Proposed Code of Ethics for Condominium Managers has been released

As many of our readers know, we now have proposed additional regulations under the Condominium Management Services Act (“CMSA”). Notably, the proposed regulations include the Code of Ethics that condominium managers will be required to adhere to. The Ministry is requesting feedback on the proposed regulations (up until October 16, 2017).

As our regular readers know, the Condominium Management Services Act (“CMSA”) says that condominium managers must comply with a Code of Ethics or they risk facing complaints and discipline. However, we haven’t yet known with any certainly what the Code of Ethics would require…until now.

On August 30, 2017, the Ministry circulated proposed regulations that provide direction on the CMSA’s requirements. Perhaps one of the most serious sections of the proposed regulations is the new Code of Ethics. It outlines numerous proposed obligations for condominium managers and is designed to promote professionalism, reliability, and quality of services.

The Code of Ethics uses plain language, which makes it easy to understand and is broken down into two sections:

  • General Obligations: and
  • Protecting Client Interests.

As the proposed regulations are currently drafted, the General Obligations of the Code of Ethics confirm that condominium managers have an obligation to:

–  Not act in a way that causes the condominium management provider to contravene the Code of Ethics.

–  Treat everyone fairly, honestly, and with integrity.

–  Not discriminate, harass, or commit acts of violence.

–  Provide reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities.

–  Provide courteous, conscientious, and responsive service.

–  Demonstrate reasonable knowledge, skill, judgement, and competence when providing opinions or advice.

–  Keep all records required in providing management services.

–  Be financially responsible in providing condominium management services.

–  Not misrepresent the conditions of their licence.

–  Use best efforts to prevent error, misrepresentation, fraud, or unethical practice.

–  Not engage in an act or omission that could be seen as disgraceful, dishonourable, unprofessional, or unbecoming.

–  Not unreasonably interfere with the use and enjoyment of the common elements, units, or assets by an owner, resident, or the condominium corporation itself, unless required to do so by law.

These General Obligations are owed to the public at large – including owners and occupants.

Under the Protecting Client Interests section of the Code of Ethics, condominium managers must:

–  Keep the client informed of all significant steps the manager takes.

–  Promote and protect the best interest of the condominium.

–  Be diligent in executing their contractual obligation to manage, maintain, repair, or protect the property or assets of condominium.

–  Advise a client to obtain services from another person where those services are beyond the condominium manager’s knowledge (or they’re not authorized to provide those services).

–  Not indicate, either directly or indirectly, that remuneration or other costs are fixed by the Administrative Authority or a government body.

–  Not disclose any confidential information to a third party without prior written consent.

These obligations are owed to clients – i.e. the condominium corporation clients.

As it currently reads, the Code of Ethics contains a number of requirements that most regulated professionals (such as lawyers or doctors) must also meet. For example, the requirements for confidentiality or reasonable knowledge are required of most professionals and are fairly easy to monitor.

With that said, some of the other proposed requirements seem to be less common in professional standards, and may ultimately be difficult to judge. For example, how will managers be judged on their obligation to provide “conscientious” service? How are managers to judge whether their conduct is “disgraceful” or “unbecoming”?

While I think the sentiment is clear: The Ministry expects a high standard of professionalism and courtesy from condominium managers, some of the proposed requirements might be too subjective or uncertain as they currently read. We’ll have to wait to see if the Ministry clarifies or omits some of the more subjective or confusing requirements before the Code of Ethics is finalized. This will be particularly important given that a breach of the Code of Ethics could result in discipline process for the manager.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News for a series of blogs coming shortly to give more details and comments about these proposed regulations. Next up will be our review of the complaints process.

New Proposed Regulations under the CMSA

The Ministry has circulated proposed regulations under the Condominium Management Services Act (“CMSA”) that give us further insight into the standards condominium managers will have to meet once the CMSA comes into force. For now the Ministry is seeking feedback on the proposed regulations from the public. Condominium owners, residents, developers, managers and other stakeholders are invited to submit their comments.

We’re another step closer to better understanding the rest of the Condominium Management Services Act (“CMSA”) – beyond the pure licensing requirements.

On August 30, 2017, the Ministry circulated proposed regulations that provide direction on the following sections of the CMSA:

The proposed regulations are designed to serve as a directive to “spell out” in more detail the requirements of the CMSA. In June 2017, the Ministry previously filed a General Regulation (Regulation 123/17) that deals with other sections of the CMSA such as licence applications and licensee requirements. Once passed, the newly proposed regulations will work alongside Regulation 123/17.

The Ministry expects that the proposed regulations will be finalized and come into force on February 1, 2018.

