Today, I thought that I would do something a little different and list some of the free resources available to those with condo questions. Your condo manager might also be able to help with some questions, like where to find the declaration, by-laws and rules (note: many condominiums have websites where key documents can be obtained free of charge). Here are a few of my favourite resources:
Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO)
The CAO is an organization (independent from the government) that aims to improve condominium living by providing resources and services. All condominiums in Ontario are obligated to file returns to the CAO with basic information about the condo, its directors and manager, and update the information when it changes. The information received by the CAO is available on the public database on its website.
In addition to the database, the CAO is the entity responsible for providing the mandatory director training for condominium directors. The training is completed on the CAO website. While it is mandatory for condominium directors to take the training, many owners find it useful as well so I encourage everyone to take a look at the online training when they have some spare time.
The CAO also has a tribunal for condo disputes related to records only at this point, but the jurisdiction may be expanded in the future to cover other areas of condo disputes. The tribunal is available online – from filing to final decision – so owners don’t need to take time off work to pursue their claims. The rules of the tribunal and helpful guides related to the tribunal are also online.
The CAO also has a number of resource guides, templates, and sample documents for review. The CAO is online at condoauthorityontario.ca. You can also find them on social media, like Twitter, so you might want to follow them for current updates on legislative changes, upcoming events, and other useful information.
Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO)
The CMRAO is another newly formed organization (also independent from the government) that oversees the licensing and regulation of condominium managers in Ontario.
It is now mandatory for all managers providing services to condominiums in Ontario (except in very limited circumstances) to be licensed by the CMRAO. There are different types of licences based on experience and education. The CMRAO’s website contains a database of its licensed managers so you can check to see if your manager is licensed by performing a quick search.
Like the CAO, the CMRAO has a number of resource guides, templates, and sample documents for review. Not surprisingly, most of the documents relate to licensing or regulation of managers so most are more useful for managers. That said, they do have documents that help clear up common misconceptions about the role of managers, which may be helpful for owners and directors as well.
The CMRAO is online at cmrao.ca. You can also find them on social media, like Twitter.
Representatives of the CAO and CMRAO are also regularly available to answer questions at the seminars and conferences of the other condo organizations, like the upcoming conference for the Golden Horseshoe Chapter of CCI.
There are plenty of other organizations aimed at providing education and other resources to condo owners and professionals. The Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI) has chapters across Canada. Many of the chapters provide regular educational seminars, annual conferences, newsletters or magazines, and plenty more. CCI National has a list of all of the chapters on its website: cci.ca. Find your local group and join! Some cities have their own organizations as well, like the Brant Condominium Corporation Association (mybcca.ca/). For managers, there is the Association of Condominium Managements of Ontario (ACMO). For more information check out the website: acmo.org/
Finally, there are many other resources available online. Some are provided by companies serving condominiums, owners’ groups and others. While many of these resources provide valuable information, they should be reviewed critically (like all content on the internet) to see if they are reliable and credible sources. Someone promoting a particular service or method of doing something over other equally appropriate methods may have ulterior motives.