM & decide how the meeting will be hosted (in-person vs. online)
- Let the Manager know of any new expectations for the new year – maybe the Board wants a change made to the spring gardens, or want to run food drives at holidays, or perhaps they wish to host a BBQ in the summer. Whatever the Board has in mind for the year, this is a great time to alert your Condominium Manager.
- Review the Reserve Fund Study and discuss any potential major projects coming up. Review the budget, discuss timelines and expectations.
- Review Board roles and expectations. Some Boards are more hands on than others. It’s good to discuss everyone Director’s role again in the new year. This helps everyone knows what tasks they are expected to oversee throughout the year. Examples: one director may be responsible for signing cheques, another director may oversees decorating for holidays, and another director might be the event planner of the team.
- Review and get status updates from any major items outstanding from the previous year(s). This could be legal cases, shared facility items, on-the-go projects, etc.
- Review Corporation policies and amend if needed.
No matter how you start off your New Year, we at GPM Property Management, wish you an excellent and successful year!