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Living in a Condo

Because condos include common areas, as well as individually owned units, condos need a way for owners to make decisions about matters that affect all owners and to take care of common areas.

All the unit owners together form a condo corporation. The condo corporation makes decisions at meetings of the owners. The condo corporation also elects a board to deal with the day-to-day running of the condo.

The Corporate Registry oversees condominium corporations. Condo corporations are required to file returns yearly and to update their information with the corporate registry if there are changes.

Condo Corporations

The corporation is responsible for running the condominium. It is responsible for the upkeep of the common areas and taxes on the common areas. Owners must allow the corporation access to their unit if it is needed to repair or maintain a common area.

The condominium corporation is also responsible for insuring much of the condominium property. The corporation must have insurance that covers all the units and the common areas against things like damage caused by fire, wind or hail. However, owners need their own insurance for their contents, any improvements they make to their units, and personal liability. Owners can make a request in writing for a copy of the corporation’s insurance policy. That way, they can ensure that their individual condo package provides adequate coverage.

Bare land condo corporations are not required to carry insurance if each unit is a stand-alone dwelling. In these types of condos owners typically buy a piece of property from a developer who has acquired land for condo development and build their own house on it. You can look at the condo plan to determine if your condo is a bare land condo.

Bylaws

The corporation can make rules, called bylaws, about how the condominium will be run. Bylaws deal with the management of the condo, as well as the use of common areas and individual units. Bylaws set the amount of condo fees and the amount owners must contribute to the reserve fund. Owners can ask to see the bylaws.

The condo can pass a bylaw or change a bylaw at any meeting of the owners. Two-thirds of the unit owners voting must be in favour of the bylaw for it to pass. Bylaws and any changes must be filed with the corporate registry. Bylaws are not in force until they have been filed. The corporate registry reviews bylaws to make sure they do not include
provisions that are not allowed.

If an owner breaks a bylaw, the corporation can take the owner to Small Claims Court. They can ask for money to compensate for damages caused by the owner breaking the bylaw, costs of enforcing the bylaw, and a penalty of up to $500. The total amount that can be claimed in Small Claims Court is currently $30,000.

There are standard bylaws that apply to all condos. A condo corporation can, however, decide to pass their own bylaws to deal with these matters.

The standard bylaws require owners to not…

  • cause a nuisance or a hazard
  • make excessive noise
  • do anything that could increase the insurance premiums the corporation has to pay
  • block any path, driveway or parking areas
  • leave things in the common area
  • display anything the Board considers unsightly if it can be viewed from outside the unit

Corporations can also choose to make their own rules about things like…

  • pets
  • storing items on balconies
  • hours of operation for a common facility (for example laundry or recreation)
  • smoking in units
  • whether a business can be operated in a unit
  • size and types of vehicles that can be parked (for example RV parking may not be allowed)

Corporations cannot pass bylaws that:

  • change the requirement that bylaws must pass by 2/3 majority
  • stop candidates or their representatives from entering the property
  • restrict election advertising in or on individual units (there can be reasonable restrictions on the size and type)
  • stop owners from renting their places out (owners must notify the corporation that they want to rent their place and corporations can require the owner to pay a security deposit in case the renter causes damage to a common area.)
  • prevent or restrict owners from selling or mortgaging their place
  • say no children or families
  • place age restrictions on who can buy or rent a condo
  • restrict owners’ right to vote at condo corporation meetings (unless they are not up-to-date with their condo fees)
  • set the fee for an Estoppel Certificate at more than $200

The Board

The owners choose a Board. When a condominium is first created there is a meeting of the owners. The owners decide how many people they want to have on their Board by passing a bylaw. If the owners do not pass their own bylaw about this then there must be 3 -7 people on the Board.

The owners elect Board members by majority vote, unless they have passed a bylaw that sets out a different way. Half of the first Board elected holds office for two years and the other half holds office for one year. After that Board members are elected every year by the owners to serve for two years unless this is changed by a bylaw of the condo corporation. Under the standard bylaws Board members must be at least 18, not owe money for condo fees, not be bankrupt and not have been convicted of a serious criminal offence.

