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An (un)Limited Property Management License: How a Newly Licensed Property Manager Contributes to Condo Communities

Updated: Apr 12

Did you know that property management roles and responsibilities fall under a regulated designation in Ontario? Those seeking to become condo managers must get their property management designation certified through the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO) by obtaining a Limited License, and then earning a General License after meeting the required criteria. It is extremely important to understand that no one may provide property management services in Ontario condominiums without being a (limited or general) licensed property manager.


Condo managers are a key component in Ontario's condominium industry, where skylines are growing not only wider, but also taller by the year. Unfortunately, not many people know about this exciting career path, which creates a severe shortage of condo managers across Ontario. Furthermore, many condo boards are looking for experienced condo managers, which often translates to those holding a General License.


But are directors and residents across the province missing out by dismissing the value that a newly licensed property manager contributes to condo communities?


Is Hiring a Limited Licensed Property Manager Really That... Limiting?


"Everyone wants experience, but is experience really everything?" -Edward Chin, Ontario Licensed Property Manager (OLCM-GL).

Edward's question is timely and appropriate, especially considering the staffing crisis in Ontario which makes placing a licensed property manager in condo corporations more difficult by the day. Having worked with many, many limited licensed property managers during our time, we argue that there's a huge benefit to condo communities that shouldn't be overlooked.


In fact, giving a limited licensed property manager the chance to get their foot through Condoland's door can be one of the most beneficial decisions boards make, especially if your condo is small- to medium-sized and in need of a little more personal care.


But before we dive deeper, and hear from our guest writer Edward Chin about his experience as a limited licensed property manager (or a "Ontario Licensed Condo Manager - Limited License, or OLCM-LL), let's dip our toes into some quick information on this certified property management designation a bit further.



A Recent History of the Property Management License


During the last decade, there have been several legislative changes to Ontario’s condominium sector, which changed what it means regarding having an official and certified property manager designation.


The first step included mandating that condo managers must be licensed. First, licensing meant earning a “RCM” (Registered Condominium Manager) accreditation from ACMO (Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario). A few years later, changes have transferred that responsibility to CMRAO (Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario), which separates licensing into two categories: a limited license, and a general license.




The Impact of Licensing Requirement on the Board's Perception of Property Management


But what does this relatively new licensing system actually mean for communities across Condoland? Well, the knee-jerk reaction of many boards is to discount the limited license, and ultimately disregard new managers and therefore limited licensed property managers. This is a big problem in an industry already facing a huge challenge: the demand to staff licensed property managers across the many (many!) condominium corporations in Ontario.


Don't forget that hiring a great property manager is just one way to contribute to your community. Check out all the tools for Board Members serving their condo communities >


Licensed Property Managers: Staffing Shortages Across Condominiums


Let’s look at manager availability. According to the CMRAO’s figures (as of March 22, 2022), “there are 3,899 licensed condominium managers in Ontario”. According to ACMO (2022), there were 12,418 registered condominium corporations in Ontario… a number that has surely grown since. However, even these numbers are worrying as they show a bleak best-base scenario: we have about 1 manager for every 3 condos. We won’t even dive into how disproportionate the number of new managers entering the condo scene is compared to the cranes in the sky showing corporations are going up, up, up.



The Impact of the Property Manager Shortage on Condo Corporation Budgets


So what does this mean for condo corporations? Well, for the large ones with equally large budgets, it may not be as painful of a reality as they’re the ones that are likely to keep affording managers. However, for the smaller corporations, especially those that need a part-time (or “portfolio”) manager, it may be time to reevaluate some expectations. Furthermore, we strongly suggest that it’s more than time to stop discounting the limited license managers that are eager to dive into the industry, and, ultimately, demonstrate their best in their new condo community.


An Exemplary Candidate: The Positive Impact of a Limited Licensed Property Manager on Corporations, Community, and the Condo Industry


To share just how valuable a limited license manager may be to your community, we’ve invited Edward Chin to share his personal experience about what it really means to hold a limited license as a property manager and how this may impact condominiums.


With over 10 years of condo-related experience in the concierge sector, his transferable skills were quickly picked up on by his board of directors, and he excitedly took on the challenge of a career switch into condo property management. This shows the value of always keeping an eye out for talent in areas where transferable skills can be extended and built on - so managers and directors should always be checking for people who would be a good fit as property managers (especially with the shortage we’re experiencing, which is bound to get worse before it gets better!). Now, with 5 years of condo management experience, as well as one prestigious “Genesis Award” (ACMO, 2020), it’s no surprise that Edward is our third Community+ guest blogger.


