Changing the Condo Act to Strengthen Owners' Rights


Here are some highlights of Ontario's newly updated Condominium Act:


1. There will be some oversight....finally! We have needed this for a long time!

2. There will be a Condo Authority where owners and directors can get help in resolving problems online or  by phone. 

3.  This Condo Authority will include a "Tribunal" with the ability to offer mediation and make binding decisions, at minimum cost. Unfortunately, this Tribunal may operate only in an online format.

4.  There will be greater control over proxies, forms, and processes at AGMs and Requisitioned Meetings.

5.  Owners will now have easier access to all their condo's documents.

6.  This will include acces to a residential list showing where owners live; this will help those owners who are thinking of organizing a Requisitioned Meeting but don't know where other owners live.

7. The Authority could offer an online course for directors at minimal cost so that this course could be standard throughout the province. Hopefully, this course would emphasize owners' rights...

8.  One can presume that there will eventually be a Code of Ethics for directors.

9.  Beginning in the Fall of 2017, managers will be educated and licensed. Management companies will be regulated and accredited.

10. Noise issues are recognized in the new Act. Noise is one of the most frequently-encountered problems in condos.

11. Eventually, all condos will be registered with the Authority. This registry will allow all owners in the province to  know where condos are, who the managers and directors are. Other information on each condo could be provided.

However, because of ongoing pressure from the usual lobby groups who have a great deal of influence in the Liberal government, several gaps  remain in the new Act and, as seen above, some weaknesses have recently appeared.

   1. The sections on Financial Management still allow for the accumulation by boards of unchecked large surpluses. The recommendations by groups of owners that these be capped on a sliding scale depending on the size of budgets were rejected. This means that condo monies will remain subject to waste, unwarranted expenditures, and fraud.

    2.  Also rejected were the recommendations allowing owners more control over very large expenditures in the general budget as well as in the reserve fund. Therefore, the new Act leaves owners vulnerable financially.

   3. Owners should know the names of the contractors who bid on expensive projects, such as renovations of common elements, in order to discourage bid rigging and other illegal activities that are currently afflicting too many condos. At this point, there is still hope that the Regulations might allow for this type of information.

    4. This Act does not do much more than the previous one to protect owners against poor-quality coonstruction. The Building Code needs to be seriously improved.

5. There is still no framework for the role that condo lawyers play. Currently, a powerful minority of condo lawyers too often end up defending bad boards and managers against helpless owners, and they do so at owners' expense--paid by the corporation! Yet, these lawyers are supposed to represent the interests of the entire condo corporation. But, hopefully, the presence of the Condo Authority will mitigate this problem.

6. The Act is still in legalese rather than English and the Regulations are still being written, leaving in some places too much room for "creative" mischief on the part of the lobby groups. In other words, because of the Regulations, some of the sections in the Act could go against owners...again!

7.   We will have to wait for the Regulations to see if the various condo Declarations will be written in a manner that owners can understand them without having to ask an expert or having recourse to the new Condo Authorty.

8. Finally, another drawback is that the Act is not likely to come into effect until later in 2017 and in 2018 in its most complicated (and helpful) aspects. A long time for owners to wait. But it is possible that the government will allow parts of it (condo governance sections) to come into effect sooner. In the meantime, it would be very "nice" if managers, boards of directors, and condo lawyers began applying the spirit and ethics of the new rules that will be in effect to protect condo owners' rights and enhance their well-being. But, so far, the hundreds of letters received indicate that this is not happening.





What do Condo Owners need? (written in 2010)

They need a new Condo Act that

offers oversight,

provides effective enforcement,

offers a place where owners and boards can get justice,

and provides accountability with consequences for non-compliant boards, managers, owners, lawyers and builders.

In other words, the new Act should not be self-regulated because this is where the current Act has failed.

Owners need an institution that protects them effectively and at minimal costs, such as a Condo Review Board, or an Ombudsman Office, or a Condo Office--free of political intervention and of conflicts of interest from the various condo industries.


If you want to know more about changes to the Condo Act that would the most helpful to owners, please click on the section below.