Gerry Hyman has another article for the Toronto Star. Let’s discuss two of the questions:
QUESTION: The corporation’s engineer recommended refurbishing the corridors. Is the board entitled to undertake a $5.1-million hallway renovation without the consent of 66-2/3 per cent of the unit owners?
ANSWER: If the hallway replacements are necessary, the corporation must proceed without notice to, or a vote of, the unit owners.
If the renovations are not necessary but constitute an addition, alteration or improvement to the common elements, the corporation must advise the owners of the proposed work and its estimated cost. It must also advise that the owners of at least 15 per cent of the units have the right to requisition an owners’ meeting to vote on the proposed work.
If an owners’ meeting is requisitioned, a majority vote in favour is sufficient to approve the proposed work. A 66-2/3 per cent approval vote is only necessary if the estimated cost of the work exceeds 10 per cent of the corporation’s annual budgeted common expenses for the current fiscal year.
As the work entitles cosmetic work, specifically the hallways, then the owners should be given some input as to how the hallways will look, regardless of whether or not the work is required. The Board can have two, but preferably three, options for how the hallways will look after the renovations and then put those options to a vote of the owners. This would be the ethical thing to do.
However, one area that the Condominium Act needs to be changed, other then to require owners’ approval on the cosmetic look of the building, is to required that if the work is not required, but are an “addition, alteration or improvement” defined by the Act, then the Board should be required to hold an owners’ meeting. Sending out a notice telling owners that they have the right to requisition a meeting is simply not good enough. That is nothing more than an attempt to allow the Board of Directors to get away with what every they want by placing the burden of calling the meeting on the owners instead of the Board.
Another question raised was:
QUESTION: Does the board of directors have the right to carry out repairs and/or maintenance to all of the condominium units without the approval of the unit owners? What if the owners do not want to use the corporation’s contractor?
ANSWER: Unit repairs are the obligation of the corporation but the declaration may make the unit owners responsible for the repairs — and virtually every declaration does.
The corporation has no right to undertake unit repairs unless an owner fails to carry out necessary repairs within a reasonable time. In that case, the corporation must carry out the repairs at the cost of the unit owner.
If the unit owner fails within a reasonable time to carry out necessary maintenance that, under the act, is the owner’s obligation, and if the failure presents a potential risk of damage to the corporation’s property or of personal injury to persons on the property, the corporation may, but is not required to, carry out the maintenance at the owner’s expense.
Otherwise, the corporation has no right to carry out unit maintenance or repairs, unless the owner of each affected unit agrees.
I would like to know what work the condominium is undertaking. In some cases it is not only cheaper, but prudent, for the condominium to undertake some of the maintenance of the units. For example, smoke detectors would be the responsibility of the unit owner. However, making sure they are in working order is not only a benefit to the unit owner, but to the safety of the condominium as a whole. As such, it makes sense for the condominium to undertake the work.
Otherwise, if a unit owner refuses to maintain their unit, especially with regards to issues that may impact another unit or the common elements – such as making sure that leaky pipes are repaired – should be dealt with immediately. If a unit owner refuses to do the work then the condominium has to do the work. There is no way around this.