Owners can Remove Directors not Officers

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

QUESTION:  We are wondering if the condominium unit owners have the right to vote for the removal of the president of the board? The owners believe that he has acted improperly.

ANSWER:  Owners cannot vote to remove the president, since he is elected by the board and may be removed as president only by the board.

However, owners of 15 per cent of the units may requisition an owners’ meeting to vote on his removal as a director. An affirmative vote by a majority of the owners will be required for removal. As well, his removal as director will remove him as president as the president must be a director.

The one point that Mr. Hyman forgets to mention is that officers, with the exception of the President, do not need to a director.  The President, however, must be a director.  So, yes as Mr. Hyman states the owners can get rid of the director who happens to be President.

Now most officers in a condominium are likely to be directors (such as the Vice President, the Secretary, and the Treasurer.)  So, technically even if the owners remove a director, that person can remain an officer – although they would lose the right to vote at a Board meeting (only directors can vote at a Board meeting.)

This might not always be fair, but at the same time if enough owners are willing to remove one director, the entire might be replaced if necessary.  Plus, if the Condominium Act is changed to amend the requirements to remove a director to a 2/3 majority vote it would help to make directors accountable to for their actions and decisions.

Another question raised was:

QUESTION:  Our board has levied a special assessment of $20,000 for garage waterproofing. The assessment is payable in one year, and is based upon a guesstimate by the board of the cost of the work. Please advise whether the special assessment is proper.

ANSWER:  The board is entitled to levy a special assessment for funds required for major repairs, or for the replacement of portions of the common elements.

But a contract for the work will not require the corporation to make payment to the contractor nine or 10 months before the work is to begin. The corporation is not entitled to levy a special assessment payable within one year for funds the corporation does not presently require.

Further, the assessment is apparently not based upon the agreed price for the work — or upon a professional estimate of the cost of the work — but is simply a guesstimate by the board about how much money it will eventually cost. This is not a proper basis for an assessment.

The Board is actually correct to give the owners a one year warning about a special assessment, especially one as large as $20,000.  It may not be easy for a lot of owners to come up with that kind of money, so having a year’s notice is actually a good idea.

However, the Board, prior to actually implementing the special assessment, should get advice from a professional Engineer to see if they have sufficient money in the Reserve Fund to cover the costs and if not how much money they actually require.  Then the Board can make a more accurate determination of how much money is required and when they will receive the money.  For example, the special assessment could be spread over several months not all in one payment.

Lastly, I want to discuss the following question:

QUESTION:  My mother lives in a ground-floor condominium unit accessed by external stairs. She has disabilities and requires a walker. The corporation is refusing to install a ramp to permit her to have reasonable access to her unit. Your opinion, please.

ANSWER:  The condominium corporation is obligated, pursuant to the Human Rights Code of Ontario, to accommodate the disability of a resident. It may be necessary, though, to provide medical evidence of her disability and that it prevents satisfactory access to her unit. If the corporation refuses to install a ramp, a complaint might be presented under The Human Rights Code.

Even without the Human Rights Code, it seems very reasonable for the Board to allow the installation – it is just common sense to do so.  I don’t see what the Board’s issue is here.  One day they might be in the same situation.  They should just allow the installation and move forward.

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