On November 1, 2017, the government introduced 15 new forms to the condo industry in Ontario. There are new forms for calling meetings, like a preliminary notice and notice of meeting. There are three forms about the record of owners/mortgagees and receiving notices electronically. There is a single prescribed proxy form. There are three new certificates (PIC, ICU, NOIC) and a notice for distributing them online. Even record requests have been complicated (or simplified depending on your perspective) with the creation of three prescribed forms.
The forms seem to be a hot topic these days. It sounds like most people despise the new forms, or at least find them unwieldy. It isn’t that surprising given the start we had with the new forms. They were released a day before the relevant sections came into force. There were issues opening the forms (if you could find them at all).
As much as there have been problems, some aspects of the forms are good. The layout of the information certificates is better than the form for status certificates. The font is easy to read. There is less room for customization, which can lead to errors and other issues. Although, there has been some discussion lately about whether a condominium can alter the prescribed forms or not. My advice would be to stick to the forms to avoid disputes. If you want to include an explanation of a form that is perfectly fine.
Once people started using the forms more problems were discovered. They are fillable pdfs, which doesn’t work well for forms sent via mail to owners, like the proxy. The forms are lengthy, cumbersome, and difficult to understand in some parts. Some are missing numbers for owners to fill in their unit number. There are no date spots. The instructions are not clear at times. A work in progress for sure.
The forms were intended to standardize the industry, which I fully support. The problem is that in many cases the new forms are overkill. The proxy form when fully expanded is at least 3 pages! I rarely attended a meeting with the old proxies where the forms were filled out correctly. The new proxy is even worse. I appreciate the thought that went into making a form that (hopefully) prevents many of the abuses owners were complaining of, but for the 95% of condominiums where proxy abuse is not an issue the form is likely to have the unintended consequences of reducing unit representation by proxy (without a corresponding increase in representation by other means).
While most discussion has focused on the new forms, it is important to note that many of the “old” forms will still be used for certain matters, like the summary of lease or renewal form that owners must send the condominium when they lease their unit. The forms for liens haven’t changed. The forms for new developments, amendments to documents, amalgamations, and terminations haven’t changed either.
Unfortunately, many of the “old” forms need to be updated to reflect the amendments to the Act. For example, the certificate of by-law form has not been changed to reflect the provisions in the regulations that allow the owners of less than a majority of the units to approve certain types of by-laws. I’ve already had to register one of those by-laws. I amended the certificate of by-law form to reflect the lower voting threshold.
The future new
Lastly, it is important to note that there are still many new forms to come with the rest of the amendments, like forms for requisitions, budgets, and charging costs back to owners (i.e. indemnification for legal costs, repairs). Some of the new and old forms will require further changes to reflect amendments not yet in force.
Do the forms have issues? For sure, but that doesn’t mean we should do away with them completely. The standardization is important for the industry. It could make us all more efficient once we get used to them. Like many parts of the amendments, the forms are a work in progress that will be altered as issues arise. I hope the government listens to a group of condo experts currently working on recommended changes to the forms. These recommendations could greatly improve the usefulness of the forms and reduce chances for disputes surrounding them.
The forms, both new and old, are available on the government website: www.ontario.ca.