Real Estate

New rules for accessing condo records

By Mia Clarke, Associate Editor

Changes to the Condominium Act will affect the ability of condo owners to access records from corporations, Toronto real estate lawyer Joel Berkovitz writes in Condominium Manager magazine.

In fact, that may be the area most affected by the legislative changes contained in Bill 106, the Protecting Condominium Owners Act, 2015, says Berkovitz, a lawyer with Shibley Righton LLP.

“Up until now, the process by which owners requested and obtained (or were denied!) access to records has been unregulated,” writes Berkovitz.

He says the legislative changes establish new procedures, terms and forms.

Here are the highlights as outlined by Berkovitz:

  1. These documents are now defined as either “core records” or “non-core” records. Core records are fundamental documents such as the declaration, bylaws, rules, financial statements, meeting minutes and prescribed notices. If unit owners request electronic copies of core records, they must be provided free of charge within 30 days. Condominium corporations may have more time to deliver non-core records.
  2. Condominiums can charge for the cost of producing non-core records and for making copies of core records. But they can only charge for actual costs incurred by the corporation. Labour costs must be reasonable and copying/printing cannot exceed 20 cents per page.
  3. A new procedure for requesting these documents is being introduced. A formal request must be submitted to the board, which will have to issue a response indicating what they will provide and the estimated cost of production. The requester would then have to confirm which records they want and pay the fee. The time limit to respond and the amount charged the owner will depend on whether the record is core or non-core. A request is deemed abandoned by an owner if they don’t respond within 60 days, or if they don’t bring an application to the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) within six months of their initial request.
  4. Disputes can be brought before the CAT with the goal of streamlining the resolution process. The penalty for non-compliance with s. 55 of the Condominium Act has been increased from $500 to a maximum of $5,000.
  5. A minimum retention period for all records is being prescribed. Most operating and financial records must be kept for seven years, while fundamental documents (declaration, bylaws and rules, current agreements and insurance policies) must be kept indefinitely. These periods can be extended if the documents are part of a litigation matter or a records request.
  6. Information can now be stored either electronically or in hard copy. Electronic records will be acceptable if they can be reproduced and there is protection against their loss. Hard copies must be kept in a location “reasonably close” to the condominium or at the manager’s office.
  7. Bill 106 also identifies records that a corporation does not have to provide. For example, owners don’t have a right to the email addresses of other owners, opinions from legal counsel, and any portion of a ballot that identifies the owner or a proxy.

Berkovitz says it’s a good time for condominiums to update how they maintain records.

“We recommend that all core records be stored electronically so they can be quickly and easily provided to unit owners,” he says.

Corporations should consider storing commonly requested documents on an owners' portal or a closed website, says Berkovitz. That way, owners will have direct access, thereby eliminating the need to request them.

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