My Favourite Condo Lessons of 2017

2017

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.

What is changing come November 1, 2017?

timeWe are only days away now from the next phase of amendments to the Condominium Act, 1998 (and other statutes) from the Protecting Condominium Owners Act, 2015 (Bill 106). The first phase created the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO), which is the authority responsible for overseeing the Condominium Act, 1998 and improving condominium living in Ontario. With so many changes described in Bill 106 and talk about phasing in the amendments, the question I am most often asked is “What is changing next?” Continue reading

Condo Managers: Licence Application Details Now Available!

appAs you probably know, the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO) is set to start regulating condominium managers and management companies on November 1, 2017. The first phase will be the licensing of managers. The second phase will be the regulation of managers in February of 2018. From the information available so far, the regulation will be similar to other professionals in that there will be a complaints process that includes possible discipline if a manager has acted improperly in carrying out his or her duties. The details on the regulation of managers will be saved for another post; today’s post will focus on the licensing.

Who must apply?

All individuals and companies providing condominium management services, which includes:

  1. Collecting or holding contributions to the common expenses or other amounts levied by, or payable to, the corporation; or
  2. Exercising delegated powers and duties of the corporation or its board of directors, including: making payments to third parties on behalf of the corporation; negotiating or entering into contracts on behalf of the corporation, or supervising employees or contractors hired or engaged by the corporation.

Self-managed boards or others hired by condominiums (i.e. accountants, bookkeepers) may be exempt from the licence requirements, but care must be taken to ensure a licence is not required.

What type of licence do I apply for?

One of the most difficult questions for managers to tackle might be “Which licence do I apply for?” Because there are limits on the tasks that managers with limited licences will be able to perform, most managers will want to apply for transitional or general licences, if they qualify. On the other hand, no one wants to waste time (and money) applying for a licence that they won’t be granted by the CMRAO. Fortunately, the CMRAO’s website has a short guide to assist managers; there is even an interactive feature to help determine the most appropriate application if the manager is willing to answer a few basic questions.

How do I apply?

While the application forms themselves are not available as of the date of this post, there are detailed lists of the requirements for each type of licence:

http://www.cmrao.ca/licensing/applying-for-a-licence/general-licence/

http://www.cmrao.ca/licensing/transitional-general-licence/

http://www.cmrao.ca/licensing/applying-for-a-licence/limited-licence/

http://www.cmrao.ca/licensing/applying-for-a-licence/condo-management-firm-licence/ 

Given the time involved in some of the requirements (i.e. police check), I would start gathering the required information sooner rather than later. There is a $150.00 application fee for each manager’s application. This application fee is on top of the annual fees that managers will be obliged to pay to the CMRAO.

Annual Fees

Not surprisingly, there will be annual fees associated with the licences. For limited licences, the fee is $379.00. For transitional general licences and general licences, the fee is $607.00. For management companies, the fee is $799.00 plus $350.00/licensed manager employed. The fees for the first year will be prorated since licensing will be for the period of November 2017 to June 30, 2018. As an incentive to get applications in early, the CMRAO has indicated that managers who submit their applications between November 1 and December 15, 2017 and pay their fee thin 30 days of receiving their approval notice will receive a discount of 10% on their initial annual fee.

For more information, visit www.cmrao.ca. Given that we are only a few weeks away from mandatory licensing, I would check the website regularly for updates and the application forms.