Switching from Snail Mail to Email

MailThe first round of amendments to the Condominium Act, 1998, are scheduled to come into force on November 1, 2017. As you likely know, many of the changes will require more frequent (and voluminous) communications to owners. This extra paperwork could be very costly to produce in paper and deliver by mail. As such, now might be the time for most condominiums to switch to electronic means to deliver notices to owners. Electronic means is usually email, but it could be via fax, community website, or another method of communicating electronically.

What’s involved in electronic delivery of notices?

Currently, the owner must consent to receive notice by electronic means. This does not change with the amendments. What does change is the way this is accomplished. There appear to be two ways to do this once the amendments come into force. First, like the current version, the owner may indicate, in writing, that they agree to receive electronic notice for communications. This is typically done via email or by submitting a form created by the condominium.

Another method will be possible once the amendments are in force. The agreement to allow the condominium to deliver notice by electronic means may be “in a form, other than writing, if it is in accordance with the regulations, if any.”  Right now it appears to be limited to a form to be prescribed by the government. Over time, however, the regulations could prescribe other methods, such as checking a box on the community website or consenting via telephone.

One of the biggest expenses will likely be to produce and distribute the information certificates which must be delivered at least twice per year and upon certain changes (i.e. change in address for service, directors). The certificates will be a few pages, but with a number of lengthy attachments the full package could be over 100 pages. If a condominium is required to deliver the certificates in paper to each owner the printing and mail costs will be significant. Fortunately, the amendments to the Act allow condominiums to post the certificates to a community website and deliver a notice of the posting to the owners. The idea is that the condominium would send notice of the posting and the owners who wish to review, save, or print the certificate can do so at their own cost. The notice of posting will inform owners that they can obtain paper copies from the condominium according to section 55(3) of the Act.

If a condominium could achieve the consent of all owners to receive notice by email or electronic means it could greatly reduce the amount of labour and postage charges, especially if technology is used to complete the task (i.e. distribution to all owners instead of separate emails to each owner). Even getting to 70-80% of the owners by electronic means could significantly reduce costs. This obviously depends on the demographics of the owners as some groups may be more tech-savvy than others. That said, don’t count out the older generations: many have embraced technology and could certainly teach me a thing or two!