A Look at ACMO’s Code of Ethics for Associates
As most people reading this are likely aware, ACMO has three classes of membership: Professional (property managers), Corporate (property management companies), and Associate (other professionals in the condominium industry). ACMO Associate Members include contractors, service providers, suppliers and many others who do business with condominium corporations.
One reason that Associate Members choose to become and remain members of ACMO is that, by doing so, they obtain the benefit of having their names and the availability of their services promoted to ACMO’s other members. While ACMO does not specifically promote particular Associate Members, it does publish and distribute a services directory in which the Associate Members’ names, contact information and services provided are listed. This is an important source of business for Associate Members, and they have the additional benefit of association with a reputable organization like ACMO . It is important, then, that Associate Members conduct themselves in such a manner as to not negatively affect the reputation of ACMO and, by extension, its other members.
In recognition of this principle, ACMO has a separate Code of Ethics for each class of membership, including Associates. The preamble to the Associate Code of Ethics provides that the purpose of the Code is to “promote the continued development of a mutually beneficial relationship between condominium corporations, residents, managers, suppliers and the general public”. Each Associate Member, as a condition of membership, pledges and agrees to abide by the Code. ACMO, for its part, enforces the Code (and its other rules) through a detailed enforcement process that includes investigation of complaints, a hearing before the ACMO Discipline Committee, and a right of appeal following the hearing. ACMO members who are found to be in breach of a code of ethics or other applicable rule can be subject to a variety of discipline, including oral or written reprimand or termination of membership.
As part of its purpose to “promote the continued development of a mutually beneficial relationship” between members of the condominium industry, the Associate Code of Ethics requires that Associate Members act in a way that supports, promotes and enhances “the quality and robustness of the condominium industry in general”. Unfortunately, two people in the condominium industry recently did just the opposite. According to a recent Toronto-area newspaper article, these industry members (one of whom was quoted anonymously) told the reporter who wrote the article that the condominium industry is rife with corruption, including bid rigging, the awarding of contracts to non-arm’s-length entities, and outright theft.
The suggestion that corruption is so widespread is inaccurate, at best. There is no credible, concrete evidence that such corruption is as widespread as both the author of
the article and the industry members quoted in the article suggest. Readers will no doubt be familiar with the widely publicized $20 million fraud case involving Channel Property Management and Manzoor Khan. One reason that cases like the Channel Property fiasco attract so much attention is that they are outliers. Such a suggestion of widespread corruption is also harmful to the condominium industry, because the suggestion that so many members of the condominium industry are corrupt has a negative effect on the reputation of the industry as a whole.
This is not to suggest that corruption does not exist in the condominium industry. It is undoubtedly true that the condominium industry (like any other industry) has seen some bad apples (e.g., the above-mentioned Channel Property). However, blowing matters out of proportion does a disservice to everyone.
What should Associate Members who are aware of corruption do, then? If the party engaging in the corrupt behaviour is a member of ACMO, the matter should be referred to ACMO. Such behaviour would almost certainly be a breach of the Code (which, among other things, requires Associate Members to “Conduct their business with fairness, integrity, and in an honest and forthright manner”). Further, referring the matter to ACMO could have a benefit that would not be available by reason of a simple newspaper article, being discipline of the Associate Member who has engaged in this unacceptable behaviour.
The text of ACMO’s Associate Code of Ethics is as follows:
“Associate Members of ACMO play an important role in enhancing the success and enjoyment of the condominium community lifestyle in Ontario.
This Code and the performance of its provisions by all Associate Members of ACMO will promote the continued development of a mutually beneficial relationship between condominium corporations, residents, managers, suppliers and the general public.
Each Associate (including its directors, officers, representatives and staff) pledges to:
Comply with the principles, declarations, bylaws and regulations of ACMO and be actively involved in its activities;
Support, promote and enhance the objectives and reputation of ACMO and of professional property management specifically, and the quality and robustness of the condominium industry in general;
Seek and maintain an equitable, honourable and cooperative association with fellow members of the condominium industry;
Become educated and stay abreast of the issues and developments pertaining to the condominium industry;
Become leaders in their respective fields and in providing high-quality service to the condominium industry and being responsive to its needs;
Develop, adopt and adhere to best practices and standards in their dealings or business with members of the condominium industry and others and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, to maintain their standings within their respective professions, industries or trades, and to carry all necessary insurance;
Conduct their businesses with fairness, integrity, and in an honest and forthright manner;
Obey the laws of Ontario and Canada.”
Brian Horlick is a partner in the law firm HORLICK LEVITT DI LELLA LLP , an ACMO Associate member.