Canada's Condominium Magazine
New condo rules from the Ontario government promise to protect owners from the rare unscrupulous condo board – but may have the unintended effect of discouraging volunteer board members. [As previously reported (with full draft language) “New Condominium Owners Act Now Published” here>>]
New Condominium Authority of Ontario
As with any regulation that protects, the downside of the Protecting Condominium Owners Act is extra paperwork and accountability proceedures — which could be a burden for unpaid condo board members for each community. Along with the new Condominium Management Act, the Ontario government is ammending both the Condominium Act and the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. As is typical with Ontario regulatory bodies, a “tribunal board” will be available for disputes and complaints — in this case available online.
Although rare, past abuse (including forged signatures for board elections) triggered the new rules, which include:
- Disclosure: are board members actually owners or tenants?
- Disclosure: all conflicts of interest must be disclosed regarding any contracts undertaken by the condo community.
- Communication: updates will be mandatory between condo board and owners
- Rules: condo owner information and records will be available under specific conditions/rules.
- Owner participation: notices, voting rules and quorum rules make it easier for all owners to participate.
- Training: condo board directors will undergo mandatory training.
The chairman of the new Condominium Authority of Ontario, Tom Wright indicated the goal is to make board members more accountable to the condominium owners. New disclosure rules, especially, will inform owners “whether or not someone who is running for the board of directors is an owner or not,” said Mr. Wright. “They will know whether that person has any interest in any contracts. It’s much more visible.”
On one hand the tribunal will make it easier and faster for owners to complain and receive action; on the other, board activities and actions may slow in pace due to the extra rules for reporting. While it may not be an “overreaction” some consultants and lawyers worry the rules go too far to the opposite extreme. Also highlighted is the “lack of teeth” in the new rules in terms of actual enforcement.
Under previous rules, owners might have had to challenge any issues at their own expense — while at the same time funding (via their condo fees) the board’s opposition to their complaints. The new rules and the tribunal approach will make the process more open and accessible.
The mandatory training for new board members is seen as universally important. It is difficult for novice board members, new to the Condo board, to grasp all the duties and obligations and tasks required of them.