In the meantime, the Ministry is now seeking public feedback until October 16, 2017, that will be considered when finalizing the regulations. You can provide your comments by mail to: 56 Wellesley Street West, 6th Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M7A 1C1. Be sure to quote “Proposal Number 17-MGCS018.”

While the proposed regulations have yet to be finalized and are subject to change, they provide valuable insight into the standards and obligations the Ministry expects of condominium managers.

Here’s a general overview of the proposed regulations:

Code of Ethics

Perhaps the most serious aspect of the proposed regulations is the new Code of Ethics for condominium managers. The CMSA allows for the establishment of a Code of Ethics for licensees, and the proposed regulations set out the proposed Code of Ethics.  The Code of Ethics will set the standards that licensees must meet to comply with their ethical obligations under the CMSA. According to the proposed Regulations, the Code of Ethics is designed to promote professionalism, reliability, and quality of services.

Discipline and Appeals Committee

The CMSA also establishes two committees – the Discipline Committee and the Appeals Committee – which are designed to hear and determine complaints about alleged breaches of professionalism (including alleged violations of the Code of Ethics). We now know that the committees will each consist of 5 members appointed by the Board of the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO). The proposed regulations explain the composition of the committees and the procedures they must follow.

Complaints

Under the CMSA, if the Registrar receives a complaint about a licensee, the regulation sets out the procedures respecting complaints. Among other things, the Registrar can request information related to the complaint from any licensee. The proposed regulations set out the notice required to do so and set out a licensee’s obligations when a complaint is made.

Insurance

The proposed regulations say that every licensed condominium management provider must maintain both errors and omissions insurance and fidelity insurance. The proposed regulations also set out the obligations for condominium management providers to disclose information about the types and amounts of insurance coverage they carry.

Other Requirements

The proposed regulations also establish requirements respecting the following:

  • Disclosure required by Licensees: licensees will be required to disclose certain information in writing to prospective clients before entering into a contract for management services.
  • Duties in relation to client records: the proposed regulations will require licensees who hold records on behalf of clients to comply with certain standards.
  • Duties in relation to supervision of licensees: The proposed regulation would require licensed condominium management providers to ensure an adequate level of supervision for limited licensees in their employment.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News for a series of blogs coming shortly to give more details and comments about these proposed regulations. First up will be our review of the Code of Ethics.

 

 

Condominiums must register with the CAO (Condominium Authority of Ontario) and pay Assessments by December 31, 2017

Condominiums have started to receive Welcome notices from the CAO.

These Welcome notices outline some important features of the CAO, many of which we have discussed in past blogs, including:

  • Information and resources available through the CAO
  • Dispute Resolution through the Tribunal starting November 1, 2017
  • upcoming Online Mandatory Director Training (which will also be accessible to the public and owners at no charge)
  • Information about the pending public registry of Condominiums

The CAO website now has some comprehensive information as well.

Condominium corporations are reminded to:

  • Register the condominium with the CAO online,  (once you have received a unique invitation code) which will require the following information:

– The type of condominium corporation being registered
– The service address for the condominium corporation
– The number of units and voting units
– The names, email addresses, and terms for condo directors (optional)
– The name, email address and firm (if applicable) for your condo manager (optional)

    • Pay the condominium corporation’s assessment by December 31, 2017

More information is available here on the Registration page of the CAO website.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News for more blogs about amendments to the Condominium Act and upcoming events .

 

Obtaining a License for Condominium Management – an Overview

Mandatory licensing for condominium management is steadily approaching.  For details on this topic, see our previous blogs.  But in the meantime, we felt that an Overview might be useful.

Here’s a broad overview of the coming requirements:

Obtaining a License for Condominium Management – an Overview

I.   The first step is to consider the following question: Are you (or will you be) providing condominium management services?   In other words, will you need a license?  [Again, see our previous blogs on this topic.]

II.   Assuming you do need a license, you have until January 29, 2018 to make application. As of November 1, 2017, you will be able to make application (on line) at the website for the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario. As part of the application process, you will of course be required to pay the applicable licensing fees.

III.   If you have less than two years of condominium management experience in the past five years (when you make application), you can only apply for a Limited License. You will then have five years to obtain your General Licence.

IV.   If you have more than two years of condominium management experience in the past five years (when you make application), there are two possibilities:

(a)   You can apply for your Transitional General Licence (but you will need to obtain a General License within three years of obtaining your Transitional General License).

