Right of Access to Condo Records

Owners have the right to see and obtain nearly all the corporation’s records with the exception of personal information, employees’ records, and ongoing litigation. Personal information is deleted before records are shown or given to an owner: This is particularly the case for minutes of board meetings.

Yet, 33% of the 2,081 letters (or 686 letters) received between July 2009 and the end of December 2012 are from owners who have been denied access to simple condo records to which they have the right or have been charged an exhorbitant fee. In addition, requests to see documents too often result in owners being subsequently mistreated by managers and boards--and even receiving threatening letters from condo lawyers.

Owners’ requests to view documents or to obtain copies should be accepted as the normal situation it is and the right it is. In too many cases, owners are treated as if their request was outrageous or, yet, it is taken as a personal insult that leads to open warfare. 

How To Obtain Documents

Owners wishing to examine a recent monthly financial statement, board minutes, or AGM minutes should simply write a request to view such documents in the office or obtain a photocopy.

Requests should first be addressed to managers. There may be a small fee for photocopying and manager’s time. Fees depend on number of pages. But fees should be reasonable and owners can object if a fee is unrealistically high.

If managers do not respond within 2 weeks, then the request should be made to the board, including a copy of the letter already sent to the manager. If another two weeks elapse without a reply, then another letter should follow stating the owner’s intent to bring the matter to a Small Claims Court (at least in Ontario).

The Ontario Condo Act clearly states that, when access to records is denied, the condo corporation has to pay a penalty of $500 to the owner.

As mentioned earlier, since first writing this website, many owners have complained about being denied access to documents, or being charged outrageous sums by a manager or a board. To read some of these letters, please click on Issues of Owners' Right to Information.

However, an owner who requests to see records dating back several years will impose a great deal of work on the manager. And it is not certain that a Small Claims Court judge will be as sympathetic to an owner’s cause in such a case. The cost for locating all this material, however, cannot be charged to the owner--the charge is only for photocopying.

Finally, it is difficult to predict how the Court will approach the case of an owner who returns for the 3rd or 4th time with a similar request within a year or two even if the owner has to keep returning because, in his or her condo, no information is ever posted. (In such situations, owners would be better off with a better board.)

As well, there is a possibility that the manager and/or the board may act vindictively after such a little Court excursion. And, at this point, there is nothing or no one responsible for protecting owners in this situation. (Click here for Condo Act Changes That Are Absolutely Necessary)

It might be more appropriate if a “repeat” owner requests to receive all monthly financials from now on, for instance. The manager simply prints out an additional copy each time—and each time at a reasonable cost to the owner. Or, preferably, these documents could be emailed at a small cost.

Indeed, with email so prevalent, requested documents could simply be sent as attachments. The cost of doing this should be minimal: a few seconds of an administrator’s time and no photocopying fees.