Condos in Trouble

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We’ve all heard the horror stories of condominiums with no money in their reserve accounts and significant repair projects that need to be completed. Work orders may have been issued by the municipality because the buildings are falling apart and becoming a danger to the occupants. At best, there are allegations of mismanagement by previous boards. At worst, there are allegations of fraud and theft. Many of the owners have defaulted in their contributions toward the common expenses and the condominium is unable to pay its contractors, which results in lawsuits due to unpaid bills. The local real estate agents know of the issues and the market values of the units plummet.

When the board attempts to fix some of these problems, such as levying special assessments, they often receive a requisition to remove them. The new board quickly changes managers, rescinds the special assessment, and lowers monthly fees. A requisition is received to remove the new board shortly after they are elected. Factions form and every issue creates further division among the owners. The problems are ignored or pushed aside while the groups fight for control.

So, what can be done in these terrible situations? The Act contains a few options to help condominiums get out of trouble. Continue reading

Condo Stats – Toronto & Area

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Earlier this year I posted updated statistics for the Grand River and Golden Horseshoe areas. Today, I’m focusing on Toronto and surrounding areas, including York, Peel and Durham.

As of August 8, 2017, Toronto had 2602 condominium corporations. Today, that number has grown to 2714. The last one registered is a 12 floor building with 642 units (about 180 of which appear to be parking or storage units).

As of August 8, 2017, York had 1240 condominium corporations. Today, that number is 1406! The last condominium registered has 372 units.

Peel had 1021 condominium corporations on August 8, 2017. As of today, Peel has 1054 condominium corporations. The last one registered is a mammoth with 975 units over 5 floors (in several buildings).

Finally, as of August 8, 2017, Durham had 285 condominium corporations. While it has the fewest condominium corporations, Durham continues to have impressive growth. It now has 308 condominium corporations. The last registered has 224 units.

As said in previous posts,  the total number is not the number of active condominiums. Some condominiums have been terminated or amalgamated so the “real” numbers are less than those above. I understand the CAO is working on obtaining a list of the “real” number so hopefully it will be able to start releasing statistics to the public soon.

That’s it for now.  Share this post and let me know what area you want statistics for next!

Voting: All condo units are not created equal

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As discussed in a post earlier this week, there has been some confusion as of late over the phrase “units in a corporation”. Does that mean all units? Only voting units? Owner-occupied units? Residential units? Fortunately, there is a section of the regulations that interprets the phrase. Continue reading

The Controversiality of the Voting Threshold: Borrowing By-laws

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Earlier this week, we blogged about the considerations and processes involved when a condominium determines there is a need for borrowing from a lender, inclusive of the requirement for a borrowing by-law. In this post, we discuss a recent case related to the passage of borrowing by-laws, which has created some controversy within the condominium industry.

LaFramboise v. York Condominium Corp. No. 365, 2019 CarswellOnt 680, dealt with a motion brought by an appointed administrator on behalf of a condominium corporation, seeking direction from the court as to whether a borrowing by-law had been passed at an owners’ meeting. Although there was little information provided on the particular circumstances that led to this application, it appears that some unit owners may have questioned the validity of a borrowing by-law that was passed at an owners’ meeting, resulting in the motion for direction to be filed by the condominium corporation’s administrator.

Based upon an interpretation of sections 50 and 53 of the Condominium Act, 1998 (“Act”), the Court appears to suggest that so long as a majority of all unit owners within a condominium are present at an owners’ meeting called to consider a borrowing by-law, a borrowing by-law can be successfully passed with the support of a majority of all unit owners present at the meeting rather than a majority of all units within the corporation.

Respectfully, the conclusions drawn from the interpretation of the Act in this case are contrary to the Act; specifically, section 56(10) of the Act.

56(10) of the Act unambiguously states that a by-law is not effective until:

“(a) the owners of a majority of the units in the corporation, or such other number of owners that is prescribed, vote in favour of confirming it, with or without amendment…”

Unless a lower voting threshold is prescribed in the regulations, section 56(10) of the Act makes it clear that a majority of the units in the corporation must vote in favour of a proposed by-law in order for it to pass, rather than the majority of units present at the meeting.

An often overlooked section of the regulations provides additional support for our position. Section 1.1(1) states that a reference to the portion of units in a corporation in the Act or regulations shall be interpreted as a reference to a portion of: a) owner-occupied units; b) units that are not s.49(3) units (i.e. parking, storage, facilities or mechanical installations); or c) all units in the corporation if all units are s.49(3) units and clause (a) does not apply. Subsection (2) specifically states that subsection 1.1(1) applies to section 56(10)(a) of the Act. Accordingly, subsection 56(10) requires a majority of units in the corporation that are not s.49(3) units unless all of the units are those type of units.

As noted above, the regulations do outline various by-laws that can be passed by a majority of the units present at a meeting rather than a majority of all units in a corporation; however, you will note that a borrowing by-law is not one of the prescribed by-laws that may be passed with the support of a majority of units present at a meeting [see section 14(2) of O. Reg. 48/01].

