Condo Act Changes: A Primer for Real Estate Agents & Lawyers

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Those working in the condo industry often complain that real estate agents and lawyers do not adequately advise their clients before they purchase units in condominiums. With the substantial changes recently made to the Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Act”), and more to come in the following months, it is sure to be a complaint we continue to hear for the foreseeable future. Today, I thought that I would provide a few tips for real estate agents and lawyers acting for those looking to purchase a unit in a condominium.  Continue reading

Common Errors with the Amendments: Part 2

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While we all get a handle on the new forms and requirements (and wait for further amendments still to come), I thought I’d do an update on a post I did a few months ago about common mistakes or misconceptions. Here are some of the most common issues we’ve encountered so far:

Myth: The preliminary notice of meeting is only required for annual general meetings.

Truth: The preliminary notice of meeting is required for ALL owners meetings, including annual general meetings, requisition meetings, and special general meetings. The only time it is not required is where the meeting is called solely to fill vacancies on the board where a quorum has been lost.  For more information, see section 12.2(5) of O.Reg. 48/01.

Myth: There is one form for disclosure by candidates and directors.

Truth: There is no prescribed form for disclosures by candidates or directors. That said, many law firms and management companies have created disclosure forms. Be careful when using these forms. The disclosure obligations for candidates and directors are NOT the same so different forms should be used for candidates prior to election and directors after their election or appointment.

Myth: Nothing bad will happen if we don’t file our returns with the CAO or pay our $1/unit/month assessments.

Truth: There are a number of possible consequences for failing to file the returns or pay the assessments:

  • The CAO can levy late fees for not filing returns on time (see section 9.6 of the Act).
  • The Registrar of the CAO can also order a person to comply with the return and assessment requirements (see section 134.1 of the Act).
  • A corporation that has not paid its fees is incapable of maintaining a proceeding before the Tribunal or a court, except with leave of the court (see section 23.1 of the Act).
  • A person who fails to complete returns or pay assessments may be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of $25,000 for individuals and up to $50,000 for corporations!

Stay tuned for more common misconceptions and myths.

CAO return overdue? File it ASAP!

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Most condo returns were due to be filed by March 31, 2018. Has your condo filed yet? What about any notices of change that you may have been required to file, for instance after a change in directors or managers? Have you confirmed with the person responsible for filing the return that he or she has filed it on behalf of the corporation? A quick reminder never hurt. Continue reading

Posted in CAO

Soliciting Proxies: What’s Changed?

proxyI’ve had a few files recently where questions surfaced about the new restrictions on who can and can’t solicit proxies for owners’ meetings. When can a manager solicit a proxy? When can’t a manager solicit a proxy? It appears some people may be unaware of the changes to the rules governing the solicitation of proxies for owners’ meetings, especially by managers and others on their behalf.  Continue reading

Forms for Ongoing Disclosure by Directors

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A lot has been written about the obligation of candidates to disclose information and make certain statements prior to their election or appointment to the board of directors. The Act requires candidates to satisfy the disclosure obligations prior to their election to be qualified as directors (see section 29(1)(f) of the Act). Whether the disclosure may be made orally at the meeting or in writing depends upon a number of factors, including when the person notified the condominium of their intention to be a candidate and the condominium’s by-laws. There is no prescribed form for making the required statements in writing, but many law firms and management companies have created forms for candidates to complete prior to the election. The requirements for candidate disclosures are described in section 11.6 of O.Reg. 48/01.  Continue reading

Update: Improper Use of the Indemnification Clause

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In July 2016, we wrote a post about Pearson v Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 178, 2012 ONSC 3300, a case where the condominium registered a lien against an owner’s unit for legal costs incurred by the condominium in relation to three unsuccessful small claims court actions brought by the owner. The court found that the indemnity clauses in the declaration that the condominium relied on did not apply to recovering the legal costs and ordered the condominium to discharge the lien.

We also noted a Small Claims Court decision where leave to appeal was granted because the judge relied on a general indemnity clause similar to Pearson v CCC No. 178 as authority for the Condominium to charge legal fees to the unit owner.

The Divisional Court of the Superior Court of Justice recently released its decision in Wexler v Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 28, 2017 ONSC 5697; the subject of that appeal.

While the majority of the decision deals with the standard of review for an award of costs, Justice O’Bonsawin does address the applicability of the general indemnity clause in the declaration for claiming legal costs. Specifically, at paragraph 16, she states,

In Pearson v. Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 178, 2012, ONSC 3300, the corporation submitted that the Condominium Corporation’s Declaration permitted it to recover all legal costs incurred related to the litigation by adding these costs to the common expenses of Pearson’s unit. The language in the Declaration in Pearson is very similar to that of this case. Mr. Justice Smith concluded that the article in the Condominium Corporation’s Declaration did not apply in that case because there had been no loss, damage or injury to the common elements caused by any act or omission by Ms. Pearson. I come to the same conclusion in Ms. Wexler’s case; Declaration X is not applicable as there has been no loss, costs, damage, injury or liability suffered or incurred with respect to the common elements and/or all other units caused by an act or omission by Ms. Wexler.

The provision in the declaration Justice O’Bonsawin referred to above reads as follows:

Each owner shall indemnify and save harmless the corporation from and against any loss, costs, damages, injury or liability whatsoever which the corporation may suffer or incur resulting from or cause by an act or omission of such owner, his family or any member thereof, any other resident of his unit or any guests, invitees or licencees of such owner or resident to or with respect to the common elements and/or all other units, except for any loss, costs, damages, injury or liability caused by an insured (as defined in any policy or policies of insurance) and insured against by the corporation.

This type of general indemnity clause is often the only indemnity clause found in older condominium corporation declarations.

So what is my point? Simply that case law is growing that supports the position that a condominium cannot force an owner to indemnify it for costs incurred without proper authority to do so and a general indemnity clause in the declaration might not be sufficient. Authority may be contained within the Act (see e.g. sections 92(4), 98 (4), or 134(5)), declaration (e.g. like above), or by-law (e.g. insurance deductible). The condominium’s lawyer can assist in determining if there is proper authority in the Act or documents or if there are other legal principles that may allow the condominium to recover the expense from the owner.

Finally, still to come with the amendments, is the promise of a new process and new forms for charging costs back to unit owners.  Once the amendments are in force only “prescribed additions” may be added to an owner’s common expenses and only once the “prescribed notice” is provided to the owner.