Change is coming. The Ontario Condominium Act, which is expected to go into law at the end of 2016, will bring fundamental change to the way condos in Ontario are governed.
Bill 106, also know as the Protecting Condominium Owners Act, 2015, is a groundbreaking set of laws. It is being hailed as one of the most advanced laws regarding condominium governance anywhere in the world.
So often, though, laws are enacted, and don’t have any real consequence for most of us. The Ontario Condominium Act is different; it offers legal protection to condo owners and is written with modern realities in mind.
Here are 10 actions the Ontario Condominium Act will put in place to change condo governance, and how you can prepare for the coming changes.
1. Prepare to register with a newly established condo authority
An administrative department will administer condo corporation registry. This administration will collect a registry of all condo corporations and condo boards.
The Condo Authority will be able to resolve disputes in more reasonable time frames and without expensive legal fees.
For property managers, you will need to prepare a document with the names and contact information of your condo board members and any corporate ownership and management to submit to the condo authority.
2. Study new regulation regarding document delivery
The Ontario Condominium Act will impose regulation on how important condominium documents can be delivered. Disclosure statements, status certificates, and material change notices will all be monitored under this regulation.
Getting ahead on this will give you time to ask questions and determine best practices for compliance.
3. Develop a dedicated condo website
This section of the Ontario Condominium Act will require condo developers to post proposed documents, corporation by-laws, community rules, and other key documents. This will help prospective buyers understand what to expect from a condo community still under construction.
As a property manager, you can get ahead on this by developing a website for your managed properties that includes the required information.
4. Prepare more frequent and detailed communications on financial matters
Part of a thriving condo community is knowing what the corporation finances are like. The new law will require improved communication to condo owners regarding the corporation budget, and will place a limit on the increase in fees.
Condo corporation boards and property managers can begin planning for communications to include updated information on insurance, budget expenses, additional expenses not addressed in the budget, and contact information for the condo board and property management group.
5. Prepare communication updates to improve how condos are run
Communication is key to a healthy condo community. However, many condo owners don’t feel they know enough about decisions and activities that have a direct impact on their lives and living conditions.
New regulations would work to improve transparency through required regular updates from the condo board.
For property managers and condo boards, this can be an extension of communications on financial matters. Because many owners can’t or don’t attend meetings, an information certificate similar to a newsletter will need to include detailed proceedings from corporation meetings, especially regarding any decisions that affect condo owners.
6. Make board meetings easier to attend with virtual attendance
One frequent problem with condo corporation board meetings is the time and geography of attending. Condo board members can’t always be physically present for meetings.
The Ontario Condominium Act would allow conference call meetings, making it easier for board members to attend and to hold meetings on a regular schedule.
7. Plan for advanced notice of corporation meetings
Although most condo boards do provide notice of meetings, the new law will formalize the process, encouraging owners to attend meetings, to nominate and vote for condo board positions, and to add items to the corporation meeting agenda.
The Act will provide for a minimum of 20 days’ notice for corporation meetings. You can begin planning for this now by scheduling alerts in your calendar, and setting up a template to streamline the process.
8. Use technology to improve voting procedures
The technology we have today makes it possible and sometimes preferable to vote electronically. These new laws would give condo corporations the option to allow condo corporations to vote electronically or by telephone.
Since this law would extend voting opportunities to condo owners who can’t be present, you will need to decide on the best way for absent owners to vote.
9. Modernize notice delivery with electronic software
This section of The Act would give owners the option of receiving electronic communications from the condo board and the condo corporation. Notices could be sent through email or other electronic means.
Again, you can begin researching the best way for your management team to deliver notices electronically. This should be fairly straightforward as long as you have the email addresses of the condo owners. If not, you can begin collecting them and checking in to make sure they are up to date.
10. Determine how your corporation wants to streamline quorums
Low attendance is one difficulty in voting for major changes or board positions at condo corporation meetings. This section of the new law would change the quorum requirement to 25% of condo owners. That percentage can be lowered to 15% if the board has to make three or more attempts to achieve a quorum at a meeting.
This is optional, however, so you will want to discuss with your corporation how they feel about lowering the quorum to 15%. Some corporations may prefer to keep the quorum minimum at 25%.
Open, transparent communication is good for owners, board members, property managers, and condo corporations. For owners, this law provides legal protection and a path to more opportunities for involvement.
For board members, property managers, and condo corporations, the new laws increase the ease with which you can communicate with condo owners, and also provide a framework for helping condo owners feel included.
You can read the full Ontario Condominium Act on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website.
Are you preparing for the Ontario Condominium Act? Are you wondering where to begin? Then you should know that Evercondo facilitates quick and useful communication between condominium property managers, the condo corporation board, and condo residents. We also enhance the condo experience for residents and managers alike.
What do you think about the Ontario Condominium Act? Do you think it will provide a path to more involvement for condo owners? Let us know in the comments.