Ontario property managers are raising the alarm about the province's growing condo market, saying there's not enough of them to handle an expected influx of units.
According to data from the province and the industry's separate regulatory body, The Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO), there are currently some 2,500 licensed managers in the province overseeing around 950,000 units across Ontario.
That's a figure some in the industry say is leaving managers spread thin and will only be exacerbated by the glut of managers getting ready to retire. Add to that the growing number of units expected to be ready for occupancy in the coming years, and some worry the the lack of managers will mean issues across the board, be it for residents or building owners.
Research by the real estate consulting firm Urbanation suggesting a record number of 25,000 new condo units will be ready in Ontario this year alone.
Craig McMillan, a member of The Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario's (ACMO) board of directors, says whether it's offsite owners or condominium residents, "they're going to be negatively affected by the lack of resources."
"That's what keeps most condominium management companies up at night. Where do we find the people and how do we make sure that our clients are well served?"
Condo managers are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a condominium corporation and help ensure condos are well-maintained, financially sound and compliant with the law. The association says that without enough of them, condo buildings can fall into a state of disrepair, leaving residents to contend with potential long-term costs over legal, financial and maintenance issues.
McMillan says the shortage presents an opportunity for both managers, boards and government to do better, with a focus on things like positive employee experience, good compensation, and advancement opportunities.
"That's how you attract people to the sector," he said.
Industry needs to innovate, says owners' association
ACMO is calling for the province to help develop a plan to recruit and retain managers but Ontario's condo owners association says the industry has to become more competitive and ensure residents don't lose out.
Ontario's Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery says it will "continue to monitor trends related to condo managers across the province and support the CMRAO in ways to make condo management an attractive career path for new professionals."
The CMRAO, which is in charge of licensing, says it's working with industry partners to attract people to the sector and exploring other ways to attract recruits, such as post-secondary career fairs.
But Linda Pinizzotto, the founder and CEO of the non-profit Ontario Condo Owners' Association, says the apparent labour shortage is something that many industries are grappling with — not just condo managers.
To her, the answer to the problem remains the same — making compensation and employment packages attractive enough to bring people into the industry.
The association says a property manager's average pay depends on the condo community, but typically starts at $70,000 in Ontario. McMillan says that's improved since condo managers became a regulated profession, with wages rising about 20 per cent.
But the issue is complicated by each condo board's budget, which can determine how much dedicate to property management. Boards can choose to raise compensation or reduce the number of hours they work to meet the board's budget constraints, he says.
"There is a challenge there," said McMillan.
All sides need to work together, condo authority says
The Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO), a resource, tribunal and training centre for condo owners and residents, says while condo boards direct managers and the overall stewardship of the building, it's residents who put the board members in those chairs in the first place by electing them.
The organization says its working with boards to make sure they understand how they can attract, retain and compensate managers fairly.
But residents have a "responsibility" when it comes to what's happening in their condo community too, said Aleks Dhefto, spokesperson of the CAO.
Pinizzotto agrees, adding property managers may get the short end of the stick over decisions that are actually made by the condo's board.
"It may be time to take the heat off of the property managers, put a little bit on the board and make sure that the people that are being elected have some degree of knowledge."