(b)   You can apply for your General Licence, if you have fulfilled the necessary education and examination requirements. For now, this requirement is essentially the testing and examination requirements for an ACMO RCM designation.  Note that Managers with 10 years of experience may be able to fulfill these requirements through an abbreviated “refresher course and examination” process.  [For more detail, contact ACMO – the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario.]

V.   NOTE: If you haven’t provided condominium management services during August, September or October of 2017, you may also only be able to make application for a Limited Licence.  [For more detail, see the CMRAO website.]

VI.   Condominium Management Providers will also be required to make application for their own licences and (as part of that process) to identify a principal condominium manager. They will also be required to pay additional licensing fees (quite separate and apart from the licensing fees payable by managers).

As of January 30, 2018, it will no longer be legal for a person or firm to provide condominium management services without a licence.

It’s coming soon!

Stay tuned to Condo Law News for more blogs about amendments to the Condominium Act and upcoming events .

 

The Condominium Authority is Up and Running!

We’re now into September (I can’t believe it!); and the province has announced that the Condominium Authority is now “in service”.

Some of the key purposes of the CAO will be as follows:

1.  An overall source of information for Ontario’s condominium community.

2.  On-line, mandatory training of condominium directors.

[There are already some “training modules” on the CAO website, but the website also includes the following note:

NOTE: Directors of condominium boards will be required to complete mandatory training at a later date in order to continue as a board member.  Completing the modules below will not count towards this requirement.  Stay tuned to our website for more information on CAO’s mandatory training program for directors.]

3.  Special Resources for condominium owners and residents (including template letters for certain dealings with condominium corporations and managers; how-to guides, information about changes to condominium law, and general information about condominium living).

4.  Help for condominium owners, residents and corporations in resolving certain issues between them, including on-line dispute resolution for certain types of disputes, through the Condominium Authority Tribunal.

Although the CAO is now up and running, it won’t really be “fully ready for business” until November 1st – which is when the first phase of the amendments (to the Condominium Act and Regulations) will come into force.   And even then, the CAO will only be dealing with matters covered by the first phase amendments.  For instance, it appears to me that the dispute resolution service – in the beginning – will only be dealing with disputes in relation to records (including owners’ requests for records).

So, there is still a ways to go before the CAO will be “in full swing”.

You can obtain much more information about the new Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) at the CAO website:  www.condoauthorityontario.ca.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News for more blogs about amendments to the Condominium Act and upcoming events .

Education Requirements for a Condominium Manager General Licence

Starting November 1, 2017 all condominium managers have 90 days to apply for a licence under the Condominium Management Services Act.

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (the “Ministry”) has designated the educational and examination requirements for a General Licence as follows:

Less than five years’ experience in providing condominium management services

The following ACMO-developed courses (for the current RCM designation) are required to be completed:

  • Condominium Law,
  • Physical Building Management,
  • Financial Planning for Condominium Managers, and
  • Condominium Administration and Human Relations.

Five or more years’ experience in providing condominium management services

The above-stated courses are required;

or,

Instead of those courses, the applicant will have to pass the applicable Challenge Examination developed by the ACMO.

Who will provide the Courses and Challenge Examination ?

  • Colleges of applied arts and technology that offer the above stated courses; and,
  • A Condominium Management Provider that is authorized by ACMO to offer the courses to its own employees.
  • ACMO will provide the Challenge Examinations.

Don’t forget that the Registrar will have the ability (likely on a case by case basis) to recognize alternative education experiences as equivalent to the above-stated requirements, for managers who have successfully completed other training programs, internship programs, apprenticeship programs, courses, seminars, lectures or tutorials.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News for more blogs about amendments to the Condominium Act and upcoming events .

 

Condominium Authority of Ontario: Monthly Fees and Dispute Resolution Fees Confirmed

We had previously blogged about the fees associated with the new Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO).

The CAO has announced that it has set the fee amounts for the monthly fee and the user fees for the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) as follows:

  • CAO monthly fee per condominium unit at  $1 per month ($12 per year); and
  • CAT user fees for dispute resolution (payable by the party that files the dispute) as follows:
    Filing Fee For access to CAT’s unassisted on-line dispute resolution system $25
    Assisted Resolution Fee For assistance from a dedicated mediator $50
    Tribunal Decision Fee For a decision from a dedicated adjudicator $125

    The CAO monthly fees will be payable by the Condominium Corporation. Initial communications will be sent to Condominiums later this month, with the initial payment (covering September 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018) being due on December 31, 2017.

The CAT user fees for dispute resolution are effective as of November 1, 2017. This is when the CAT will start accepting applications.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News for more blogs about amendments to the Condominium Act and upcoming events .

