Frequently Asked Questions about Condominium Manager Licensing

Condominium manager licensing is now in effect in Alberta!

If you are a condo board member or involved in the condominium management industry, you are now aware that effective December 1, 2021, any person, or company providing condominium management services, must be licensed with the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA).

This is an exciting advancement in the property management landscape that took shape after consultation on condominium manager licensing that started back in 2015.  The decision to license and develop educational requirements is in recognition of the specialized work condominium managers undertake.   The desired outcome is ultimately for the benefit of and to protect condo owners, consumers, and professional condominium management by ensuring consistent professional standards across the condominium management industry.

Frequently asked questions about condominium manager and condominium brokerage licensing:

Who is RECA and why is this important for condominium corporations?

The Real Estate Council of Alberta or RECA is the independent governing authority that sets, regulates, and enforces standards for residential real estate, commercial real estate, property management, condominium management, and mortgage brokerage licensees under Alberta’s Real Estate Act.1

Essentially its mandate is to: 

  • protect consumers
  • provide services to facilitate the business of licensees
  • protect against, investigate, detect, and suppress fraud as it relates to the business of licensees

“Consumer protection is at the heart of RECA’s mandate and is the main purpose behind this licensing initiative,” explains Don Newell, Chair of RECA’s Residential Property Manager Industry Council. “Though many condominium management companies have operated professionally and successfully in Alberta for years, their clients now have the added protection of a regulated environment.”2

This is important for condominium corporations because it provides consumer protection with the added assurance that licensed professionals enjoy lifelong learning and education, in addition to the experience needed to provide quality service.  Under RECA’s mandate, the goal and desired outcome is that licensed condominium managers and brokerages will be less likely to cause harm to consumers. 

The Residential Property Manager Industry Council sets the rules subject to approval of the Minister of Service Alberta under the governance structure for RECA, for condominium management.  Enforcement of the Real Estate Act, the regulations and rules for the condominium industry will be completed by RECA complaints or issues are brought to its attention.

What is “condominium management”?

The Real Estate Act (reference Section 1(1)(e2) defines condominium management services to be “the exercising of a power or the performing of a duty of a condominium corporation on behalf of the condominium corporation including, but not limited to:

  • collecting, holding, or disbursing, or attempting to collect, hold or disburse, contributions levied by the condominium corporation or other amounts levied by or due to the corporation under the Condominium Property Act,
  • enforcing the bylaws or rules of the corporation,
  • negotiating or binding contracts on behalf of the corporation, and
  • supervising employees or contractors hired or engaged by the corporation but does not include any activity excluded by the Condominium Property Act, this Act, or the regulations under either Act.”3

Why does this matter for condo owners, condo boards and condominium corporations?

The professionalization of an industry is integral to the elements of a professional condominium manager and include the following characteristics:

  • Specialized knowledge
  • Competency
  • Honesty & integrity
  • Accountability
  • Self-regulation

These are examples of desired values that benefit condominium communities and for condo boards as it ultimately increases consumer trust in the real estate industry.

Licensed RECA condominium managers (aka Condominium Manager Associate) have meet the education and experience requirements to provide condominium management services. RECA is charged to regulate individuals and condo management companies and ensure that they follow standards of practice and meet operating and reporting requirements.

What about a code of ethics for condominium managers?

RECA has established a Standards of Practice which is like a code of ethics.  The Standards outline responsibilities, prohibitions, and practices for condominium managers.  Record keeping and financial management of condominium corporations as part of the Standards of Practice.

What is the difference between condo management and property management?

Based on the Real Estate Act and its definitions, condominium management is a separate activity and industry from property management.  The distinction has to do with relationships.

For example, condominium managers enter relationships with condominium boards and perform condominium management activities on behalf of their client boards.  In contrast property managers enter relationships with landlords and renters, negotiating leases, holding rental security deposits, and performing leasing related activities for their landlord or renter clients.

