Annual general meetings (AGMs) are held by condo corporations on a yearly basis to outline the past fiscal year’s affairs, election of new directors and any upcoming business. The Ontario Condo Act provides guidelines on how to conduct, hold, and serve notice of these meetings.
For most condos, serving notice of the meeting makes up at least half of AGM expenses — this is because notices are traditionally printed and mailed to owners. Notice packages typically include the meeting agenda, financial statements, minutes of previous year’s meetings, director candidate resumes, and details of any proposed bylaws to be voted on. That’s a lot of pages to print — indeed we’ve seen meeting packages that span 100 pages and up. For a large condo, say 500 units or more, at 100 pages per unit, that’s 50,000 pages. A ton of paper!
Why not just send it all by email?
Simple question right?
We’re often asked if our included online package distribution service can be used in place of traditional print and postage. Yes, it can be, but only if the owner consents to being served notice packages by email. As per the Condo Act, meeting packages can be served by “electronic mail or any other method of electronic communication if the owner agrees in writing that the party giving the notice may give the notice in this manner”. If consent is not given, then email alone is not sufficient as a method to service notice, the package must still be printed and sent via mail.
So, if it’s legal to do, then why don’t more condos send their meeting packages through email?
We’ve seen some common patterns:
- Corporations don’t collect and record owners’ email addresses as a normal procedure
- Corporations don’t have express consent from owners to receive notices by email
- Corporations don’t have the tools to send electronic notices
- Corporations don’t consider email addresses as part of owners’ contact information
So how can you get your community on board for electronic communications?
There are a number of approaches to take when you are transitioning owners from serving notice by mail to email. You can start with your property management office by collecting email addresses and having owners provide written consent to being served by email.
TIP #1 — Update your resident information & registration forms and ask for their email addresses.
Include a checkbox that allows owners to opt-in for electronic notice package delivery. You can then maintain a simple spreadsheet of the email addresses and the consent of unit owners.
TIP #2 — Use your condo’s website to have owners provide their consent and email addresses.
If you don’t have a condo website, create a simple Google Form to collect owner information.
Tip #3 — Use email marketing services or customer relationship management software to send notices to your owners.
There are plenty of free software available that can do this including Mailchimp and Hubspot. Or, better yet, use GetQuorum’s included online distribution system to serve notice of meetings to your owners.
Will owners consent?
One of the concerns that we have seen is the worry over having to convince a community to abandon traditional mail service, but we have seen that nearly 95% of GetQuorum users opt-in to receiving notice packages (and all other notices) by email.
Serving notice and distributing meeting packages electronically can be a more efficient way of keeping owners informed, reminding your community about upcoming meetings, and keeping your communication costs low.