Other Questions About Directors

Is Being a Director Much Work?

It depends on the type and size of the condo and on the qualifications of the manager. Generally, directors attend one meeting a month. Preparing for and attending the meeting takes about three hours. That is all that is required of directors who are not officers.

The secretary may need 1-2 hours a month to do the minutes unless the manager is contracted to take them. The treasurer requires a couple of hours a week. The president needs to spend a minimum of 5-6 hours when there is a mature, ethical, and experienced manager who can do the planning as well as the day to day duties--and does not have conflicts of interest that could be costly to the condo.

But, with a less experienced manager, or a less conscientious one, presidents spend 10 to 15 hours a week and more when special projects are being researched and planned. (Click here for Problems of Conflicts of Interest, Accountability, and Qualifications). Again, a president’s hours are purely his or her own choice—nothing is set in stone. However, a canvassing of presidents has revealed that, on average, they spend 9 hours a week on their duties.

Is It an Interesting Position?

Being a board member is certainly interesting but only to the extent that each person on the board makes it so. There is a great deal to learn (about rules, the mechanics of the building, what contractors do, and legal issues) and this makes the work challenging.

It is a volunteer position. Studies have found that volunteering one’s time for a worthwhile cause is actually good for a person’s mental health.

It can, however, become unpleasant and stressful when colleagues on the board stand only for their vested interests or egos, are quarrelsome, aren’t interested in achieving anything, or are uninformed. It can also be darn right unpleasant when there is a lack of leadership and residents are “all over the map” making demands and refusing to act responsibly. 

The downside of being a director on a condo board is that one becomes a volunteer in one’s place of residence rather than in an outside agency. As a result, animosities often arise. Directors’ lives can become unpleasant in condos that have a lot of problems. And directors can also make some residents’ lives very unpleasant, indeed.

Overall, most problems, when they exist, arise because of a lack of proper communication. Boards who communicate effectively, respectfully, persuasively, and regularly with owners generally experience few, if any, problems.

Are Directors Paid?

Not generally because being a director is volunteer work. If a board wants to be remunerated, a by-law has to be enacted and voted at a meeting by a majority of owners of units in the condo. Such a by-law is valid for only three years and has to specify the remuneration level to prevent abuses.

Take-outs, dinners, and social occasions for board members paid by the condo also have to be set in a by-law. For instance, board members in some condos go to restaurants together with their spouses a few times a year... at the condo’s expense. So far, few dare to complain openly and it is surprising that auditors have not caught on more often, perhaps because "petty cash" is used for these occasions.

Much of the rewards one gets as a board member are intrinsic. That is, it’s a form of altruism and one feels psychologically rewarded for doing a good deed and contributing to the community. This does not mean that directors can’t get together with their spouses and enjoy great dinners—provided they pay for them.

Do Directors Have Privileges?

Being a director is a privilege and an honour. However, inasmuch as directors have access to confidential information and have a say in how their condo turns out, then these certainly are privileges that other owners do not have.

In some condos, abuses occur--often by the spouses of presidents or treasurers--and some are detailed in the new section on  Misuse of Funds and Fraud. Others are found in the letters in Readers Respond.

Examples of abuses:

  •  A president uses the boardroom to meet his business associates.
  • A treasurer has a room repainted by the condo’s painter and this goes on the invoice of a painting job that is ongoing.
  • A president uses the condo lawyer to go on a witch hunt against owners who may disagree wth him.
  • A board member uses the guest parking “because it’s easier” when he returns home from work (residents are not allowed to use visitors’ parking).
  • The president's spouse redesigns the lawn in front of their unit--even though it is a common element.
  • A treasurer has the superintendent come to his suite regularly and free of charge to change light bulbs, paint touch ups, wallpaper hanging, etc.
  • Another president's spouse builds an elevated deck in the common element backyard, which intrudes on the privacy of the neighbours.
  • A president has the security personnel tell him about the whereabouts and activities of some residents he particularly dislikes. This goes against privacy laws and is a misuse of the security cameras.