by Bob Aaron
Choosing the right professional association can provide a wealth of benefits in managing your multiple dwelling. Those apartment building realty professionals who identify their needs/growth objectives will aid themselves in finding a 'best fit' amongst industry options, namely the Multiple Dwelling Standards Association (MDSA) and the Fair Rental Policy Organization of Ontario (FRPO).
The Multiple Dwelling Standards Association focuses on the needs of small scale independent property owners and investors. Formed in 1970, MDSA's 600 members manage and/or own a combined 62,000 apartment building units. "The association has come to know many members on a one-to-one basis, so there is a real sense of connection to each other," says MDSA President, Bob Aaron.
Starting at a minimum of $100, annual membership fees are $3 per unit, to a maximum of $500. Member benefits include a monthly newsletter of up-to-date information on natural gas, hydro, oil, market conditions, laws, and regulations concerning rental housing. Members can call the office for advice or instruction on landlord/management issues, or be referred by MDSA to paralegal services amongst associate members.
Across Greater Toronto, MDSA periodically holds educational seminars on landlord-tenant relations and government legislation at the provincial and municipal levels. The association's lobbying efforts are made in response to anticipated changes in legislation, generally providing counter positions or damage control to its impact.
Members currently enjoy savings through MDSA's bulk purchasing plans for natural gas and oil. Through associate members, discounted rates on appliance purchasing, insurance, mortgage financing, and trade services may also be available.
Working with a broader scope, the Fair Rental Policy Organization of Ontario focuses on representing and protecting the interests of private sector rental housing providers through the promotion of fair rental housing policies within the province.
"Many individual members tend to join for [FRPO's] membership purchasing power and networking opportunities, while corporate-size organizations join for the political lobbying," says FRPO President, Vince Brescia.
Founded in 1985, FRPO's 800 members manage a combined 250,000 apartment building units. Approximately 90 per cent of the membership are apartment building owners or property managers. From a base fee of $150, annual membership is calculated on a sliding scale of $4 per unit for the first 1,000 units, $3 for the following 4,000, and $1 for each unit thereafter. First-year applicants receive an introductory rate upon joining.
FRPO provides members with topical legal and technical information for regulatory changes affecting multiple dwelling realty. Regular educational seminars are conducted throughout Ontario with recognized industry experts on issues as fire code retrofit, landlord/tenant relations, and human rights issues. FRPO's monthly newsletter outlines strategic advice to assist landlords in how to respond to industry developments. Fax broadcast bulletins provide breaking industry news.
Members can contact the association for advice on management issues, or consult the FRPO's paralegal, available free of charge, for specific legal questions.
Lobbying efforts focus on provincial and federal levels of government. The organization will provide municipal representation on certain issues, at the request of local member associations. Recent lobbying efforts included the fair application of the GST on new rental multiple dwellings in the 2000 federal budget, resulting in a 2.5 per cent tax rebate. Currently, it is developing a position before the CRTC for ownership of inside wiring within multiple dwellings for the purposes of cable television.
Needs of the smaller apartment building owners (defined by FRPO as 50 apartment units or less) are focused on discounts. Like MDSA, its natural gas purchase plan provides substantial savings. Brescia says bulk purchasing programs for cable television and electricity will soon be announced. Other member rates include property and liability insurance, employee benefit plans, car rental rates, and office supplies.