Moving into/Out of a Condominum

Gerry Hyman has another article.  Let’s discuss it:

QUESTION: We have a rule prohibiting moves in or out of a unit on weekends. The board passed a policy at a board meeting specifying that moves would be allowed on weekends. Could they do that without amending the existing rule?

ANSWER: The board must pass a new rule amending the existing rule. The new rule must be sent to the owners with a notice advising that, within 30 days, owners of 15 per cent of the units may requisition a meeting to vote on the rule. The new rule is effective if a requisition is not received within the 30 days or if the rule is approved at a requisitioned owners’ meeting.

It is reasonable for a condominium, especially a highrise, to want to limit the hours someone can move.  But at the same time this situation should not be too limiting as to make it hard for residents to move in and out of the condominium, especially for people who work during the week and cannot afford to take a day off work to move.  However, this does not mean that other residents need to be overly annoyed or disturbed.

QUESTION:  My written request to the board to see an invoice for common element landscaping was refused on the basis of the Privacy Act. Was that justified?

ANSWER:  You are entitled to examine all records of the corporation other than those relating to actual or pending litigation or insurance claims affecting the corporation, or those relating to the corporation’s employees, other owners and units.

The obvious next question is why does the Board not want to provide this information?  Plus, the exceptions quoted by Mr. Hyman are found in the Condominium Act, not the Privacy Act.  However, if the Board does not want to provide a copy of this invoice suggests that there is something more to the issue.  I’d strongly suggest that the writer contact the condominium’s Auditor and request that the Auditor look into this issue any way (i.e. the Board refusing to provide a copy.)

QUESTION:  Our corporation has issued a special assessment to replenish the reserve fund due to major expenditures for common element repairs. Owners have been assessed on the basis of each owner’s percentage of the corporation’s common expenses. Wouldn’t a more equitable approach be for all owners to pay the same amount by dividing the assessment by the number of units? The common element repairs benefit all owners equally.

ANSWER:  Each owner must pay a share of the corporation’s common expenses and reserve fund contributions based upon that owner’s contribution percentage as set out in a schedule to the declaration. Owners who buy larger or more expensive units should be aware that they likely have a larger common expense contribution than owners of less expensive units.

Common element repairs or replacements rarely benefit all owners equally. Repairs to a swimming pool are of little benefit to someone who never uses it. Elevator repairs do not greatly benefit a person residing on the ground floor. An owner without a car has little interest in underground garage repairs.

Each owner, however, knows or should know before purchasing a unit that they will be required to contribute the stipulated percentage of all common expenses and reserve fund contributions. An owner of a one-bedroom unit will likely not find it equitable if required to contribute the same amount as the owner of a three bedroom penthouse.

My. Hyman’s response is a bit over simplified in my opinion.  Depending on the work, the owner is likely correct that it benefits everyone equally.  Even a swimming pool benefits everyone equally, as any resident can use it, and it helps to maintain the overall value of all the units.  However, unless the sizes of each unit varies greatly, I have never agreed with the ‘square foot method’ for dividing up costs to be fair.  A garage might not be used by a specific owner, but the owner rents out his or her parking spot then he/she benefits from work on the garage (i.e. continued rental income.)  Plus, many costs are incurred regardless of the size of the unit – such as cable T.V., management fees, the Auditor’s fees, the lawyer’s fees, or work done to much of the common elements.

Also, in this case, we do not know what the work was.  For example, renovations to the main lobby is a benefit that is equal for everyone.  And the owner on the ground floor did not have to purchase that unit, and may still use the elevator to get to the garage, or to visit friends in the condominium.  Plus well maintained elevators look good and help to maintain the values of all the units.

QUESTION:  Our board asked the property manager to send letters to owners who were behind in their common expense payments. The property manager refuses to provide copies of those letters to the board, even though they are on the board’s behalf, citing the Privacy Act. Is he right?

ANSWER:  No. There is no basis for the property manager to withhold the letters from the board.

The Board should insist that the property manager provide them with copies of the letters.  If the property manager again refuses to, then a complaint should be filed with both the property management company and the Association of Condo Managers of Ontario (ACMO.)  The Board should tell the property management company that either the property manager produce copies of these letters on request (which are property of the condominium, not the manager) or request that the manager be replaced.  The Board should remind the property management company that failure to take either action will force the Board to replace the property management company.  The Board should not accept this obvious incompetence from the property manager.

About Edward Brain

I am a long time condo activist and have a background in Business Administration.
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