Is Charging for Wood Flooring Reasonable?

Gerry Hyman has written another article for the Toronto Star.  Let’s look at some of the questions raised:

QUESTION:  Is our board entitled to pass a rule requiring a $300, non-refundable payment in order for an owner to install wood flooring?

ANSWER:  A rule that permits wood flooring but requires a non-refundable payment would appear to be unreasonable and thus unenforceable.

Well, let’s slow down a bit here.  First, although a Board can pass a rule, the current Condominium Act requires that a rule will not take effect for at least 30 days so that the owners have the chance to requisition a meeting to vote on the rule.  Thus, the owners could requisition a meeting to vote down the rule if it chooses.  However, I do agree that this rule is not reasonable so is likely unenforceable if the issue goes to court.

Another question raised was:

QUESTION:  Our board is changing the colour of the exterior of our building as part of a refurbishment that will cost more than ten per cent of the budget. The board maintains that, under the Condominium Act, the consent of owners is not required for an expenditure out of the reserve fund. Doesn’t the change in colour mean that this is not a reserve fund expenditure but a substantial common element alteration requiring approval by a vote of two-thirds of the owners?

ANSWER:  No, the change in colour will not convert a necessary common element refurbishment into an alteration requiring a vote of the owners.

Here is a flaw in the Condominium Act.  Yes, a reserve fund expenditure would not need a vote of the owners.  However, we are talking about a paint job.  This will affect the appearance of the condominium.  I disagree with Mr. Hyman’s opinion that this is no an alteration – the condominium’s exterior will look different after the work.  Yes, it is not a major alteration, so the 66 2/3% approval is not mandatory, but the owners should still be given a choice over how their condominium will look after the paint job.

Cosmetic work, like painting or the renovation of common element hallways or lobby, should always have the input of owners.  And this is an area that the Condominium Act should be changed.  The Board, especially in a condominium over 100 units, represents only a very small portion of the residents of the condominium and should not have total control over the cosmetic appearance of the condominium.  Yes, some of this work is necessary to maintain the condominium, but this does not mean that the input of the owners should not be considered.

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