Right to Information

Apart from access to douments, unfortunately, right to information in general is not exactly enshrined in the Ontario Condo Act. It’s a theoretical rather than a real one because all depends on management and boards’ willingness to inform and, hence, to be accountable to owners. In contrast, in British Columbia, the Strata Act mandates that, at the very least, the “council [board] must inform owners of the minutes of all council meetings within 2 weeks of the meeting.”

Owners have to feel empowered by managers and boards, not helpless and left in ignorance about what is going on, as is too often done. There is too much secrecy toward condo owners and there is no reason for this. Keeping issues secret is certainly not part of boards of directors’ duties or managers’ role. Quite the opposite!

Owners who seek information are often treated as if they were trespassers. Yet, this is their home. They own the place!

Lack of information from boards of directors and managers is the most frequent specific complaint made by readers. It is a widespread problem. In addition, as noted in Readers Respond, lack of communication and transparency from boards of directors is also generally a red flag for a multitude of other problems. Also see What Is a Good Board? 

Indeed, the best boards and managers inform owners on a regular basis. For instance, some condos have passed a set of rules regarding the comportment of boards. One of these rules states that boards have to post a report after each monthly meeting explaining important decisions reached. This report can also be used to explain how residents can help improve the performance of their building or townhouse complex.

In a few condos, minutes of board meetings are posted on bulletin boards (minus personal information regarding staff and residents). In others, monthly financial statements are posted.

In several condos, boards or managers have websites that are updated regularly. Unfortunately, these websites are time consuming and, as a result, many are discontinued. Other boards, or presidents, publish informative newsletters.

When a sizeable proportion of residents do not speak or read English fluently, it is a gesture of civility and good business to find someone who can volunteer to occasionally translate important notices in a particular language.  When as many residents as possible have access to useful information, they are more likely to cooperate. The condo will function more smoothly and money may be saved.

The following are notices that can each be posted once or twice a year in order to provide guidance on:

  • energy saving, including water
  • preventing drain backups
  • recycling and green bins
  • preventing accidents
  • keeping parking spaces free of automotive fluids
  • bicycle use and storage
  • odour prevention
  • pet behaviour
  • danger from stuff thrown from balconies