Individuals and companies can practice both condo management and property management – just under separate brokerages.  The same company can operate a condominium brokerage while also providing property management services.  Each brokerage will have its own licensed brokerage and can share ownership.

Timelines and Conditions of Licensing

  • Education: RECA has mandated that a license is conditional on the successful completion of industry specific exams and courses.  Courses are currently in production.  It is anticipated that courses will be open shortly. All condominium managers looking to conduct condominium management services in Alberta are to have their conditional license by December 1st, 2021
  • Certified Criminal Record Check must be completed
  • Condominium managers and brokers will be required to go through the pre-licensing exam challenge / education by November 30, 2022. Applicants will have different exam/education conditions placed on their licence depending on their individual circumstance
  • Apply with required documentation to RECA for review and approval.

Note: There will be three condominium management courses provided by third-party course providers (not by RECA):

  1. Fundamentals of Condominium Management,
  2. Practice of Condominium Management, and the
  3. Condominium Manager Broker Program.

The courses you must take, or challenge the exams for, will depend on your current licence status with RECA, your experience, and whether you oversee a condominium manager firm.

Consumers can perform a quick search to see if your condo manager is licensed using the Find a Licensee tool on RECA’s website.

Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. has been a licensed brokerage for several decades with RECA and excited about this advancement in the real estate industry. We are proud of our legacy of providing responsive and licensed property management services to rental properties, commercial owners, and condominium corporations.  Our system and processes have been developed to bring peace of mind and full-service offerings including customized maintenance services, administrative support, leasing and specialized management services. To learn more about our goal to enhance the quality of live by managing and providing great places to live and work, request a management proposal today!

Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. has provided proven property management solutions to Calgary & Area for close to 50 years.  Its specialized suite of services includes condominium management.  Additionally, the team at Emerald is a licensed brokerage providing professional management services to rental properties, apartment building, commercial and industrial properties, and homeowner associations.   Profit from our experience, contact Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. at www.emeraldmanagement.com or call us at 403-237-8600

 

Footnote:

  1. Legislation & Standards | RECA
  2. December 1, 2021 – Condo manager licences are now required | RECA
  3. Exemptions Announced for Condo Manager Licensing | FIELD LAW

A Conversation about Safer Spaces

November is Family Violence Prevention Month. Those assisting victims in our city have reported that the number of people accessing help from domestic abuse has doubled since the start of the pandemic.

Prevention is the key word when it comes to domestic violence.

There are many things we can do to become aware of family violence and prevent it from continuing to occur.  Join Lauretta Enders, BA, CPM with Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. and Maggie MacKillop with HomeFront Calgary to discuss the Safer Spaces Act and the Safe Spaces Legislation — its impact on landlords and property managers, the opportunities it provides tenants seeking support, and how you can make a difference.

IMPORTANT: If you’re at risk of domestic violence, you don’t have to wait until you receive your certificate before moving out. Call 911 if you’re in immediate danger. Call 310-1818 for information on supports available to you.

“Nobody has to do this alone. Being a property manager or landlord, we don’t have to be the experts… If someone’s coming forward with this disclosure, it is important to believe them and do what we can on our level to help and support, or refer them on to the people who are the experts and can really help a family or individual at such a serious time of crisis.” 

– Lauretta Enders, BA, CPM, Emerald Management & Realty Ltd.

Background to the Safer Spaces Legislation

Residential Tenancies (Safer Spaces for Victims of Domestic Violence) Amendment Act was passed in August 2016. This legislation, Termination of Tenancy (Domestic Violence) Regulation, and amendments to the RTA Ministerial Regulation, were proclaimed. These changes to the RTA allow victims of domestic violence to end a tenancy early and without financial penalty. This legislation applies in cases where: if the tenancy continues: the tenant’s safety is at risk, a dependant child’s safety is at risk; or a a protected adult’s safety is at risk.

How does someone obtain a Safer Spaces Certificate?

