The Condominium Act of Canada was last revised in 1998. Over this 12 year period, Canada has witnessed an exponential growth in the condo market, especially in the GTA.
Condos today make up half of all new homes in the province. With so many condo communities mushrooming up, there was a dire need to over haul the condominium act.
There are over 9,000 residential condominium corporations managing some 589,000 residential condos in Ontario. This number is growing by the day.
Now consumers have much to look forward to in the revised Condominium Act.
In the case of Condominium Act overhaul, the Government went to the people first.
At each stage of the review, condo owners, residents, and other interested groups identified issues and suggested recommendations to help ensure the Condominium Act reflects current and future needs. The review is predominantly held in three stages.
In the first stage, the public was asked to bring issues and ideas to the table. In the second stage, people with expertise in tackling condominium issues (including condo residents) reviewed the findings from stage one and developed a report of over 100 recommendations to resolve them. More than 1,000 people submitted feedback on the report. The review is currently in its third stage involving roundtable sessions across Ontario.
I happened to attend one such session. At this stage, the condo residents were given the opportunity to discuss the recommendations from stage two.
The government will further review both the feedback gathered at these roundtable discussions as well as the comments from the public on the solutions report. They will then proceed to use this feedback for drafting the new Condominium Act.
The participants were hand-picked from a broad cross section of interests. These groups have sought to achieve the widest possible agreement and formulate recommendations for action.
Each group focused on one of these five areas:
- Consumer protection
- Financial management
- Dispute resolution
- Condominium management.
Panel members were selected from their expertise in key areas such as consumer protection, engineering, condo development, finance, and condo management.
Now hold your breath and expect some of the exciting amendments in the New Condominium Act below.
Please note, these are recommendations only and the final decision on revisions rests on the Government.
Current Condominium Act: Earlier, consumers were told to have a clear understanding of what they were buying.
New Condominium Act: Now the experts recommend a Condominium Guide that will clearly state essential facts about condo living. The Condominium Guide will be a Standard Declaration to educate purchasers and owners about important information on condo property and the corporation. There will be a prohibition on deferring operating expenses such as elevator maintenance which can leave consumers with the mistaken impression that their monthly fees will remain at a certain level when they are actually scheduled to rise. Builder will be asked to make better disclosures to purchasers, particularly on material issues to the corporation. Read what an expert condominium lawyer has to say about disclosure of information to purchasers by developers.
Current Condominium Act: Earlier, more transparent and accountable use of condo fees was agreed on. Getting financial statements was tough. Owners needed to be more aware of financial management and insurance needs.
New Condominium Act: Now two budgets are proposed – an operating budget and a reserve fund budget. Owners are expected to be notified of extra spending. The stress is now on simple, clear and improved communication on the condo corporation’s financial condition.
Current Condominium Act: The condo office and dispute resolution act is lengthy and difficult to understand. It is very difficult to resolve even a small dispute especially because both arbitration and court are very costly and time consuming.
New Condominium Act: There will be an easy to understand Condo Guide that will provide all information. The dispute resolutions office will take on more complex disagreements.
Current Condominium Act: The focus was on fair elections and clear proxy regulation to make it easier to requisition a special owner’s meeting. Decision making took time because of quorum regulations.
New Condominium Act: Now one can look forward to more qualified Condominium Board Directors with mandatory training for first-time members. Quorum requirements will be also be relaxed to a lower number for the first two meetings.
Current Condominium Act: Condominium managers and management firms were earlier expected to have the right qualifications for a job.
New condominium act: Now a two-stage licensing requirement program will be put in place to set basic criteria for entry into the profession and build knowledge in the field through course work and experience.