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Incivility in Condos: Harassment and Violence in the Workplace and Our Community

Updated: 6 days ago

We’ve all noticed a concerning uptick of incivility, harassment, and violence in Ontario's condo community, impacting property managers, staff, directors, and residents alike. Harassment and violence is more pervasive than ever in the workplace and our community, leaving everyone wondering "what's happening?".

A recent open letter from ACMO, CCI-T, and CAI highlights just how dire the situation has become, stating that “it is believed that the condominium industry, and perhaps even society, has turned a very unfortunate and even scary corner, and that this increase in harassment, online-bullying, unchecked character attacks, violence and violent behaviour sadly is here to stay (and may continue to increase)”.

Over the past year, distressing incidents have rattled the industry and those who live and/or work in the condominium sphere. In December 2022, we were collectively shocked by the unfortunate shooting at a luxury condo in Vaughan, which targeted Directors and their families. Later, in July 2023, a Resident Manager was shot while in her office. A married couple working as superintendents at a North York building were stabbed; unfortunately, the husband succumbed to his injuries.

These events have sparked vital discussions about harassment and safety within condos, prompting a push for necessary changes. Directors, Managers, Superintendents, and staff alike are calling for change and increased protections for themselves and their families. It's regrettable that it often takes such incidents to galvanize action, but more than a year after the shocking shooting (and the following events), it's important to reflect: where do we stand today, and are we in a better place?

Stratastic will be tackling this important topic in the upcoming series of posts about harassment and violence  in condos, which was made possible by our valued contributors. Before we dive deeper into a complicated and multifaceted issue, let’s get a better understanding of what “harassment” and “violence” mean, especially in a condo context.

Harassment and Violence in the Workplace and Our Community: What's Happening?

The recent, and drastic, uptick in harassment and violence in the workplace and our community is clear, and Condoland citizens are clearly the uncomfortable conditions - and their dramatic rise. In the latest Annual Report from the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO), views regarding harassment skyrocketed, clearly demonstrating a parallel to the current climate of incivility in condos. From 1,641 views on Guided Steps For Harassment in 2021-2022 to 8,506 views in the year after, the increase is staggering, shocking, and... unsurprising.

Exploring this topic, its impact on us individually and collectively, and the implications on the future of our industry is more important than ever. Let's start at the beginning by beginning with the basics.

What is “Harassment” and “Violence”?

Black text defining harassment on cream background

According to Deborah Howden (Shibley Righton LLP), it’s important to understand that exact definitions vary in legislation; however, “harassment generally means engaging in a course of vexatious comment of conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. Violence is the actual, attempted or threatened exercise of physical force”.

Black text defining violence on cream background

As a partner at the leading condo law firm in Ontario, Howden has dealt with plenty of corporations and situations. When asked about her experience regarding harassment and violence in condos,

Howden’s response was surprising, but not shocking. “I wish my experiences dealing with harassment and violence were few and far between. Sadly, these incidents are becoming both more frequent and more serious in nature. Property managers are often the ones on the receiving end of the abusive conduct . . . Violence is less common but unfortunately it continues to occur, and in my view is getting worse.  Most typically, when I am dealing with violence,  it is in the form of threats of physical harm or threats to destroy property.  In these scenarios, I always recommend that the local police service be immediately contacted.”

How Does Harassment and Violence Affect Condo Workplaces and the Community?

Condoland has a range of key players: property managers, directors, residents, staff (such as superintendents), vendors, and more. Each one is affected by harassment and violence in different ways, whether professionally and/or personally.

For example, Property managers already have a lot of operational tasks and responsibilities to deal with on a daily basis; most are overworked and underpaid. Furthermore, we’re dealing with several bleak statistics, according to the seminars at this year’s The Condo Conference. Firstly, we have a staffing crisis of managers (1 manager per 3 condos in Ontario), have 25% of our existing managers nearing retirement, and just under 3% of people under 29 years of age coming into the property management sector. 

This bleak reality already makes many people question who will continue handling existing condos, let alone the ones with cranes still high in the sky (and further developments still on the horizon). Mostly, we’re worried about who will want to take on this role if the industry continues to be tainted by incivility, harassment, and violent behaviours, as per recent events.

Frustrated property manager between tall stacks of paperwork with satirical job ad text

Imagine an environment where property managers are an incredibly scarce resource due to intolerable work conditions, where Directors fear volunteering for the safety of their families, and where staff have to worry about the possibility of losing their life.

Who will be left to service our condos, protect what is often our biggest asset and investment, and, most importantly, keep everyone (including all residents) safe and secure?

This isn’t a world we want to consider as a possibility, but we're certainly well on the path towards it - and we absolutely must correct that terrible trajectory.

With the support of our collective condo community, we endeavor to make a productive difference by shedding light on this issue, and how we can all come together - not only to call for change, but also be the change.

Harassment and Violence: The Industry Impact of Incivility in Condos

Our next article in this series will discuss the state of the industry, and the ongoing troubling trends. We’ll dive deeper into the impact that this issue has on our industry and its key players, and start hearing from our valued contributors about their boots-on-the-ground experience, professional perspectives, and unique solutions.

Sneak peek: Stratastic will also soon reveal our initiative to helping our collecting condo community stay safe and secure in condos, whether as workers, volunteers, or residents

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the following collaborators for sharing their expertise and perspectives: Deborah Howden (Condo Lawyer and Partner at Shibley Righton LLP), Nicholas Chirametli (President at City Sites Property Management), Angel-Marie Reiner (President of Onyx Condo Management), Val Khomenko (Regional Property Manager with TSE Property Services), John Recker (Property Manager at Meritus Group Condominium Management), S.G. (Property Manager), and Mike F. (former condo Director).

Let’s do better, together.

-Stratastic Inc.

P.S. This is an important topic, and the more you know, the better you can protect yourself, as well as your staff, neighbours, and condo community. Register now to get this series delivered to you first, as well as other educational insights from Stratastic.

2 Kommentare

Safeer Haider
Safeer Haider
12. März

Thanks to the author for shedding light on the alarming rise of incivility, harassment, and violence within Ontario's condo community. The article skillfully navigates through recent distressing incidents, emphasizing the urgent need for change and increased protections for all stakeholders. The comprehensive exploration of harassment and violence definitions, coupled with insights from industry experts like Deborah Howden, adds depth to the narrative. The author's commitment to addressing these critical issues and fostering a collective effort toward a safer condo community is commendable. Thanks for this insightful piece.

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Antwort an

Thank you for your thoughtful comment and kind words, Safeer! We're thankful for the many experts that have contributed to this important topic, such as Deborah Howden from Shibley Righton LLP! This is only the first part of a 6-part series, so we invite you to keep an eye out the rest and we look forward to your feedback!

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