Either the victim, or someone acting on their behalf with their consent, must follow these steps to get a certificate.  As outlined on the Government of Alberta’s website:

Step 1: Get a supporting document

To request a certificate, you’ll need to provide one of the following documents:

1. An existing court order, such as:

  • Emergency Protection Order
  • Queen’s Bench Protection Order
  • Peace Bond
  • Restraining Order
  • Other relevant court order

OR

2. A Certified Professional Statement

This is a signed statement from a certified professional declaring the tenant is a victim of domestic violence. To obtain one:

  1. Download and fill out the certified professional statement 
  2. Then, get it signed by a certified professional. See the list of professionals who can sign it for you.

Step 2: Send in your document

Send your contact information and document by:

Step 3: After you send your request

Receiving your certificate

A certificate will be issued to you within 7 days, upon receipt of your request and supporting documentation. A Safer Spaces Advisor will contact you directly to discuss the delivery option that works best for you.

Giving notice

Once you receive the certificate, serve it to your landlord – along with a signed, written notice to vacate – in person or by registered mail.

Notice must be served at least 28 days before you move out, and within 90 days after the date on which the certificate was issued.

The landlord will then terminate your tenancy agreement on the date stated in the notice, without financial penalty.

About HomeFront Calgary

Since the inception of HomeFront in 2000, domestic violence re-offense rates in Calgary have been cut in half and victim engagement in the justice process has more than doubled. Victims are safer, offenders are being held accountable and families are being given their best chance at a future free from domestic violence. 

HomeFront’s mission is to create  safe community by eliminating domestic violence through direct client services, justice coordination and facilitated community action. 

HomeFront’s sign to help recognize the warning signs of domestic abuse

“There are several signs to be mindful of when interacting with residents and rental properties that may indicate abuse is occurring:

  • Repeated late payment of rent 
  • Noticeable injuries or signs of cover-up including sunglasses, makeup, or clothing 
  • Change in tenant’s behaviour 
  • Fewer visitors or going out less 
  • Expressions of fear 
  • Noise complaints or concerns expressed by other tenants 
  • Property damage, such as holes punched in walls

By being aware of this complex social problem and informed of the signs of domestic abuse, landlords and property managers can help provide an educated response to residents experiencing violence and refer to them all necessary avenues of support.

“We have a saying at HomeFront which is ‘never miss an opportunity to support a victim in their time of need because it may be the only time they reach out.’ You could be the difference between living a life of safety and health or continued impact by domestic violence. It takes everybody doing their part. It’s as simple as asking someone if they’re okay and listening. You don’t have to be the expert; there are many resources out there.”

– Maggie MacKillop, HomeFront”

For more information visit:  The Domestic Violence Toolkit for Landlords at: https://homefrontcalgary.com/safer-spaces-act/

 

 

Yes, There’s a Right Way to Increase Your Tenant’s Rent

The pandemic rent freeze is coming to an end in many parts of the country, and you might be thinking about whether or not you want to increase your tenant’s rent. If your tenant is looking to renew their lease, you are in a good position to go ahead and raise their rent. However, keep in mind that we are still in the throes of the pandemic, so it is essential to consider and be empathetic to your tenant’s circumstances. 

 

As a property manager, it is our responsibility to communicate effectively with our tenants and ensure everyone is on the same page. Of course, as a property owner, you have expenses as well. With the proper research and communication, both you and your tenants will be in an advantageous position. 

 

Conducting a rent increase doesn’t have to be a tense and stressful process; there is a right way to increase the rent that will promote respect and professional interactions with the end goal of leaving you and your tenants at ease.

Understand the Law

Each province has its own set of rental laws. In Alberta, the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) applies to people who are renting and those involved in the rental process, including property management. As a landlord or property manager, it is important to familiarize yourself with the laws and tenants’ rights.

 

The RTA provides guidelines on how much a landlord can increase the rent by and the appropriate timeline to do so. There are several stipulations that the landlord can agree upon with their tenants before signing a lease, including a future rent increase. It is also vital that you review this before presenting the tenant with the rental increase notice to make sure the increase complies with applicable laws.