Thank you, Edward, for participating in our Q&A about limited licensed property managers in Ontario’s condominium industry!



 

An (un)Limited Property Management License: How a Newly Licensed Property Manager Contributes to Condo Communities


A Community+ Guest Post with Edward Chin, Licensed Property Manager (Ontario)


Hi there, I’m Edward!


My journey began in 2018 after 10 years of jumping from company to company hoping to find the right community. I was lucky enough to come across a board president at a condominium in North York that saw potential in me. I was invited to have coffee at Tim Hortons and I was asked a few probing questions that made me think about life and eventually convinced me to make the career change. I've always worked well under pressure, and have never been afraid of a challenge. As luck would have it, these skills I learned and developed as a guard were transferable as the majority of the work involved listening, documenting, being patient, and last but not least covering your ass-et.


Starting My Journey as a Limited Licensed Property Manager: Motivated to the Max!


My first day on the job was a bit overwhelming as it was a hit-the-ground-running type of situation. I started out as a condominium administrator and I did not know what to expect or what was expected of me; my only motivation was that I gave my word that I would not disappoint as long as the building gave me room to grow. Maybe I am the last of a dying breed, but I believe a person’s word should have value.


Property Management: Learning as you Go


The rest of my journey through property management was learning as you go, which started with sending out notices and collecting arrears. I won’t say the amount but it was very high.


It wasn't long under I also learned that there's a lot more to the roles and responsibilities of property management in condos... much more.

"In my opinion... the greatest difference between a limited vs. general license are the responsibilities." - Edward Chin, Licensed Property Manager (OLCM-GL).

Property Management Roles and Responsibilities


Financials + Audits in Condominiums

The company I worked for had monthly manager’s meetings, and I was called “the collector” due to the efforts that went into collecting the arrears, by the end the arrears went from thousands over 90 days to just hundreds that were accounted for. The next stage of progression was dealing with an auditor who decided to do something comparable to a forensic audit, luckily the site was organized and every dollar was accounted for. Unfortunately, this created a high-stress environment that lasted approximately 5-6 months until it was over.



Working with the Board, Staff, and Condo Vendors

I was very fortunate that I had the privilege of working with a great board, staff members, and contractors that were very knowledgeable. I was able to piggyback off their wisdom until I was comfortable to provide my own. At the time my property manager was away for almost a year, so I was assisting the new relief managers that came and left until I was promoted to the role of assistant property manager.


Repairs + Remediations in the Corporation's Amenities

At the time, we also had the rehabilitation of the condominium’s party room project underway. This amenity flooded numerous times, so a more thorough investigation/solution was necessary. After signing my new contract for the position, a day before my official start date, I experienced my first balcony fire (grr – stop flicking cigarette butts). Normally, this would’ve been a “do I really want to enter this field?” type of moment, but instead, I soldiered on. I assisted the fire department, assisted with crowd control, gave necessary direction, and called the necessary remediation crew, provided updates to the community. After hours of multi-tasking, it was finally over.



Promoted to Property Manager, Fully licensed, and the ACMO Genesis Award Winner (2020)


At the 2020 ACMO, I was awarded the Genesis Award which is presented to a condominium manager who is new in the profession and has displayed exceptional service (only one is given out per year).


I was eventually promoted to a property manager and completed the required courses to become a fully licensed property manager (otherwise known as a general licensee manager, or an OLCM-GL). To date I’ve done portfolio managing, historical buildings, luxury buildings, townhouses (inc. stacked), low, medium and highrise condos, dealing with more fires, floods, leaks, and the list goes on.


One thing I can say is, I have no regrets. You become a jack of all trades, yet a master of none. This means you have to become well versed in legal, engineering, mechanical, plumbing, reading drawings, providing opinions, troubleshooting, and managing multiple projects in the same breath. Again, no regrets, best decision ever.



Considering Becoming a Limited Licensed Property Manager? Here's What You Should Know.


Your Role and Responsibilities in Condominium Operations


As a limited licensee, someone is always overseeing your work, so you are not alone. There is always a check stop, to get verification or approval, and you don’t have to sign anything. As a general licensee, you are responsible for everything. Supervision is as needed depending on the company, but at the end of the day, your name is on everything, so you are the first point of contact before a situation has escalated. The community that you are providing service from expects excellence, and you are held accountable for everything.


Unfortunately, working for a smaller company, support at times was always lacking, but everyone needs a starting point, so you pretty much get what you get and just have to deal with it. The upside to this was that this aligned with my learning style, as I was allowed enough room to assess each situation and draft a solution of how I was approaching a situation. The other perspective to this, I was lucky enough to have a company take a chance on me since I was starting from scratch, as it normally requires a lot of hands-on approach until the limited manager feels comfortable.