Below you will find a chart prepared by our firm which summarizes the by-laws that can be passed by a majority of units present at a meeting, pursuant to the regulations:

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Based upon the clear language in section 56(10) of the Act and the regulations, we cannot agree that a by-law can be passed with the support of a majority of those units present at an owners’ meeting called for that purpose (unless the regulations specifically permit for a lower voting threshold). Rather, in order for a by-law to pass, a majority of all units within the corporation must vote in favour of it.

Accordingly, despite the existence of this case, it would be prudent for condominium corporations to continue to receive the support of a majority of all units within the corporation when attempting to pass a by-law, unless the regulations clearly prescribe a lower voting threshold for that type of by-law.

To Borrow or Not to Borrow? How Does the Process Work: Borrowing By-laws

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Photo by: Tom Reedy

We previously blogged about common myths regarding condominiums utilizing borrowing by-laws here https://ontcondolaw.com/2017/07/12/condo-financing-myths-debunked/

Condominiums have three ways to raise money

  1. Increasing monthly common expenses;
  2. Special assessment of owners; or
  3. Borrowing money from a lender.

As we noted condominiums typically use borrowing by-laws when they have to raise a substantial amount of money within a short period of time.

There can be a multitude of reasons a condominium may want to consider a borrowing by-law: an unexpected need to complete a major common elements repair/maintenance project before projected in the reserve fund, unexpected damage from a significant weather event (ex. the significant windstorm in southern Ontario in May 2018), or the desire to complete replacements related to a major common elements project (ex. installing new windows as part of a building envelope EIFS project). Continue reading

CAT says no to owner’s request to see email addresses

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Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

The CAT released a decision confirming that owners are not entitled to receive email addresses provided by owners and mortgagees to the corporation. The case includes an interesting review of the relevant provisions of the Act and regulations related to the record of owners and mortgages and the exceptions to the right to examine records. The full case can be found on CanLii: https://www.canlii.org/en/on/oncat/doc/2019/2019oncat9/2019oncat9.html?resultIndex=3

Some highlights include: Continue reading

Kitec – Don’t Forget the Deadline to Submit a Claim

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It seems like many years since the Ontario Superior Court of Justice entered an Order for Approval of Class Action Settlement back on November 29, 2011 and the Kitec Settlement Agreement (“Kitec Settlement”) for defective plumbing systems became effective way back on January 9, 2012.

I suppose 7 years is a long time depending on how you look at things, especially as discussions about Kitec have also seemingly faded into the background at industry events in recent years as new hot button topics  such as amendments to the Condominium Act, 1998, cannabis legalization, and electronic vehicles have all arisen.

We last wrote about Kitec in March of 2017 reminding condominiums the first step should be to contact their engineer to determine if the condominium has a Kitec plumbing system, then filing a claim and/or consulting the Condominium’s lawyer. You can read the post here: https://ontcondolaw.com/2017/03/07/kitec-piping-claims/

So here again is a friendly reminder for condominiums in Ontario that the deadline to submit a claim form to be eligible to be included in the Kitec Settlement is fast approaching: January 9, 2020.

You can find the claim form, information regarding the case/settlement, and FAQs here:  http://www.kitecsettlement.com/index.cfm

Finally, just a few key reminders about completing the claim form and providing supporting documentation to file a claim:

  1. Complete the whole form – if sections/questions are inapplicable remember to note “N/A”
  2. Make sure to provide copies of invoices and cancelled cheques for plumbing services . My understanding is banks can be quite slow to provide old archived cheques to the condominium so make sure to get on this request quickly.
  3. If possible – provide a sample of a failed Kitec fitting and an engineering report to support the condominium’s claim; and
  4. Finally, if the condominium has suffered numerous plumbing failures over the years it may be best to complete one comprehensive claim. Already made a claim but the condominium has suffered further plumbing failures? Submit a new claim. Organizational Tip: Use a spreadsheet to track the cancelled cheques and plumbing invoices to be submitted with the claim.

Condo in a Condo

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Our firm represents a growing number of condominiums that are units (or more commonly parcels of tied land) within larger condominium communities. Layer upon layer of condominium. The top layer is often a common elements condominium. The other layer could be high-rises, a cluster of townhouses, single-detached homes, or a combination of them all! As long as the developer complies with the requirements of the Act and its regulations (and other pieces of legislation) the condominium concept can be used in some very unique ways. Continue reading

Lessons from the CAT

legal caseOn April 5, 2019 I attended the ACMO / CCI 1-day Conference in Kitchener. I was asked to speak during the round table discussions and on the legal panel. My topic for the round table discussion was the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT). Today I thought that I would share some of the lessons that we have learned so far from the CAT’s first twenty or so decisions. Continue reading

Loss of Quorum on the Board

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Many condominiums struggle to find enough candidates to fill the positions on their board. Other condominiums have a hard time keeping directors on the board after their election. Whatever the reason, there are times when a condominium may not have enough people to fill all positions on the board. What’s a condominium to do? This post will describe some of the legal obligations on the condominium and directors. It also includes some possible solutions to attract more candidates and keep directors once elected to the board. Continue reading