How to Read the Condo Act

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I sometimes receive emails or calls from owners and directors who disagree with my opinion on an issue because they have read the Condominium Act, 1998, and misinterpreted part of it. Once I explain the relevant part of the Act or assist them in finding the relevant information they missed, we are usually able to agree on the issue. In the hopes of avoiding these sorts of disagreements in the future, I thought that I would provide some tips for reading and interpreting the Act. Continue reading

Can Your Condo Opt-Out of the Act?

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I have heard of situations where a condominium wants to avoid a requirement of the Act for one reason or another. Often the desire is to avoid the costs associated with the requirement. Other times the desire appears to be to reduce the number of administrative tasks. Whatever the reason, Section 176 of the Condominium Act, 1998, clearly states that the Act “applies despite any agreement to the contrary”. This means you cannot contract out of the Act.

Notwithstanding Section 176 of the Act, there are parts of the Act that a condominium can override by making changes to its declaration, by-laws or rules. There are also parts of the Act that a condominium can opt-out of if certain requirements are met.  Continue reading

Latest Order Allows Virtual Condo Meetings

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One of the busiest times of year for annual general meetings (“AGMs”) normally begins in mid-April and lasts until the end of June. This period of time is normally when condominiums with December 31 year-ends hold their AGMs. Unfortunately, many condominiums have been unable to hold their AGMs due to COVID-19.  Often the directors felt like they were being forced to decide which way they wanted to contravene the Act: hold the AGM using virtual meetings even though the condominium did not have a by-law permitting virtual meetings, or postpone the AGM and contravene the requirement to hold the meeting within six months of the fiscal year end.  Not an ideal situation.

Fortunately, on Friday April 24, 2020, the Ontario government issued an Order to provide some temporary relief to condominiums struggling to make these tough decisions. The Order makes various amendments to the Condominium Act, 1998, with respect to meetings of the owners and of the board to make it easier to hold virtual meetings. A copy of the order can be found here: https://files.ontario.ca/solgen-oic-meetings-for-corporations.pdf Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: New Financial Option for Condominiums

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On March 21, 2020, we published a post entitled COVID-19 Update: Virtual Meetings, Condo Fees, and Liens. We suggested some ways in which condominiums could lessen the burden on owners who may be struggling to pay their condo fees, such as revising the budget or changing the payment schedule. We also eluded to a third option coming soon. This morning we learned more about that third option. Continue reading

CAT Says Being Self-Managed is Not an Excuse

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In a recent decision the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) was asked to rule on an owner’s request for records. The owner requested several records, including audited financial statements, budgets, board meeting minutes, AGM minutes, the most recent PIC, by-laws, employment agreements with any directors, and management contract. The condominium suggested that many of the issues raised by the owner were due to the condominium being self-managed. Spoiler: this was not a reasonable excuse for not providing records. Continue reading

Can a Condo Prohibit Talking on a Balcony after 11 pm?

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An owner complains about noise from her neighbour’s balcony late at night and asks the condominium to prohibit the neighbour from talking on the balcony after 11 p.m. The condominium does not have a rule prohibiting residents from talking on their balconies at night, but has a rule prohibiting noise that disturbs the other residents.

With more of us staying at home these days this is bound to be a common problem, especially once the warmer weather comes. What should the condominium do when faced with these sorts of complaints? Should the condominium send demand letters to the neighbour? Start a court application? Should the condominium pass a rule prohibiting these late night discussions on the balconies? Fortunately, a recently reported case gives us some guidance.

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Caremongering in Condos

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During the pandemic a new word is spreading around the world almost as quickly as the virus itself: Caremongering. Caremongering is a response to the scaremongering that some feel is prevalent these days due to the pandemic. Caremongering groups are popping up all over to help vulnerable groups or people struggling due to the pandemic. Some are aimed at helping seniors and other vulnerable people get necessities, like food and medicine. Some groups are trying to find ways to support small, local businesses stay open during the pandemic. Other groups try to help with the anxiety and depression caused (or exacerbated) by the pandemic’s isolation.

What does this have to do with condos? Condos are small communities and there are many opportunities for caremongering within the community. Before we get into some ideas, let me be clear about a few things. I am not encouraging people to engage in activities that endanger themselves or any other resident. Anyone participating in these activities must take the necessary precautions to avoid the spread of the virus and comply with any orders or recommendations made by public officials. (Sorry for the disclaimer, but remember this is a blog written by lawyers).

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Section 109: Court Amendments of the Declaration & Description

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I appreciate that many of you might be feeling overwhelmed by all of the posts about COVID-19 lately. It is all we hear about and it is hard not to feel anxious about it sometimes. Today, we go back to normal. This post is about a recent court decision.

A recent case discusses when the court will order an amendment to the declaration or description under section 109 of the Condominium Act, 1998.  According to section 109 of the Act a condominium or an owner may make an application to the Superior Court of Justice for an order amending a declaration or description. The court may make an order where:

Grounds for order

(3) The court may make an order to amend the declaration or description if satisfied that the amendment is necessary or desirable to correct an error or inconsistency that appears in the declaration or description or that arises out of the carrying out of the intent and purpose of the declaration or description. 1998, c. 19, s. 109 (3).

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COVID-19 Update: Virtual Meetings, Condo Fees, and Liens

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On March 12, 2020, we wrote a post about the most common questions that we are receiving about COVID-19 in condominiums.  The focus was on the basics: the obligations of condominiums to ensure the property is safe, the ability of the condominium to clean or sanitize common areas without approval of the owners,  reducing or closing common amenities unless essential,  and handling repair and maintenance work. I’m going to do much of the same today, but the focus will be on meetings, condo fees, and liens.

As a reminder, I am not a medical professional. The Public Health Agency of Canada is a great source for tips on preventing the spread and keeping yourself safe. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html. Public Health Ontario also has great resources, including a helpful self-assessment tool if you are concerned that you may have the virus. https://www.publichealthontario.ca/ 

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Condo Obligations: COVID-19 & Other Communicable Diseases

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last month, you know that COVID-19 is the latest coronavirus  (i.e. SARS, MERS) causing concern around the world. Yesterday, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic due to the “alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction.” According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) the symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Some people experience more serious symptoms and even death. As of the time of this post, the PHAC has said the risk to Canadians is low. PHAC has indicated that certain groups are at risk of more severe outcomes, including those who are over 65 years old, those with compromised immune systems, and those with underlying medical conditions.

I wasn’t going to post about this topic because it has been covered by so many other condo law blogs already, but I have received dozens of emails and calls about COVID-19 in the last few weeks from worried clients. I am not going to get into the various medical, political or legal issues surrounding COVID-19. I am not going to give medical advice. Instead, I’m going to answer some of the most common questions that I receive about the obligations of condominiums with respect to COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. Continue reading