Section 46 of the Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Act”) permits the owners to demand a meeting of the owners (often called a “requisition meeting”). To prevent a single owner from causing unnecessary cost and disruption, the Act requires the demand (called a “requisition”) to be made by the owners of at least 15 percent (15%) of the units. It is noteworthy that it is the owners listed in the condominium’s records, not the registered owners that may requisition the meeting. Because of this distinction, it is important for the owners to notify the condominium when they purchase their units and for the condominium to update its records when such notices are received from the owners.
Upon receipt of a requisition from the owners, the board should review it to ensure it satisfies the requirements of section 46. However, a recent case suggests that the board should not take an overly restrictive or narrow approach when reviewing the requisition.
- Is it in writing (as opposed to a verbal requisition)?
- Is it signed by the persons requisitioning the meeting? (Note: a signature is not required; an owner may print his/her name).
- Are the owners of at least 15% of the units (as listed in the condominium’s records) requisitioning the meeting?
- Does it state the nature of the business to be presented at the meeting (i.e. vote on proposed change in services, removal of director)?
- Was it delivered personally or by registered mail to the president or secretary or was it deposited at the condominium’s address for service? (Note: actual notice of the requisition may be sufficient even if not properly delivered).
- If it is for the removal of one or more directors, does it state the name of the director, the reasons removal is sought, and indicate if the director holds the owner-occupied position (if any)?
While there may be other reasons to invalidate an otherwise valid requisition, such as fraud, deception, or an improper request for a vote on subject-matter that is the exclusive jurisdiction of the board of directors, such a step should not be taken without input from the condominium’s lawyer.
If the requirements of the Act are satisfied, the board of directors must call an owners’ meeting to discuss the matters set out in the requisition within 35 days, unless the requisitioning owners request within the requisition, or consent in writing, to add the business to the AGM. If the board fails to call a meeting when required, any one of the requisitioning owners may call the meeting and the condominium must reimburse the owner for the reasonable costs incurred in calling the meeting.
In my experience, most owners requisitioning a meeting simply want more information about the decisions being made by the directors. Although the reason the owners do not have the information is often because they did not attend the AGM or read the newsletters circulated by the board, the board should not take a hostile position and accuse the owners of wasting the condominium’s time and money. Most of the time the requisition was not intended as a personal attack or accusation against the board, but arose merely from a desire for more information.
Requisition meetings often have a greater turnout than other owners’ meetings. Since there is no prohibition against using the meeting to conduct other business, I’d suggest you take advantage of the opportunity and discuss other issues the board would like to raise with the owners (or try to pass that by-law that the condominium has been unable to pass at previous meetings because of a lack of quorum). A requisition meeting doesn’t have to be a bad thing!