Changes to Ontario's Condominium Act - Dispute Resolution
Reforming the Act
The Province of Ontario has recently undertaken a comprehensive review of Ontario’s Condomium Act. The objective was to obtain suggestions and input which would then be used to reform and update the Act, which has been in effect since 2003 and which governs all condomiums in the province.
This was seen as necessary due to the growth of the condominium market. There are roughly 10,000 condominium buildings in Ontario, and roughly 700,000 condo units. With Toronto's real estate market on a tear in 2015, more and more first time buyers are making condo purchases, as it’s the only way many can get into the housing market.
The review process was an extensive, 18 month collaborative process, including the province as well as various stakeholders, such as condo owners, real estate developers, property managers and other experts. The public was also invited to attend sessions and participate.
Over 200 recommendations were received at the end of this comprehensive process.
One of the fundamental areas of concern to many condo owners, and which the proposed new Act hopes to address, is that of Dispute Resolution.
There is a feeling among many that there is a power imbalance when it comes to disagreements between condo boards and owners. The boards have the benefit of the Corporation’s management company and lawyer, while the owner normally represents themselves. At present, disputes are resolved first via mediation/arbitration, and if that fails, then via the courts. This can end up being very costly to owners.
The proposed legislation aims to provide a faster, less costly, expedited process for dispute resolution.
Proposed Solution – Independent Condo Authority
The recommendations include setting up a Condo Authority, which would:
- administer and manage education of condominium owners,
- handle dispute resolution through a Condo Authority Tribunal, which would resolve disputes via case management, mediation and adjudication. The Tribunal’s decisions will be binding and would be enforceable. It was proposed that the Tribunal would hear cases pertaining to enforcement of declarations, by-laws and condo rules, procurement processes, access to records, & procedures for requisitioning a meeting of owners
- educate condo directors,
- register condos,
- provide tools and cases to expedite disputes
- provide a comprehensive condo buyers guide with information on how corporations are governed, owners’ rights and responsibilities, care and maintenance of common elements & how owners can request an information meeting at any time
Funding for Condo Authority
In order to pay for this ‘body’ the following has been proposed:
- province will provide ‘seed capital’ or initial funding
- users of the service will pay a fee as and when they use it
- all condo corporations in the province will pay a small fee to support the service ($1/unit was proposed)
The comprehensive review also resulted in other recommendations including consumer protection for owners and purchasers, improved financial management of condos, more extensive training and licensing for condo managers (administered by a separate Licensing Body), as well as director training.
I participated in the review process and submitted my opinion on what changes should be made to the province. I’m happy to see that many of the changes that I proposed are in fact being considered. I look forward with interest to the new Act. It is imperative that condo owners in Ontario have better representation and rules to protect them.
Ram Rajendram is a Toronto Real Estate Broker with Century 21 Harves Realty Ltd., Brokerage. He sells condos & houses throughout the GTA & assists home & condo buyers with their purchasing needs. He is also a Canadian Chartered Accountant (CA) & holds a Bachelors Degree in Economics from the London School of Economics (LSE)