Condo Chat: What do you want to see for future amendments?

stencil.default (3)Today I thought I would write about something a little different – it’s my wish list for the next round of amendments and changes to the regulations. Here they are in no specific order:

  1. Amalgamation for condominiums that are not standard. The amendments to the Act that have come into force make me believe this might be on the horizon, but the regulations still require the condominiums to be standard ones.  I understand the rationale for not combining different types of condominiums, but why restrict the ability only to standard condominiums? Six common elements condominiums should be able to amalgamate without much difficulty.
  2. Public database for managers. Many professional organizations, like the Law Society of Ontario, have a public database that people can search for  information on the licensees. It would be nice if the CMRAO had the same for managers. This would make it easier for people to search for information, such as their licences, about their managers without calling the CMRAO.
  3. Director training in formats other than online. This one is already possible as the authority has been delegated to the CAO. There are condominiums losing knowledgeable and experienced directors because they do not want to (or cannot) complete the training online. Why not allow a organization like CCI to offer training? The CAO could require accreditation of all programs just like the Law Society of Ontario does for the program to count toward our a lawyer’s continuing education requirement. ACMO still plays a role for managers. CCI has been a pivotal organization in educating directors for decades across the country. Why not allow them to continue to do what they do?
  4. More time to call a requisition meeting. The amendments to the Act make it very difficult for a condominium that receives a requisition to hold the meeting within the 35 day period required by the Act. While there is a provision that allows the condominium to send the preliminary notice out to owners 15 days before the notice of meeting, instead of 20 days, this still isn’t enough time in many cases. Currently, the Board only has a few days to review the requisition with its lawyer, find a location for the meeting, confirm the availability of everyone who needs to be there, and have the manager to prepare and distribute the preliminary notice to all of the owners. This is a transitional period issue as the timeline will change once further amendments are in place, but the transition period is taking much longer than expected so it would be nice if this amendment was prioritized for the next round.

These are just a few of the issues I’d like to see prioritized for the next round of amendments. Only time will tell when the next phase of amendments will come into force as there has been no press release from the new government with respect to its plans for the condominium industry. I’d love to hear from you. What do you want to see in the next round?

Amendments: What’s still to come?

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I am regularly asked about the amendments to the Condominium Act, 1998, and when we can expect the next phase of amendments.  Many estimates suggested that the next round of amendments would be coming in the Spring of 2018. Nothing has been formally announced and this is looking less and less likely as we near June. There are some significant amendments still to come, including:

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Big Changes to Tarion and Warranties are Coming!

stencil.default (2)The Strengthening Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, 2017, which is also known as “Bill 166”, received royal assent on December 14, 2017. According to the press release by the Ontario government, Bill 166 was designed to “build a fairer, safer and more informed marketplace with stronger rules for buying event tickets and travel services, and purchasing, leasing or selling real estate, including newly built homes.” The bill amends or repeals 13 existing statutes like the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan ActReal Estate and Business Brokers Act, and Travel Industry Act, and enacts three new statutes: the Ticket Sales Act, New Home Construction Licensing Act, 2017, and Protection for Owners and Purchasers of New Homes Act, 2017. 

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New Help Guides & Factsheets!

I received an email from the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) today about some free resources it recently created. The MGCS has released two very useful (and free) guides on the amendments to the Condominium Act, 1998, and the Condominium Management Services Act (CMSA):

In addition to the two plain language guides, the MGCS also released four documents to assist people in dealing with requests to records, both core and non-core.

Our firm had previously prepared flowcharts for our clients, but these ones are definitely nicer looking! That said, it would have been nice if the record flowcharts included the deadline for the requester to reply to the board’s response. The forms indicate that a reply is required, but the more times it is said the more likely people are to remember that they must reply or their request may be deemed to have been abandoned.

To access the above guides and factsheets visit:

http://mailchi.mp/bd62beeb85b5/new-requirements-for-the-condo-sector-in-2018-and-helpful-guides-to-the-recent-condo-law-changes?e=de7b6cdd50

Update on the New Requirements as of January 1, 2018

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I don’t know about you, but I sometimes get distracted while reading about all of the amendments to the Act (and the related amendments to twelve other pieces of legislation!). I’ll read a clause in the Act that refers to the regulations. I go to the regulations, then back to the Act, to a condo law blog or magazine, and before I know it I’ve spent hours researching something I had no intention of researching when I started my journey. I’ll usually find something that no one seems to be talking about or that I somehow missed the dozens (?) of times I’ve read through the legislation.

In a previous post (available here: https://ontcondolaw.com/2017/12/12/amendments-coming-january-1-2018/) I wrote about the amendments scheduled to come into force on January 1, 2018. The amendments included:

  1. Adding some warranty coverage for residential conversion condos;
  2. Requiring condos to file returns to the CAO;  and
  3. Creating a new compliance order process for the registrar of the CAO.

