You’ll probably remember this story that broke in Ontario several months ago: Condo clash: Owners push out serial board members who didn't live in the building . If you’re not familiar with it, the story tells of four condo board members were elected to boards despite the fact they did not own condos in the buildings in questions. As board members, they were able to influence the way in which the condos spent their budget and reserve fund.
Ontario Condo Act had major loopholes
In the months following, condo owners began to realize there were some major loopholes in the Ontario Condo Act. Among other things, they learned that a person could sit on a condo board – even if they didn’t own or rent in the building.
Changes to the way in which condominium boards are governed
It came as no surprise when we learned the Ontario government had announced a series of changes to the way condominium boards would be governed. New Ontario condo laws target boards and directors.
Among the new requirements: that board directors must disclose if they are not owners or occupiers of a condo.
But that’s not all...
What changes have been made to the Ontario condo board act?
Other changes being implemented include:
- Regular mandatory updates about a condo corporation to help improve communication between boards and owners.
- Mandatory training for condo directors.
- Clearer rules to make it easier for condo owners to access records.
- New notices, quorum and voting rules to make it easier for owners to participate in owners' meetings.
- Mandatory education requirements for condo managers applying for a general licence.
Is my condo board following the rules?
If you’re wondering whether your condo board is operating in a trustworthy manner, or if you want to get a better idea as to how your condo works, here are a few tips that may help:
Find out who runs the place
Who is managing the property? Is the property manager reputable? Are they experienced? Are they available to you and accountable for his actions?
What about the board of directors? Do you know who is on the board? Are they doing a good job of overseeing the property manager?
Make sure you can access information easily
Does your condo board store its documentation somewhere that you can easily access it? Are the condo board minutes stored online? Are you able to easily find details related to your reserve fund? Does your condo offer a password protected website to all owners?
Communicate with the board
If you’re a board member, make sure residents can easily communicate with you. Sign up for a condo web application and include contact details on it.
If you're not a board member, find ways to get involved. Read the minutes of each board meeting. Ask your board to look into condo web applications – like the one offered by estrata.ca.
Attend meetings when you can. Carve out some time to attend your condo’s AGM. Make suggestions at meetings or by using the suggestion tool on your estrata.ca website. Suggestions are much more likely to be heard and addressed when they’re made formally.
Make sure your condo board is dealing with professionals
Ontario’s condo market has exploded in recent years. According to Tom Wright, board char at the Condominium Authority of Ontario, in Ontario today, 1.6 million people are living in condos, and there are 700,000 condo units in Ontario.
Condos have become complex entities over the years, so it’s important to ensure your condo board is dealing with professionals in their respective industries (i.e. lawyers who understand the updated condo regulations, engineering firms who are experienced when it comes to preparing and reviewing your reserve fund study and companies like estrata.ca who understand the importance of secure record keeping).
Looking for information about Ontario's new condo regulations? The following links may give you a good starting point.
The Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO) . The CMRAO is a new regulatory body whose oversight will protect consumers, strengthen the profession and give condo owners confidence in the people and companies that manage their important investment.
The Condominium Authority of Ontario. The Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) is a newly established legislative authority created to improve condominium living in Ontario.
The Condominium Authority of Ontario – Record keeping. As a condo unit owner, you have a right to access certain records about how your condo corporation is run and managed. Learn how estrata can help.