Requisition meetings can be a source of anxiety for many directors, managers, and owners. In my experience, the conduct of the parties during the preliminary steps of the requisition process can exacerbate the anxiety and cause a great deal tension, hostility, and bickering at the meeting. We previously wrote about the requirements for requisition meetings (here) and the practical tips (here) for condominiums in responding to requisition requests. Today, I thought that I would share some tips for owners requisitioning meetings.
Before we get to the tips, it should be noted that there are amendments to the Condominium Act, 1998, related to requisition meetings. The amendments will require the use of a prescribed form. There will also be permitted purposes for the meeting: information only; removal or election of directors; or other purposes the Act and regulations allow. These sections are not yet in force so the existing process continues to be the proper one.
1. Preparing the requisition
Before you start preparing the requisition, review Section 46 of the Act so you know what information must be included within the requisition. If the requisition is not completed properly the condominium is not obligated to call the meeting of owners.
There is no prescribed form (yet) for requisitions, but there are some available online if you want to start with a template. Basic information that you should include: 1) the legal name of the condominium (i.e. Waterloo Standard Condominium Corporation No. 1000); 2) the nature of the business you are requesting (i.e. information on the major repair project, removal of a director, vote on rules); and 3) the names and signatures of the persons requisitioning the meeting (often called the “requisitionists”). It is good idea to put a date on the requisition as well.
Keep the language in mind when drafting the requisition, especially when requisitioning a meeting to remove one or more directors. Many of the templates online have generic reasons for seeking removal of directors such as “failing to act in good faith and perform their duties”. Before using this language ask yourself: does this fit the situation? Accusing a director of bad faith and incompetence (especially when it is untrue) will cause intense emotions, which will likely create an immediate backlash. The condominium usually divides into sides – those supporting the directors and those supporting the requisitionists – and the tone for the meeting is set before it even starts. Instead, focus the requisition on the real reasons for seeking removal. For instance, if you disagree with a decision made by the directors put that in the requisition instead of generic accusations of bad faith and incompetence. For example, “We seek removal of John Doe and Jean Dupont because of their decision to implement xyz without asking the owners for input”.
Apart from creating an emotionally charged meeting, improper language in a requisition could also lead to court proceedings. For example, accusations against a director that are untrue could cause that director to file a claim for defamation against those responsible for preparing the requisition. This type of litigation is easily avoidable – stick to the facts.
If the AGM is coming up in a couple of months owners should ask themselves if another meeting is really necessary (especially if the cost of holding a meeting is a concern). If it can wait, the requisition should state that the owners consent to adding the business to the next AGM.
2. Collecting signatures
As described above, the language used in the requisition is important. Similarly, the language used when discussing the requisition with the other owners is also important. There are reported cases where condominiums have commenced emergency legal proceedings (before the meeting is held) against owners for spreading misinformation or lies to gather enough support (i.e. proxies) to achieve their desired outcome (i.e. removal of director, defeat by-law). While owners are entitled to ask other owners to sign the requisition, all attempts to collect signatures must be done in a respectful and honest manner. This means leaving when asked by the owner to do so and not intimidating people until they provide their signature. This means not spreading gossip about the board or other owners. This means sticking to the facts.
3. Serving the requisition
Again, it is important to review section 46 of the Act as there are only a few methods of delivering the requisition. It can be delivered in person or by registered mail to the president or secretary of the board. It can be deposited at the address for service, which is normally the property manager’s office. It should not be emailed to the president, given to the superintendent, or handed to the spouse of a director. Once a valid requisition is served the condominium should call a meeting of owners to address the business in the requisition.
A final note on conduct at the meeting. Requisition meetings can be intense, but they don’t have to be. Disagreements are perfectly fine. Name-calling and swearing are not. Asking to remove a director is acceptable too. Accusing them of criminal activity or dishonesty without evidence of such is inappropriate. If it helps, speak as you would if your child or parent were present at the meeting. Remember that the other people in attendance are your neighbours. Do you want it to be awkward to get on the elevator or walk to the mailbox?