 

Tip: Currently, in Alberta, there is no limit on how much the rent can be increased.  However, the property manager aka landlord can only increase the rent after a year has passed from: (1) the start of the tenancy, or (2) when the last rent increase was made.  

Know the Market Rent

Speak with various property management companies in your surrounding area and gauge the average rent price for the neighborhood. You can look at other apartments for rent in the region and inquire that way as well. You will want to ensure your increase makes sense. If it is too high, you run the risk of losing tenants.

 

Make sure you inform your tenants that your rent increase is in line with others in the market. Open communication is vital. While the occurrences of being asked by a tenant for a rent increase are few and far between, if you explain the reason for the rent increase, it does help if the tenant understands that they are in the know.

 

The Importance of Proper Notice and Timing

 

Giving your tenant proper notice is crucial when conducting a rent increase. Prepare a written statement to inform them and ensure that you include all the details and possible incentives. If you can provide or the market dictates, a small discount for early lease renewal, it might serve you to consider it. 

 

If a tenant has a periodic tenancy (which has no end date), the landlord must give the tenant a signed written notice of a rent increase. The notice is only legally required to state the date of the increase and it must be signed and dated by the landlord or landlord’s agent aka property manager.

For example: 

  • if a tenant has a monthly periodic tenancy (month-to-month lease), the tenant must receive at least 3 tenancy months notice in order to increase the rent.  
  • If a tenant has a weekly periodic tenancy (week-to-week lease), the tenant must receive at least 12 tenancy weeks notice of a rent increase.

For any other length of a periodic tenancy, the property management company and/or the landlord must give at least 90 days written notice. 

Caveat: Fixed Term Leases

In Alberta, a fixed term residential tenancy lease has an end date.  As such, based on the Residential Tenancies Act, the property manager and/or landlord has no requirement to give the tenant written notice of a rent increase ahead of time.  However … in the spirit of positive communication, more communication on this topic … the better!

A good rule of thumb is to provide your tenants with approximately 60 days’ notice.  This gives them time to prepare financially and enough notice to make arrangements if they are unable to meet the new financial requirements. 

Even though there is no notice required, there are still certain rules the landlord and tenant must follow when it comes to fixed term leases.

 

 We Can Help

 

The professionals at Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. know how important it is that you have an open and respectable relationship with your tenants. We hope the tips that we have provided give you the confidence to approach this potentially stressful but necessary task with ease. 

 

As one of the top property management companies in Calgary with close to 50 years in tenant placement and management, you can be assured we can offer you sound advice on the right way to handle a rental increase. To learn more about our residential property management services or discuss the management of your property, give us a call today at 403-237-8600 or contact us through our website.

 


Keep calm and Movember on with Emerald

It is almost November, pumpkin spice season and sweater weather is in FULL swing!  Temperatures are cooling off,  fall clean ups are underway … and most importantly: It’s about to get hairy for Movember!

 

The team at Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. is hyped for moustache season and connect to do good and save lives by raising funds and awareness for mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

For the sixth year in a row, the #EmeraldMos will host team events to help raise awareness and money in support of important health issues.  Mid-October our team’s commitment will be marked by a “sign” to kick up the Mo’ments taking place throughout the month. 

Follow Emerald Management & Realty Ltd.s Facebook page and Instagram page for the announcement of THE “sign” and team updates.  Moreover, this marks the commitment of our Mo Bros and Mo Sistas goal to seize the challenge and make an impact on the face of men’s health.  As they most importantly, do their part to make a difference for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. 

If growing a moustache isn’t your thing, but you want to support the cause – just follow the link and make a donation on our page!

Thank you for your support in making an impact for men’s health!

 


Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. is a leading licensed property management brokerage of rental housing, mixed-use real estate assets and condominium corporations.  Dedication to the community for almost 50 years, the team at Emerald is engaged to foster a vibrant corporate culture that ensures equal opportunity and well-being for all team members in a dynamic and rewarding workplace.  To learn more about Emerald’s commitment to community, visit our Community Involvement page or contact us today!