Supervision + Support


When I was a limited licensee, I felt in some cases I was alone with limited support. It felt like you had to fend for yourself or when you ask for help the response time would be so long that by the time the response comes, you’ve already resolved it via an alternative route. Also, another issue that I experienced as a limited licensee was the attitude that you are disturbing your supervisor. In one instance I was told to figure it out. In another, I was told I am bothering them when it was a legit question that required supervisors’ approval. There was no guiding hand or tutorials to assist or to motivate the limited license to want to become a general licensee. When I went to another company, the difference in support was very different as you can see how the company invests in their employees.



How A Limited Licensed Property Manager Impacts Condo Communities


A manager with a limited license has a great impact on a condominium. If the condominium is willing to be patient with the new manager providing that the company’s support system has been noted to be tried and true. A limited manager is generally not looking to jump ship, but instead is being trained to the community’s needs, so the corporation is at least likely to have a long-term manager providing that the manager is adequately compensated as they become more experienced.



What Does It Mean to Hold a General License as a Property Manager? Let's Compare.


Property Management Roles and Responsibilities: Condo Operations as a General Licensee


On the general license side, you now understand your role in its entirety and recognize the consequences. With regard to how this affected me, I found this creates a false sense of normalcy that this is how all property management companies operate, so when you do end up at another company, the difference becomes very clear. Therefore, I feel investing in limited licensees is worth it. If it's done right, it builds loyalty to the company knowing that proper support is in place and they’re appropriately compensated.



Supervision + Support


Now that I have my general license, it all boils down to time management. I believe this should be a course all managers take on all levels as we are managing multiple items at one time, and when you don’t know how to manage your time properly, a lot gets missed. In a case where supervision is involved, where a supervisor is overseeing 10+ people, how much time is being allocated to one on a weekly basis?


Unfortunately, this is where I struggled when I first started as a new manager, and eventually decided to invest in myself to complete the courses and learn from the trade professionals in hopes to become a better manager.



Knowledge as a Fully Licensed Property Manager


The situation with a general license is that the manager has a lot of options and tends to go where the money is. While the assumption or misconception in the industry feels that someone with a general license and experience knows everything and has dealt with everything, doesn’t appear to be correct, as I’ve met a few GLs that did not have basic industry knowledge, or knew how to prioritize high-level issues versus low.



So Why Should a Board of Directors Consider Choosing a Licensed Property Manager with a Limited License?


Many directors feel that they’ll get lucky and get the perfect manager, but I believe that in order to have a better sustainable plan for the long term, there is a higher possibility that the limited licensee may stay for the learning experience. I’ve noted that a lot of property managers start from security, to administrator, to assistant PM, to PM, so the overall value is that the community already knows and trusts this person as opposed to a brand-new general license manager with past habits that may or may not be complementary to the community.


In some cases, it may have adverse effects on the community, as the learning curve to the site may not be as easy to overcome. For part-time portfolio corporations, I would recommend for boards to request a sign-in log by the supervisor or request for the company to advise how or what kind of support was provided. This would show the timings per week and a summary of what that support entails.


Ultimately, I wish more boards would understand that a limited licensee is typically a person that’s hungry for knowledge, motivated, and willing to learn. A bit of patience goes a long way, as long as there is proper support and a proper compensation plan or path for the manager to work towards. We were all new at one point and someone had to have invested time in us to make us who we are today. While saying this, I hope it's taken as a blanket statement, as not every limited license or general licensee will be as mentioned.


-Edward Chin, General License Property Manager.

+ Genesis Award Winner.


"Just like how a board president took notice of my work ethics and saw that I could be more than just a security guard, I believe it does require a moment to see beyond the uniform." -Edward Chin, Licensed Property Manager (OLCM-GL).

 

Edward's a prime example of the importance of looking out for top talent, not just by considering limited licensed property managers for your condominium corporation and community, but also for the value of keeping an eye out for top talent that may already be working within it. Looking beyond the uniform also means looking beyond the license. While there are ways that having a limited or a general license will impact the manager, board, and community, it shouldn't deter anyone from considering a limited licensed property manager, especially in smaller communities that require part-time property management.


Who knows, you just may find a gem like Edward - a diligent, competent, and hard-working manager who is steps away from not only being appreciated by your condo community, but applauded by the whole industry. What better reason to not discount the limited license?

-Stratastic Inc.


P.S. Stratastic is here to build communities by interconnecting key players. We'd love to have you join us - register now!



Updated on April 12, 2024


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