I have received a few questions about the status of these amendments because there has been very little talk about them. I thought that I would provide an update to you all today. Continue reading

My Favourite Condo Lessons of 2017

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Just as I did last year, I’ve put together a list of my favourite condo lessons for 2017. Every condo director, owner, manager, and other person living in or working for condominiums should know these lessons:

10. An owner cannot bring apply for a minor variance from a zoning by-law for common element parking spaces. The board of directors is obligated to manage the common elements, which includes applying for any minor variances that may be required for the common elements. A different result may have occurred if the owner had the exclusive use of all of the common elements the minor variance would apply to, but in this case the owner only had exclusive use of 6 of the 82 parking spaces. Read our post on the case here: https://ontcondolaw.com/2017/10/03/who-can-apply-for-a-minor-variance-for-the-common-elements-condo-or-owner/

9. Only lawyers should register liens. Most lawyers jumped for joy when a decision about a lien was released in May of this year. During the trial a report from the Law Society was produced to show that, in the eyes of the Law Society, a paralegal is not authorized to register liens; only lawyers should register liens. The interesting part is that in most firms the law clerks, not lawyers, register liens. And don’t get me started on lawyers who give their clerks access to their registration keys…yikes. Here is our previous post on the topic: https://ontcondolaw.com/2017/05/29/is-lien-work-really-for-lawyers-only/

8. Condos can charge interest at almost criminal rates. A case this summer confirmed that a condo can charge interest at 30% above the prime rate if a by-law authorizes it. For  more information, read the MTCC 1067 v. 1388020 Ontario Corp. case available here: https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2017/2017onsc4793/2017onsc4793.pdf

7. Green energy initiatives are becoming increasingly popular as hydro costs soar and the government is making it easier for condos to implement some of them. For instance, submetering of the units for electricity consumption does not require the approval of the owners; the board can implement it by resolution of the board alone. Condos cannot prohibit clotheslines, but may have restrictions or conditions for their use. For more information, see our previous post on green energy initiatives: https://ontcondolaw.com/2017/05/10/green-initiatives-in-condos/

6. Similarly, electric vehicles and charging stations are likely to be a hot topic in future years as demand for electric vehicles increases.  For more information on some of the legal issues associated with electric vehicles and charging stations see our previous post: https://ontcondolaw.com/2017/04/27/electric-vehicles-in-condos/ 

5. Degrading and harassing behaviour may be prohibited by section 117 as it may be likely to cause psychological harm.  Some owners abuse managers and directors with vulgar language, yelling, and threats. The court has indicated that extreme cases would violate section 117, which prohibits conduct that is likely to cause injury to persons or damage to the property. It would also constitute workplace harassment, which condominiums have a duty to protect their workers from. See our previous post on: https://ontcondolaw.com/2017/04/23/if-you-cant-say-something-nice/

4. Owners need to be careful about sending defamatory emails to other owners and residents. Where an owner sends defamatory emails about directors or the manager, the condominium may obtain an order directing an internet service provider to disclose info to the condo to enable it to identify the person. Defamation is a communication that tends to lower the esteem of the subject in the minds of ordinary members of the public. For more information or to read the case in its entirety, see our previous post: https://ontcondolaw.com/2017/07/26/defamation-in-condos-an-update/

3. The courts will not amend a declaration because an owner feels it is inconsistent with the Act or unfair. The courts have confirmed that their involvement in such matters is limited by the Act to situations where there is an error or inconsistency in documents or where the documents are oppressive. The court will not interfere with validly passed by-laws either. For more information, read our previous post: https://ontcondolaw.com/2017/08/22/summer-case-law-reading/. For a more recent decision by the courts, see the following case: https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2017/2017onsc6542/2017onsc6542.html

2. Many more condos may make the switch from self-managed to professional managers in 2018 and beyond because of the next lesson on this list. For more information, see our post for self-managed condos: https://ontcondolaw.com/2017/12/18/self-managed-condominiums/

And the top lesson of 2017 (it was also the top for 2015 and 2016) is…

1. The Protecting Condominium Owners Act, 2015. Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year, you know the Condominium Act, 1998, (and a number of other statutes) were amended this year. Some of the key changes in force now include:

  • The creation of the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO) to oversee condo managers. [www.cmrao.ca].
  • The mandatory licensing of condo managers by February 1st, 2018.
  • The creation of the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) to oversee condos. [www.condoauthorityontario.ca].
  • The creation of the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) to hear condo disputes. The CAT’s jurisdiction is currently limited to record disputes, but the intention is to extend it to other areas in the future.
  • Mandatory training for directors and disclosure obligations for candidates for the board of directors.
  • A new process for calling owners’ meetings, including new forms for the preliminary notice, notice, and proxies.
  • Allowing teleconferencing for board meetings without a by-law.
  • Reducing quorum for owners meetings after two unsuccessful attempts to achieve quorum.
  • Reducing the approval level required for certain by-laws, like adding disclosure obligations for candidates.
  • More communications with owners in the form of three new certificates: periodic information certificate, information certificate update, and new owner information certificate.
  • A new record request process where owners, mortgagees or purchasers want to obtain records of the condominium.

There are new forms associated with many of the changes described above. The forms are available here: https://www.ontario.ca/search/land-registration?openNav=forms&sort=desc&field_forms_act_tid=condominium

The deadline for registering condos was recently extended to February 28, 2018. For more information, visit the CAO’s website.

More changes are coming on January 1st, 2018. You can read about those here: https://ontcondolaw.com/2017/12/12/amendments-coming-january-1-2018/

More changes will come into force on February 1st, 2018 and later in 2018 (and maybe early in 2019). Changes still to come include:

  • The regulatory part of the licensing of managers, such as a complaints and discipline process.
  • Extending warranty coverage through Tarion to residential conversion condominiums in some instances.
  • A process for preparing a budget and notifying owners of changes to it.
  • A process for charging costs back to owners (i.e. infractions, damage).

Stay tuned! Next year should be full of lessons as more of the amendments are released and we have an opportunity to interpret them.