Condominium Act Reform – Update

As mentioned in our previous post, Bill 106: Protecting Condominium Owners Act was introduced in the Ontario Legislature on May 27, and the full text of the bill is now available here.

If passed, this bill will make crucial changes to the administration and operation of condominiums, which will affect both condo corporations and owners across Ontario.

Stay tuned for further commentary discussing the impact of this proposed legislation.

Condominium Act Reform

On May 27, Ontario plans to introduce new legislation to better support and strengthen condominium communities: The Protecting Condominium Owners Act.

The proposed changes come after a three-stage public consultation process aimed at modernizing the Condominium Act, 1998. More than 2,200 submissions from condo owners, developers, managers, and industry experts were reviewed. The process revealed five key areas to be considered for reform: governance; dispute resolution; finances; consumer protection; and condo management.

If passed, the legislation will focus on the following changes:

  • Establishing an independent, not-for-profit "Condominium Authority" with a view to providing quicker, lower-cost dispute resolution for condo owners and corporations. (This may be known as the “Condo Office” or “Quick Decision Maker”);
  • Enhancing consumer protection  initiatives by creating comprehensive rules to prevent unexpected costs after buying a newly built condo, creating regulations for standard disclosure statements, and making warranty protection available to certain condo conversion projects;
  • Introducing new rules for condo corporations which the province says are aimed at decreasing fraud and financial mismanagement;
  • Improving communication channels so that condo owners may remain current on relevant news and legal proceedings affecting their community; and
  • Lastly, a separate piece of legislation will be created, the Condominium Management Services Act, which establishes a compulsory licensing system for condo managers and management firms.

This proposed legislation is important to Ontario residents because the size and complexity of Ontario’s condo market has significantly changed since the Condominium Act, 1998 came into force in 2001. There are 1.3 million Ontarians that live in condos and more than 50 per cent of new homes being built in Ontario are condos. It's a huge segment of our population.

Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP has spoken with the office of David Orazietti, Minister of Government and Consumer Services, and confirmed that the new Bill is intended to be introduced in the Ontario Legislature today. Once the Bill is made publically available, we will be circulating a link for our readers to view the legislation right away.

CCI – Boat Cruise – June 25, 2015

All aboard! The Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI) has brought back the Boat Cruise Social Event, leaving the dock on June 25th 2015.

Departing from Hull Marina, the cruise is the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues as you travel down the Ottawa River, enjoying the dramatic backdrop of the Parliament Buildings and the natural beauty of the region.

Here are the details:

  • Date: Thursday, June 25, 2015
  • Time: Boarding: 6:00 p.m. Sailing: 6:30 p.m. Returning: 9:30 p.m.
  • Where: Hull Marina
  • Cost: $30.00 + HST (per person)
  • Cruise includes: Food Stations, Buffet Dinner & DJ

The cruise has limited spaces, with room for only 125 fun-seekers. So visit the CCI Ottawa website to register for the event. See you on deck!

Powers of Attorney and Proxies

Powers of Attorney seem like simple things. Everyone has them but when the time comes that they need to be used, complications often arise. We have seen these at condominium meetings. The issue is whether or not to accept a photocopy of the power of attorney document, or even a written statement that “X has my power of attorney”, as authority to allow the “attorney” to vote or speak at a meeting of owners. More so, is the power of attorney the same as a proxy or does it have some greater authority? The decision on whether or not to accept a power of attorney at a meeting of owners, and for what purpose, is the responsibility of the chair of the meeting.

The Substitute Decisions Act (“SDA”) of Ontario is the governing statute for powers of attorney. The SDA says that a power of attorney is in force until it is revoked in writing and this revocation is either communicated by the attorney or by the person giving the power of attorney (the “Donor”). Until the condominium corporation has knowledge that a power of attorney has been revoked in writing, a properly signed power of attorney that is presented at a meeting of owners must be accepted as valid and in force.

A statement by a person who says that he/she has a power of attorney for a unit owner should not be accepted by a chair for any purpose. As well, a photocopy of a power of attorney is also not sufficient. A notarial copy of a signed power of attorney (or the original signed power of attorney) must be provided to the meeting for the attorney to be accepted as representing the Donor unit owner. 

Unless there are restrictions in the power of attorney document, an attorney can do anything that the Donor can do except make a will for the Donor. This means that once the power of attorney is accepted by the meeting chair, the attorney becomes the Donor/unit owner for the purposes of the meeting. He/she can vote at a meeting and can speak at the meeting on behalf of the owner. 

What is often confusing is whether a power of attorney is the same as a proxy. A power of attorney is more powerful than a proxy, in that a proxy is simply a direction from the owner to the proxy holder to vote or withhold a vote for a particular purpose or purposes. On the other hand, an attorney becomes the Donor/unit owner for the purposes of the meeting, and no proxy is needed by the attorney.

The only thing that an attorney cannot do at a meeting is to serve as a director on behalf of the Donor/unit owner. While an attorney can agree on behalf of the Donor to run for a director’s position, once elected, only the Donor can attend and take part at directors meetings.

We have seen many proper and improper uses of powers of attorney over the years. It is important for a meeting chair to understand the authority and limits of the power of attorney document.