The Board runs the corporation on behalf of the owners. The Board also deals with day-to-day issues like collecting condo fees, hiring people to maintain common areas and paying bills. The Board maintains the financial records that show how condo fees have been spent. Owners can ask to see these records. The Board must keep minutes of their meetings. Owners can make a request in writing for a copy of the minutes of Board meetings. Owners can ask for the names and addresses of Board members.

The Board decides things by majority vote unless the condo corporation has passed a bylaw that changes this. Unless it has been changed by a bylaw a Board can also make decisions by a written resolution signed by all members of the Board.

For the Board to make decisions at a meeting there must be a minimum number of the Board members at the Board meeting. The minimum number depends on how big the Board is. If the Board has 4 or fewer people on it, at least 2 Board members need to be at the meeting. If the Board has 5 or 6 members, 3 must be present. If the Board has 7 members, 4 must be present. Bylaws may be amended to change these requirements.

Meetings

Condo corporations make decisions about the running of the condo at meetings of the owners. When a condominium is first created there will be a meeting of all the owners. A Board will be elected. After that, the Board must call a meeting of all the owners every year. The Board can also call meetings at other times.

25% of the owners can request that the Board call a meeting. The request must be in writing and must state what will be discussed at the meeting. A bylaw can change when and how owners can call a meeting.

Owners must be notified of the time and place of any meeting and what decisions will be made at the meeting. This notice must be in writing and owners need to get it at least 7 days before the meeting. Owners are not required to attend.

The Board gives the notice of the meetings to the owners, runs the meeting and keeps minutes of these meetings. At the yearly meeting, the Board must present the financial records for the year to the owners. The Board can also suggest bylaws for the owners to vote on and approve. Members of the Board are also elected at these meetings.

Minutes must be kept of these meeting. Owners must be given a copy of these minutes if they make a request in writing.

For decisions to be made, at least 25% of the owners need to attend the meeting. The meeting must be adjourned for one week if there are not enough owners present. If there are still not 25% of the owners at the adjourned meeting, the owners who are there can make decisions.

Voting

At these meetings the owners decide things by voting. In most cases each unit will have one vote. Usually, the majority of the units voting need to be in favour for something to pass. The owners of a unit may not be allowed to vote if they are behind on their condo fees. A unit can have someone else vote for them. They do this by giving that person a proxy.

Corporate Registry Filing

Condo corporations can use the online Corporate Registry Application to provide the required information and updates to their information. To do this the condo must have an account with the corporate registry. Alternatively the required forms can be downloaded, completed and returned to the corporate registry.

The names of Board members, any bylaws that have been passed and the address where official documents can be sent must be provided to the corporate registry. Changes to any of these things must also be reported.

Annual Returns

Every condo corporation must file an Annual Return with the corporate registry each year. The corporate registry will send the Annual Return to the condo corporation at least a month before it is due. It will be sent by email if the corporation has registered an email address otherwise it will be mailed out.

If you have a corporate registry account you can file your Annual Return online by choosing `file your Annual Return or renewal`.

Tips for Condo Living

  • Stay Informed – The law gives you the right to financial information (about things like how condo fees are spent), minutes of Board and owners’ meetings and access to the bylaws.
  • Get Involved – As an owner you have the right to attend meetings where decisions are made, vote for the Board and run for the Board.
  • Remember Your Options – If you disagree with something, you can bring it to the attention of the Board or raise it at an owners’ meeting. You can even call an owners’ meeting if you get the support of at least 25% of the owners. Although you have the right to raise issues and vote on questions, it is important to remember that most decisions are based on what the majority wants. You may need to be prepared to live with some decisions you may not agree with.

If matters cannot be resolved there are a number of options for dispute resolution, including mediation, arbitration (having a third party decide) and court applications.

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