At what stage of a problem with a unit owner should the condominium corporation's lawyer be notified that a matter may be referred for legal advice?
It depends on the circumstances and the complexity of the issue. If it appears to be a unique situation and one that is not a clear case of simple enforcement of the rules or declaration, or if the unit owner has retained a lawyer, then it makes sense to put us on notice early that the matter will likely be forwarded to us for handling. The earlier we know about a potential problem, the better we can advise if further information is needed or if there are any recommendations that we can make in the meantime which could assist the condominium corporation's position down the road, if litigation ensues.
As a manager, how do I know if I should recommend to the board that a written legal opinion should be sought on an issue?
Obtaining a lawyer's opinion is a wise step for any issue on which the board has to make a decision and for which legal consequences may result. Having a written legal opinion can assist the board not only to chose the right path, but also to fulfil its obligations to act in accordance with a standard of care required by individual directors. A legal opinion provides the foundation on which the board can move forward with confidence that it has acted with the diligence and care required and, for many key issues, it will be important to have this opinion in writing on the corporation's record for reference in the future.
We understand that a manager may have to make the first move and determine whether or not to recommend to the board that it should seek a legal opinion. If you are unsure, give us a quick call and we will try to help with that preliminary question.
Who can request status certificates?
Any person can request a status certificate with respect to a unit in the condominium corporation.
What is the fee that the condominium corporation can charge for issuance of a status certificate?
The fee is currently fixed by regulation at $100.00 inclusive of GST.
What is the deadline for providing status certificates?
The Status Certificate must be provided within 10 days after receiving both the request and the prescribed fee.
Should our directors understand the contents of our status certificate?
A status certificate is the most important document issued by a condominium corporation. Accordingly, even if the condominium corporation’s management company issues them, it is imperative that the directors review and understand the provisions contained within the condominium corporation’s current status certificate as the condominium corporation is bound by the answers provided therein.
Must board meetings be called in writing?
Yes. The Condominium Act, 1998 requires that notice of a board meeting be in writing, however board members may waive this requirement either in advance for all meetings, or on a meeting by meeting basis.
Can board meetings be held by teleconference?
a. it is authorized by a by-law of the condominium corporation; and if,
b. all of the directors of the condominium corporation consent to holding the meeting in that manner.
Do unit owners have the right to attend board meetings?
No, unless the condominium corporation’s by-laws specify that the owners may attend. However, the board may to decide to allow owners to attend in certain circumstances.
How do you requisition a meeting of unit owners?
A requisition for a meeting of owners may be made by those owners who at the time the board receives the requisition, own at least 15 per cent of the units, are listed in the condominium corporation record of owners and who are entitled to vote.
The requisition must:
a. be in writing and signed by the requisitionists;
b. state the nature of the business to be presented at the meeting; and,
c. be delivered personally or by registered mail to the president or secretary of the board or deposited at the address for service of the corporation.
Please note that special rules apply if the purpose of the meeting is to remove a director.
When must our Annual General Meeting be held?
A condominium corporation’s Annual General Meeting must be held within 6 months of the condominium corporation’s fiscal year end.
Do unit owners have the right to approve the condominium corporation’s annual budget?
No. The board of directors sets the budget and is not required to consult the unit owner, although many condominium corporations have a “budget information meeting” where the upcoming budget is discussed on an information basis rather than an approval basis.
Can a condominium corporation use its reserve fund to finance general maintenance?
No. Under the Condominium Act, 1998, a reserve fund can only be used for the purpose of major repair and replacement of the common elements and assets of the corporation. A reserve fund cannot be used for general maintenance of the common elements.
Are directors entitled to be paid for acting as directors?
No, unless the corporation passes a by-law authorizing such payment. Such bylaw is only valid for three years and, therefore, if the corporation wishes to continue to pay its directors, a new by-law must be implemented every three years.
What is an improvement?
An improvement is determined by reference to the standard unit which may be described by:
a. passing a standard unit by-law; or,
b. if a by-law has not been passed, by reference to the declarant’s standard unit schedule, which is required to be provided for all condominium corporations created under the Condominium Act, 1998.
Do I need to purchase insurance coverage for my condominium unit?
Under the Condominium Act, 1998, a condominium corporation is obligated to secure insurance to cover the common elements and the standard units. Unit owners are responsible to insure any improvements made to their unit. Some condominium declarations require unit owners to maintain their own insurance, while others simply permit unit owners to do so.
If your condominium corporation was registered on or after May 5, 2001, the date the new condominium act was proclaimed, the builder should have provided the condominium corporation’s board of directors with a schedule setting out what constitutes a standards unit as part of the declarant’s turnover documents. Unit owners should bring this document to the attention of their insurer and be prepared to describe their particular unit’s features so that appropriate insurance coverage can be obtained.
If your condominium corporation was registered before May 5, 2001, you should ask the board of directors whether your condominium corporation has passed a standard unit by-law. If so, you should bring the standard unit by-law to the attention of your insurer to obtain appropriate coverage.
If your condominium corporation was registered prior to May 5, 2001 and your condominium corporation does not have a standard unit by-law, it may be the case that nothing will be considered an improvement (see D’Alessandro v. Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 43, 2006 CarswellOnt 6651).
Unit owners should also obtain insurance to cover personal property located in their unit.
I rent out my condominium unit. Should I advise the condominium corporation of my address for service?
Yes. Condominium corporations give notices required under the Condominium Act, 1998 to each owner who has notified the condominium corporation in writing of his or her name and address for service.
If a unit owner rents out his or her unit and has not notified the condominium corporation of his or her address for service, the unit owner will not receive any notices required to be given under the Condominium Act, 1998. It is therefore advisable to notify the condominium corporation of your address for service so that you receive all notices, including notice of owners’ meetings.
What happens if a unit owner does not pay his or her common expenses?
If a unit owner fail to pay his or her common expenses, the condominium corporation is entitled to place a lien on title to the unit in the amount of the arrears, together with all interest owing and all reasonable legal costs and reasonable expenses incurred by the corporation in connection with the collection or attempted collection of the unpaid amount.
Importantly, a lien for common expense arrears can be enforced in the same manner as a mortgage/charge of real property. This means that if a unit owner does not pay all amounts owing under the lien, the condominium corporation is entitled to sell the unit under power of sale.