Given the significant growth in condominium ownership in recent years, we have often wondered why a specialized board or tribunal has not been created to deal with disputes between condo boards, managers, and owners.
However, in July, the Government of Ontario proved that it has taken notice of this market explosion as it revealed a number of new changes to condominium law across the province. Below are some of the upcoming changes to condominium law that you should know about:
If you own a condominium or are a board member dealing with a dispute, starting on November 1, 2017, you may be able to have your dispute resolved by a new Condo Authority Tribunal, administered through the Condominium Authority of Ontario (“CAO”).
The Tribunal will resolve issues between condo-owners and boards through mediation, adjudication, and case management. Under the previous system, overburdened courts meant that a lawsuit would take at least a year to be resolved at trial. The creation of the Tribunal will provide a faster, more effective, and less expensive process for resolution of these disputes.
In addition to dispute resolution, the CAO will be responsible for administering educational materials, awareness initiatives, and self-help tools for condo owners.
Condo Manager Licenses
Starting on November 1, 2017, there will be a mandatory licensing system for condominium managers and management firms which will be administered by the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (“CMRAO”). This will include a code of ethics for licensees, and a mandatory licensing system for condominium managers and condominium management providers. You will also be able to direct any complaints about your condo manager or provider to the CMRAO.
For consumers considering the transition to condo living, the province has published a reader-friendly “condo guide” which details the various roles and responsibilities related to condo living.
Developers will be required to give a copy to all buyers of newly built condos at the time of sale. Buyers of condos are entitled to 10-day “cooling off” period to consider their purchase. This will allow buyers to review the new guide during the “cooling off” period to ensure that purchasing a condo is right for them.
The increased emphasis on ensuring that potential condo buyers are informed about their rights and responsibilities prior to purchasing their unit may also ease tensions between condo managers and boards who are faced with owners that feel alienated or misled because they are unfamiliar with the roles of the board or management.
Financial Management and Condo Governance
New amendments to the system regarding financial management and governance by condo boards are intended to give condo owners greater clarity and control over their investment.
The new changes aim to improve communication between unit owners and boards by requiring that regular information is provided on topics like insurance and legal proceedings. They will also require boards to provide more extensive notice to owners regarding owners’ meetings and make it easier for owners to call board meetings on issues that are important to them.
The amendments aim to reduce confusion about when condo boards can carry out modifications to common elements, services or assets of the condo without notice to owners. In addition, they clarify that the condo corporation is responsible for repairs and maintenance of common elements and assets of the condo while unit owners remain responsible for maintenance and repairs to their units.
As more and more individuals and families look to invest in condominium units instead of single-family homes, these changes aim to close current loopholes in condo regulations. The amendments emphasize increasing the flow and quality of information exchanged between owners and boards and update the law to reflect the realities of living in today’s condominium communities.
Written by Brittany Miller