Condominium property owners and boards of directors throughout Ontario are working to find better ways to communicate with condo unit owners to streamline processes and ensure resident satisfaction while staying on budget.
Ontario's Condominium Act Review, originally launched in 1998 and updated in 2013. Over time the findings raised several important matters related to condo governance, such as:
- Many condo owners do not feel a connection via meaningful communication with their boards and building managers.
- Some condo board of director members and bodies lack proper training to effectively communicate with condo owners need and can use additional training and support to foster the necessary communication.
- Condo owners report that they know very little about the decisions made by board members on their behalf and in their interests and would like to understand why and how decisions are made.
- Condo owners desire and increasingly call for more transparency and accountability from condo boards.
- Fewer condo owners attend condo community meetings by proxy or in-person, leaving them with even less access to information.
There is a Threshold for Passing Condo By-Laws
Under the act, there are certain regulations that provide condo board members with a transition period. During that transition period, condo corporations could change their existing by-laws to feature a lower threshold of required votes on a matter, thus enabling condo corporations to align their by-laws with the requirements of the new act.
The act continues to offer corporations flexibility to decide on term limits for their respective board of directors allowing condo corporations to include such decisions in their by-laws.
The Improvement of Communication With Condo Unit Owners
One of the overriding concerns throughout the review process is the issue of improving communication and education in condo communities. The amendments require board members to broadcast regular information on topics specific to the condo community, such as:
- The condo corporation's insurance
- Legal proceedings
- The names and addresses for service of the corporation's board of directors.
Regulations will lay out how often boards must issue such updates, while the act states that some updates would need to go out as "information certificates," which are similar to newsletters sent to condo owners at regular intervals.
Board Meetings Made Via Conference call
With some amendments, condo boards will no longer need to pass a by-law to allow for conference calls and similar off-site meeting technologies, making it easier for condo boards to hold regular meetings from remote locations. More regulations on this matter are forthcoming, and board members will need to agree to such circumstances.
The review findings concluded that condo board members have made arrangements for "kickbacks" on contracts, funneling money into their pockets on payments made to maintenance companies. Condo owners consider this matter a major concern and worth more investigation. The Stage 2 report concluded and recommended that the best practices and protection would be to take on a well-executed, sealed-bid, contract procurement process with results transparent to condo owners.
Preliminary Notice of Owners’ Meeting
A “preliminary notice,” dispatched by board members, for an upcoming meeting is a way to encourage condo owners to attend meetings to nominate candidates for director positions or to suggest items for a meeting agenda.
The amendment will support the continuation and increased use of this practice by requiring boards to provide a formal “preliminary notice” of a meeting of owners and should include:
- A call for anyone associated with the condo community who wishes to run for election as a director to notify the board in writing
- A call for materials, such as agenda items, from any condo owner who wishes to include those materials in the formal notice of the meeting
- A request for updated information regarding “non-leased voting units” in the event of a vacancy on the board in the position reserved for voting by the owners of those units
- Any other items set forth in the regulations
The board would only need to provide the included items required by regulation and would need to produce and transmit the preliminary notice at least 20 days before sending out the official meeting notice.
Meetings Requested By Unit Owners
One pillar of accountability in condo communities is the owners’ ability to call special owners’ meetings – known as requisitioned meetings – to address issues of concern, including proposals to dismiss board members.
Condo owners are allowed to call for special owners' meetings called "requisitioned meetings," which are used to addressed sensitive issues, such as proposals to dismiss board members. These meetings are part of the democratic process set to protect condo owners' rights in calling for board member investigations or removal when there is an overwhelming suspicion and sufficient evidence of acting outside of the condo owners' best interests. If 15% of condo owners sign the petition, or the requisition, the board must call for a meeting. The priority of the amendments are to protect condo owners with a process focused on clarity, speed, and fairness.
The amendments will also lay out procedures that the board would have to follow in the interests of transparency and communication to condo owners.
Condo owners should submit the requisition application on a standard form to minimize confusion about the process, which includes steps and time frames both owners and board members would need to follow.
Voting at Meetings
With the act, owners might feel more inclined to participate in meetings since they can vote at meetings cast electronically or by telephone.
Electronic Delivery of Notices
The act allows boards and owners to use electronic communication methods, such as emails and texts. The condo corporation would be required to keep a record of these communication methods.
Achieving Quorum at Meetings
The Stage 2 report expressed concern that many owners do not attend condo corporation meetings, making it difficult to achieve quorum, meeting the minimum attendance requirements.
The amendments will relax quorum requirements for mandatory meetings, allowing:
- Condo owners who own 25% of the units in the condo corporation on the first and second attempt.
- Condo owners who own 15% of the units in the condo corporation on the third attempt and any subsequent attempts.
A corporation could pass a by-law mandating a 25% quorum, regardless of the number of attempts to achieve quorum.
There are times when a condo owner wants to attend a meeting but cannot. If a condo owner cannot attend meetings but still wants to have a voice in the decision-making process, he or she may complete a proxy form, allowing another attendee to vote on the absent condo owner’s behalf.
Regulations under the act set out a new standard proxy form and provide recommendations to avoid tampering and misinformation in the proxy process.
Examination of Records
The Stage 2 report set three main goals for effective record-keeping by condo corporations:.
- Set clear requirements for how long any records must be kept
- Financial records for at least 6 years
- Other records as determined by regulations and by-laws
- Ensure that corporate records are easily accessible to anyone who needs them
- Ensure that personal privacy is protected and records are not used for inappropriate purposes
Regulations will set provide procedures:
- To request access to corporation records
- For a board’s responses to such requests
- Any fees for examining and copying corporation records
- All standard forms for such requests
Currently, in condo properties where at least 15% of units, known as “owner-occupied units," have gone unleased during a certain time, one position on the board must be reserved for election by the owners of these type of residential units only. Designed to ensure that owner-occupiers receive appropriate representation in buildings with varying degrees of occupancy. It also covers the renting population and absentee landlords. It ideally serves to protect the owner-occupier minority in largely rented buildings.
The reserved position is no longer mandatory and is only used when owners are the minority in the condo corporation.
Director Qualifications and Education
The review process found that many condo board directors lack adequate skills for the job, therefore, condo owners must comply with various conditions, such as training rules and disclosure requirements. The amendments establish such conditions and also ensure that director qualifications and disqualifications are consistent with other corporate statutes.
There Is a Simple Way to Comply With the Condominium Act Requirements
With MyCondoLink, you can enjoy better and more streamlined ways to facilitate communication between condo board members, condo unit owners, and building maintenance. With our software, you'll achieve and maintain consistent and simple compliance with the Condominium Act requirments without needing to refer to a complex document and series of rules and guidelines. We'll keep up with everything to ensure that everyone in your community stays on the same page.
Contact our team to learn more about our Aquarius software.