CMRAO: The first five years (and beyond)
The following article was originally published in Remi Network.
It’s been five years since the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO) debuted in Ontario’s multi-residential scene. In the short time since, the organization has reached significant milestones along its mission to “enhance consumer protection through modern and effective regulation of the condominium management sector.”
For CMRAO Chair Aubrey LeBlanc and his team, one of the most significant milestones to date was simply getting started on a solid foundation.
“Before we opened our doors, we spent a long period of time building the organization in principal so we could head straight towards our vision of being a modern regulator right from the launch pad,” he reflects.
“That pre-planning phase was vital,” he continues, “Our aim from the get-go was not to arrive as a cop for practitioners, but instead to use natural tools to ensure compliance within the licensed community and, by doing so, provide better performance in the consumer marketplace by the regulated individuals and companies. I think we succeeded at that.”
The CMRAO has enjoyed consistent growth since it began operations. At last count, the organization surpassed its forecasted number of licensed individuals and companies, and feedback from several surveys has revealed a positive reception across its stakeholder groups.
Maintaining stakeholder support has required the CMRAO to closely monitor the industry and adapt its approach accordingly. For example, the organization lowered its fees based on market feedback and explored internal improvements based on input from the provincial auditor.
“It’s been a balancing act,” says LeBlanc, “but that comes with the territory: DAAs (delegated administrative authorities) have to walk a very fine line when navigating public-private duality, and that’s something we consider every day.”
“As a best practice for modern regulators,” he continues, “the CMRAO focused its first five years on finding ways to work with the individuals or companies that were underperforming to make the industry better: We didn’t want to come in as a hard-nosed enforcement organization because that can bring a lot of unintended consequences and scare people away from the profession.”
Now that the industry has had five years to understand the work the CMRAO is here to do, the organization is moving into a phase of stronger reinforcement. The intent is to bring licensed managers and companies in line with standards and practices that will ensure better protection for condominium consumers. Here again, adds LeBlanc, “As a modern regulator, our philosophy is to use everything in our toolkit to address issues appropriately and in a balanced fashion. I believe we’ve been successful at doing that so far.”
Raising the bar
Assuming responsibility for industry education is no small undertaking. To serve this role effectively, the CMRAO has drawn on the training and upskilling strategies employed by the industry associations that came before it.
“We’ve taken responsibility for specifying the educational requirements, and we’ve done so with a full eye to the past because a lot of that material and scope was great,” says LeBlanc.
“We’ve built on the great training foundation that was there to make it more modern, comprehensive, and understandable to industry professionals and the people they work with,” LeBlanc explains.
The CMRAO has also partnered with Humber College to deliver its education program in a further bid to enhance accessibility and attract more professionals to the field.
Building the name
Industry visibility is key to the CMRAO’s efficacy as a regulatory body. To that end, the team continues to wield public awareness campaigns, a strong social media presence, and outreach initiatives to reach industry professionals and consumers alike.
“For the first few years, we were working on being visible to all the stakeholders and finding out who the practitioners were,” recalls LeBlanc. “At the same time, we were building public awareness around consumer protections and letting consumers know that we are here to take complaints and address their issues.”
Five years later, the CMRAO is at a point where it feels confident that its presence is felt in the industry as its visibility is at a level where licensees and consumers alike are the ones reaching out to the organization first.
That’s not to say the team is dialing back on its outreach. Moving forward, the CMRAO plans to continue building out its presence through its established channels and relationships.
“Part of being a modern entity is taking advantage of modern communications,” adds LeBlanc. “We’re fortunate to have a young and diverse staff who get that and know how to get our name out.”
Seismic changes are coming to the multi-residential sector, but the CMRAO is prepared to respond. And with everything from economic disruptions, labour shortages, demographic shifts, affordable housing demands, and public policy shifts in its path, the regulator is bracing for busier years ahead.
“There’s a perfect storm brewing in the world of residential real estate, and it’s going to be stressful and emotional for everyone,” he adds. “Our job, as always, will be to stay on top of what’s going on in the industry and calibrate our strategy to new realities.”
Learn more about the CMRAO’s achievements over the last five years or contact the CMRAO for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-866-888-5426