While the vast majority of condominiums have professional condominium managers, there are some condominiums without any managers. These “self-managed condominiums” are managed completely by the board of directors. The board completes many of the tasks normally delegated to the manager, like sending notices to owners, collecting monthly fees, and paying contractors. Sometimes the directors are compensated for their services, but not always. [Note: you might want to get legal advice about receiving compensation as a director].
The amendments to the Condominium Act, 1998, came into force on November 1, 2017. More come into force on January 1, 2018 and February 1, 2018. While those with professional condominium managers can ask their managers to guide them through the amendments, self-managed directors must figure it out on their own (or rely upon other professionals, like lawyers, auditors, and other condominium professionals).
For the self-managed directors out there, I think the following tasks should be your top priorities:
- By December 31, 2017, make sure you register the condominium with the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) and pay the initial assessment (the $1/month/unit): www.condoauthorityontario.ca.
- Before February 1, 2018, confirm that you do not require a condominium licence with the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO): www.cmrao.ca. [Note: directors require a licence if they receive compensation for providing condominium management services (i.e. collecting monthly fees, paying contractors, entering into contracts, and supervising employees or contractors)].
- Download all of the new forms: https://www.ontario.ca/search/land-registration?openNav=forms&sort=desc&field_forms_act_tid=condominium. The new forms are mandatory in most instances (i.e. calling meetings, proxies), but some are optional (i.e. agreement to receive notices electronically).
- Bookmark important dates for condominium, such as the deadlines for:
- sending out the periodic information certificates (within 60 days of the last day of the 1st and 3rd quarters) [note: don’t forget to send the new owner information certificate to new owners and the information certificate update upon certain changes, like a change in directors].
- filing your annual return to the CAO.
- sending out the preliminary notice of meetings (at least 35 days before owners’ meetings, like the AGM) and the notice of meeting (at least 20 days after the preliminary notice and at least 15 days before the meeting).
- Educate yourself on the changes: complete the directors’ training on the CAO website [note: directors elected, re-elected, appointed, or acclaimed after November 1, 2017 must complete the training within six months], read industry magazines (like the CondoNews), follow condo law blogs (including this one!) and attend CCI and ACMO events.
- Review your condominium’s declaration, by-laws and rules to see if you should speak with a lawyer about amending some of the documents to remove clauses that may be unenforceable or inconsistent with the Act after the amendments (i.e. the notice requirements for owners’ meetings) or add clauses now permitted by the amendments (i.e. voting by telephonic or electronic means for owners’ meetings).
- Share information with your unit owners about the changes. Put it in newsletters, on the portal/website, and discuss the changes at owners’ meetings.
Some local chapters of CCI (or other organizations) have meetings where directors can gather and share ideas. For instance, CCI promotes the CondoSTRENGTH program. There is also the Roundtable in London. Some areas have their own condominium associations, like the Brant Condominium Corporation Association (BCCA). Join the discussion and learn as much as you can.
If the board of directors is unable to complete the new work required by the amendments, the directors must seek advice from professionals to assist them in completing the work and ensuring compliance with the Act. If the directors are unwilling to complete the new work required by the amendments (and who can blame them with all of the changes), the directors must consider hiring a professional condominium manager. There are management firms that offer limited services packages (i.e. financial management) that might keep costs down while also ensuring the condominium is in compliance with the new requirements. Some management firms also have online systems that allow them to assist condominiums throughout the province at a fraction of the cost. There are options out there; turning a blind eye is not one of them.