Certifications for condo board members

Date Published : Dec-13-2022

Written By : Kim Brown

Board members who serve condo communities don’t get enough credit. These volunteers are expected to manage finances, understand legal issues and procedures, become very familiar with governing documents, maintain relationships with vendors, enforce rules, and help resolve conflicts.

  

While some members come with applicable skills that they’ve acquired from their day jobs, others have never had to create large budgets or maintain communications with hundreds of people.

If you’ve never served on a board before, it can be quite a learning experience. Fortunately, there are educational resources that condo board members can access to help set them up for success.

  

Most boards do not need any certifications

In most cases, board members do not have to enroll in courses or get certified to serve their communities. Adding requirements like these may discourage people from running for a seat on the board – and some condos have trouble recruiting volunteers as it is. 

That being said, there are at least two places, one in Canada and one in the U.S., where board members do need certification.

  

Ontario

The Ontario Condo Act mandates that all condominium directors undergo training. This training must be completed within 6 months of the date from which directors are elected or appointed.

The courses can be found on the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) website. Users must create an account to access the materials.  

  

What do board members learn?

The training is an online program consisting of 21 modules. Members can complete a few at a time, or try to get them all done in one weekend. Each module takes between 10 to 20 minutes to get through, and the entire course takes about 3 to 6 hours.

The training includes modules on:

  • The role of directors
  • Effective leadership
  • Meetings
  • Corporate records
  • Reserve funds
  • Audits
  • Insurance
  • Maintenance

  

How much does it cost?

Since it is mandatory, it is free for board members to get certified.

  

Do board members need to complete training every year?

No, but the certification is only valid for 7 years. So, if someone served a term for 3 years, and then returned to the board 6 years later, they would have to complete the program again.  

  

Additional information

There is no exam at the end of the course, but there are quizzes throughout the modules to help people remember the most important points.

Once the course is complete, the CAO will email the board member a completion certificate. A director must forward their certificate of completion to their corporation within 15 days of having received their certificate. The CAO will also keep a record of all members who complete the course. Corporations are advised to keep records as well.

  

Consequences for failing to complete the course

A director who does not complete the required training within 6 months will not be allowed to continue on as a director. The corporation is required to advise the CAO and the owners of the change to the board within 30 days.

  

Florida

New board members in Florida have 90 days to complete an education curriculum approved by the state. There are in-person and online options available. Visit the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to see a list of approved providers.

  

What do board members learn?

Board members receive essential knowledge and information about:

  • Community governance
  • Florida statutes as they relate to governed communities
  • Financial statements
  • Procedural etiquette and protocols for meetings and voting
  • Fiduciary duties of board members

It takes roughly 4 to 6 hours to get through the material. Once the self-study or in-person course is completed, members need to pass a final exam with a score of 75% in order to obtain certification.

A certificate of completion is delivered to the successful board member. Certificates should be submitted to the board so they can have a record of it.

  

How much does it cost?

The price varies, but expect to pay between $50 and $60. Organizations may offer deals if there are multiple members paying to get certified at the same time.  

  

Do board members need to complete training every year?

Once a board member is certified, they do not need to take the course again as long as they are on the board. If that person leaves after their term has ended, but decides to run a few years later and is re-elected, then they would be required to take the course again.

  

Additional information

There is an alternative to taking the education course. Board members have the option of submitting a letter to the secretary of the board stating that they have read all community governing documents, agree to uphold them, and honor the fiduciary responsibility to all association members. However, since the information that board members learn by taking the course is so valuable, they are encouraged to complete the certification instead.

  

Consequences for failing to complete the course

If a new board member does not complete the course and does not submit a letter, associations may suspend the director until they provide proof of their certification.

  

Optional training

Just because a board member doesn’t need to be certified doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get additional training. There are many free and low-cost educational resources out there to help new board members gain a deeper understanding of condo finances, relations and laws. Below are 3 resources worth considering.

  

CAI Board Leader Certificate

The CAI Board Leader Certificate Course, also known as the Board Leader Development Workshop, is offered in 2 formats. Board members can participate in classroom instruction through CAI chapters, or enroll in an online, self-study course

  

What do board members learn?

This course consists of five modules:

  • Governing documents and roles & responsibilities
  • Communications, meetings and volunteerism
  • Fundamentals of financial management
  • Professional advisors and service providers
  • Association rules and conflict resolution

The modules should take roughly 5 hours to complete. After that, members must acknowledge that they have read and understand 3 key documents:

  • Model code of ethics for community association board members
  • Community association governance guidelines
  • Rights and responsibilities for better communities

These documents are included in the program. After everything has been completed, participants receive an online certificate of completion and an opportunity to be listed on the CAI website with their name, city and state.

  

How much does it cost?

This course is $199 (USD) but CAI members only pay $99.

  

Do board members need to complete training every year?

Since this is not mandatory, there is no need for board members to take it again. 

  

Boardline Academy

Boardline academy helps board members navigate their leadership journey with confidence. This website offers courses that address daily challenges experienced by condo boards and management. At the end of each mastery level, participants take a final exam to become “BA certified.”

  

What do board members learn?

Boards get critical information about:

  • How to navigate legal issues
  • Improving the community
  • Managing finances
  • How to address staffing issues
  • How to minimize workloads
  • Improving communications
  • Negotiating prices with vendors

  

How much does it cost?

This resource costs about $350 per year.

  

Do board members need to complete training every year?

Since this is not mandatory, there is no need for board members to take it again. 

  

Local councils and organizations

Don’t forget about the local organizations dedicated to helping condo communities. For example, the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums offers workshops, hosts events and provides dozens of online education resources.   

The Educational Community for Homeowners (Echo), is another excellent example. It serves communities in California. Members receive guidance through live webinars, virtual seminars and workshops.

Fees vary, but they are generally reasonable. Board members might pay $100 annually, and entire communities may gain access to the resources for $1,000 per year.

  

Conclusion   

Most condo board members do not need formal certification, but they should take courses, or at least pay for educational resources to help them become more effective leaders. There is always something new to learn, so even if you’ve served on your board for a few years, it’s worth devoting a bit of time to acquire more knowledge.  

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