Condo Act amendments increase burden on all parties: Loeb
By Kathy Rumleski, AdvocateDaily.com Contributor
While the recent amendments to Ontario’s Condominium Act may have been initiated to make life easier for unit owners and condo corporations, they have ended up creating more challenges for all involved, says Toronto condominium lawyer Audrey Loeb.
“We now have an Act that is just enormous. On the issue of regulation-making power alone, there are 666 references. I would like life to be easier for people, not more complex,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com.
When it comes to condo managers, the province has increased their burden exponentially, says Loeb, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP.
“I don’t know how managers are going to be able to work through all of the amendments,” she says.
Loeb says boards often end up micromanaging because property managers are dealing with so many issues. Any time there is new legislation, growing pains are to be expected, but for some condominium dwellers it will be difficult to navigate, she adds.
Seniors who aren’t computer literate and newcomers who are learning the language will particularly have difficulty, Loeb says.
“This is consumer protection legislation and it is staggeringly complicated,” she says.
Loeb says she hoped to see amendments to purchase and sale clauses that would provide better protection to buyers and condominium owners.
“Those issues were not dealt with. The condo owners in some cases are subsidizing developer-retained commercial spaces,” she says.
The City of Toronto also requires that some condo buildings include a portion of rental units and/or social housing, which changes the dynamics of a building, Loeb explains.
“It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just more complicated,” she says.
While communication has always been key among all parties involved in condominiums, Loeb says it’s especially important in consideration of the recent and ongoing legislative changes.
“We have always preached that communication is critical and our clients have come to appreciate this in recent months more than ever,” she says.
Loeb says condos have now become the fourth level of government, meaning that condo directors are the only people unit owners can reach so they end up dealing with multiple issues and listening to various needs.
“They can’t reach their counsellors or get their provincial member of parliament to provide some action. So, you’re not only a board member running a building, but you’re also a politician. That skill is key,” she says.
Condo meetings have also become more complex under the changes, Loeb says. For example, she points to the new proxy forms, which allow an owner to appoint someone to represent them at a meeting.
“For some reason, the government decided to remove the obligation in the Act for unit owners to vote for board members directly,” she says. "I think they thought they could pick it up in the proxy form and they didn’t.
“We’re now back to where someone can go and collect proxies and then fill them out with the names of the members they want on the board, something that traditionally has been a problem.”
Loeb says she has yet to go to a condominium meeting where the proxies have been properly completed.
Her advice for would-be owners is to consult a lawyer before purchasing a condo.
“There are many people who live happily in condos. But in some cases, people are angry because they don’t trust that they’re getting a fair shake. The legislation will probably work itself out and we will get something we can work with but so far it’s been frustrating.”