All condominium corporations created prior to the enactment of the Condominium Act, 1998 (“the Act”) should pass a standard unit by-law, if one is not already in place. For condominium corporations created after May 5, 2001 the declarant is required by the Act to deliver a schedule defining the standard unit. Although the Act does not require condominium corporations, whether new or old, to pass a standard unit by-law, the following article will discuss the benefits of passing one.
The purpose of defining a standard unit, is to identify what improvements (in the past also referred to as betterments), have been made to a unit. As noted, the standard unit can be defined by passing a by-law. Our form of standard unit by-law has the condominium corporation list the standard features. An “improvement” would be deemed to be any unit feature not listed in the by-law as forming part of the standard unit description. Once a standard unit by-law has been enacted, any unit feature that is not listed as forming part of the standard unit is considered to be an improvement.
Suppose a unit within your condominium corporation is damaged as a result of a fire, a flood, or some other major peril. In the absence of a standard unit by-law, is there a problem?
Without a standard unit description—be it by a by-law under s. 56 of the Act or a schedule under s. 43(5)(h) of the Act—a condominium corporation may not be able to deem a unit finish an improvement. In D’Alessandro v. Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 43, 2006 CarswellOnt 6651 the judge pointed out that the hardwood flooring in the applicant’s unit which was damaged and required repair, constituted an “improvement” to the unit since the standard finish in all units was carpeting. However, without a standard unit by-law in place, the condominium corporation was found liable to repair the unit as it existed on the date the damage occurred, and in this case with hardwood flooring. Situations such as this are unfair to the condominium community as a whole and can be avoided by passing a standard unit by-law clearly defining the “standard unit”. Additionally, a standard unit by-law can assist condominium corporations in determining their insurance requirements, and may help reduce conflicts between unit owners and condominium corporations with respect to who is responsible for what.
In order to protect all interests, we encourage you to review your standard unit by-law or schedule, to determine whether it clearly defines what constitutes a “standard unit”. Please contact Marco Graziani of our firm if you have any questions, require advice, or would like us to assist you in drafting a standard unit by-law for your corporation. You can contact Marco Graziani at (905) 760-1800 ext. 237 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
--with the assistance of Yalda Jalili, Junior Legal Assistant to Jonathan H. Fine--