Condo boards are funny things. At their core, they’re really nothing more than a group of people who’ve found themselves volunteering (or sometimes voluntold!) in order to help keep things on the straight and narrow within the confines of the common piece of property that they’ve all chosen to call “home.” Sometimes, condo boards are composed of folks who all share similar views, come from relatable walks of life, or have some sort of a personal connection with one another that existed prior to their service on the board. More often than not, though, condo boards are made up of a group of people with exceedingly different backgrounds and life experiences who frequently have never met one another before gathering around a table somewhere on the property to talk about budgets, landscaping, and community development. Without any common ground to speak of, where does a new condo board even get started?
Simple: with a condo code of ethics.
Cracking the Code
Before we go any further, it’s worth taking a moment to define what we mean by a “code of ethics.” In this instance, what we’re referring to is less a set of defining values, principles, and morals (which is precisely what people often imagine a code of ethics to be), and more a series of guidelines and rules that relates in a general sense to the conduct and actions of board members as a whole.
In many cases, the establishment of a code of ethics is the first step that a new board will explore upon founding, simply because having those guidelines in place helps to build the groundwork for successful, respectful collaboration. You won’t (or, shouldn’t!) find any guidelines dictating political allegiances or moral imperatives here. Rather, most condo codes of ethics instead trend closer toward provisions that implore members to attend and participate in all meetings to the best of one’s ability, and similar-such imperatives.
The Case for the Code
Okay, you might find yourself wondering, so, what’s the point of a code of ethics, then?
That’s actually a very good question. If it’s not there to actually guide the board through an ethical or moral quandary, what the heck does it do? A code of ethics is meant to provide a way forward for condo board members to conduct themselves in an official capacity – both in meetings, and while out representing themselves as board members to the condo community at large. The code provides a standard set of guidelines and condo board responsibilities around which the condo corporation can build itself, establish a process, and find success for the condo community at large. It might seem like a small thing, but the defining nature of a condo community’s code of ethics is at the heart and soul of a condo board, and enables the corporation to move forward and pursue its mandate in a coherent, uniform manner.
The Contents of the Code
Alright, you might be saying to yourself now, that’s great and all – but what’s actually in a condo code of ethics?
Another solid question. While the driving ethos behind a condo code of ethics is to essentially inform a corporation’s members about how to run a condo board, the various guidelines themselves tend to vary from code to code. That said, there are some standard threads that typically run throughout all the different codes you might find out there, including agreements to:
- Attend all meetings and to participate wholly, to the best ability possible.
- Act in a responsible manner, in accordance with the trust invested in the board by the condo community.
- Disclose any potential conflicts of interest that might arise throughout the course of one’s duties as a condo board member.
- Keep confidential any information deemed to be confidential in nature.
- Conduct oneself in a professional and businesslike matter both during board members and while representing the board and condo community.
- Support the decisions and resolutions of the board, even though there may not be a personal agreement with every decision that is voted through.
- Minimize conflict within the board and throughout the condo community
- Continue to educate and inform oneself on the complex and constantly changing state of condominiums and condo management.
While these represent some typical guidelines you might expect to find within a condo board’s code of ethics, this is hardly an exhaustive list, and definitely does not represent any sort of defining collection of parameters necessary to establish a successful code.
Establishing a code is just the first step, though. The most important piece of the puzzle is getting each and every board member to sign off on a code of ethics once it’s been established as a mandatory condition in order to serve. Even though it might be a voluntary decision to serve on your condo’s board, there’s still a lot of money at stake and a lot of folks counting on the right decisions being made for their home and community, and that isn’t something to be taken lightly. Getting up-front signatures from all board members can make all the difference in ensuring that your condo community is set up to be financially healthy, well-cared for, and successful.
How do you feel your condo’s code stands up after reading through this article today? Take a moment to revisit your board’s code of ethics today while all this information is still fresh in your mind to determine if it still meets the needs of your board and community – and if not, be sure to take steps to update this most important document. We’re here to help – give us a call at Condominium Management
Catalyst Condo Management and learn everything there is to know about constructing your condo’s code of ethics today!