Owners Indirectly Save on Electricity Rebate

Gerry Hyman has another article for the Toronto Star.  Let’s discuss two of the questions:

QUESTION:  We’ve seen an announcement that condominiums will be eligible for a proposed hydro rebate. Will our corporation be obligated to pass the rebate to the unit owners or can they place it in the operating fund?

ANSWER:  You are correct that condominium corporations are eligible to receive the rebate. The Electricity Consumers Act 2016 states that the rebate is available to consumers who have an “eligible account,” which is defined to include properties within the meaning of the Condominium Act. The rebate relates to hydro fees paid by the corporation, which will not transfer it to the individual unit owners.

If the Board acts wisely, they will use the rebate to offset any increase in maintenance fees for the next fiscal year.  While this will not put money into the pockets of the owners, it does offset a possible increase in their maintenance fees which would cost them money.  Thus they will be saving money.

The Board also has a couple other options for how to use this rebate, including:

  1.  Placing the rebate into the Reserve Fund.  This might allow the Board to do some work earlier than expected, or if there is work planned to be done in stages over the next few years, some of the work scheduled to be done in later years could be moved up a year or two – resulting in less inconvenience to the owners, but also providing for a possible cost savings.
  2. The money could be set aside into a Contingency Fund to be used to cover unforeseen costs that may come up in the future.  Again, this is not money in the pockets of the owners, but it might stop a large maintenance fee increase down the road or stop a special assessment from being incurred, both of which would come out of the pockets of the owners.
  3. Cost savings work.  The rebate could be used to cover work that will save the condominium money.  For example, the lighting system in the  building could be overhauled to use LED lights, which may save the condominium money every year.  This cost savings would then be returned to owners through lower maintenance fee increases.

Another question asked was:

QUESTION:  One of our owners, who applied for a city permit for renovations to his unit, was advised an existing window needed enlarging. The board advised it would consent if the owner agreed to enter into an agreement, under Section 98 of the Condominium Act, rendering the owner responsible for future maintenance and repairs of the alteration. The board also required an engineer’s report confirming no negative future structural effects or water seepage. The owner objected. Are we, as a board, being unreasonable?

ANSWER:  The board is not obligated to consent to an owner carrying out common-element alterations. The directors are required to act honestly and in good faith. The requirement for an agreement between the owner and the corporation is set out in Section 98 of the act, and the corporation may require the agreement to make the owner responsible for future maintenance and repairs to the common-element alteration.

If the owner is unable to provide a reasonable engineer’s opinion or is unwilling to sign the Section 98 agreement, the board could refuse to approve the common-element alteration.

I have to disagree with Mr. Hyman on this.  If the City is requiring a larger window to be installed to meet city’s Building Code, then the Board has no authority to refuse to have the larger window installed.  The city will not allow the owner to do any work without meeting their Building Code.  The owner must follow this.  The Board, instead of requiring the owner to sign an agreement with them, should look at making sure the condominium as a while meets the standards set out by the city.

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