Electric Cars and Charging Stations in Condominiums

Electric cars, and charging stations, are a hot topic this week!  Britain has announced the eventual ban of gas and diesel powered vehicles, and an Ottawa condo is making national news  (click on the video entitled:  Ottawa Woman’s Power Struggle to Charge Electric Car at Condo Building) about whether or not an owner can, or should be, entitled to charge an electric car. 

In light of all the commentary, we wanted to chime in with our thoughts!

There is no easy, or one size fits all, solution to the question of whether or not an owner, or multiple owners, or all owners, can, or are able, to charge electric cars on the condominium property. 

As was recently stated by one of our lawyers during an interview,  (click on the above-stated video), the collective should work together to find out what is possible, and makes sense, in any given situation – always bearing in mind the applicability of the governing documents in any given case. In another interview, one of our lawyers also explained that many condo boards never imagined having to accommodate electric vehicles, and that infrastructure may be a physical barrier to this type of arrangement.

In some condominiums, the existing infrastructure will not support individual, or multiple, charging stations.  In most of these cases, in order to change the existing infrastructure, a vote of at least 66 2/3% of all owners may be required.  In such cases, until the vote occurs and the infrastructure is updated to accommodate the actual or potential use, individuals will simply be unable to charge their electric cars.

In other condominiums, even if the infrastructure can support the use, where it is a common expense, it may be necessary to install individual metering to ensure that all owners are not paying for the cost of those individuals wishing to charge their electric cars on site.

In many cases, a condominium’s governing documents would simply not have contemplated the advent of electric vehicles.  As a result, in both of these examples, the condominium’s governing documents (the Declaration, By-Laws or Rules) may also need to be amended to reflect this new use of the common elements and/or common services.

In some more recently built condominiums, the issue is moot.  In these condominiums, this type of use has been anticipated, and either individual or shared charging stations have been integrated into the build.  In these situations, we generally see that the use is also regulated and addressed in the governing documents.

The bottom line is that each particular case needs to be carefully reviewed and considered, both from a practical (i.e. infrastructure) and legal (i.e. governing documents) perspective. 

We have worked with many condominium corporations faced with these difficult issues, and have found, in all cases, that there is a desire to investigate and explore the options available to address the interests and needs of all in the community.  However, even if the desire exists at the Board and Management level, the implementation of any particular proposed solution will often go beyond the jurisdiction and authority of the Board and Management, and may require the involvement of all owners.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News for more blogs about current and important issues faced by condominium corporations .

 

Condominium Returns

We now have proposed Regulations from the Province, governing the upcoming requirements for condominium corporations to file returns with the new Condominium Authority, and also creating a new publicly-accessible database of information respecting all condominium corporations in the Province.

There will be four new types of returns for condominium corporations:

Initial Return – To be filed after registration of the Declaration and Description (applying only to corporations declared after the new Regulations come into force).

Turnover Return – To be filed after the turnover meeting is held (applying only to corporations that hold a turnover meeting after the new Regulations come into force).

Transitional Return – To be filed by all existing corporations after the new Regulations come into force.

Annual Returns – To be filed annually by all corporations.

The attached chart provides a “snapshot” of the information to be contained in each type of return. Click here to access the detailed Chart of Condominium Returns

Condominium corporations will also be required to file “Notices of Change” – within 30 days – following a change to certain information in the corporation’s returns.

The returns will have to be filed electronically.  However, the Registrar can accept another filing method if the Registrar is satisfied that electronic filing would cause undue hardship to the corporation.

The Registrar will maintain a public database (accessible on line) containing all of the information in the returns and Notices of Change, as well as certain additional information noted in the Regulations.

Persons have until August 22, 2017 to provide feedback to the Province, on the proposed Regulations, if they wish to do so.  To provide comment, go to the Ministry’s webpage respecting these proposed new Regulations.

Proposed Fees for the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario

The Province has now proposed licensing fees for condominium managers under the CMSA, and has invited input from the public on those proposed fees.

As we now know, on November 1, 2017 the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (“CMRAO”) will become the designated administrative authority under the Condominium Management Services Act, 2015 (“CMSA”).  The CMRAO will be responsible for licensing managers, and overseeing the regulation of the condominium management industry.

The Province has now confirmed its proposed fee structure for licensing of managers:

Limited License $379.00
Transitional General License $607.00
General License $607.00
Condominium Management Firm License $799.00 base fee PLUS $350 per licensee employed by the firm

Licensing fees will form the primary source of revenue for the CMRAO which will operate as a not for profit corporation.

The Province is currently seeking feedback and input with respect to the above proposed fee structure.  If you wish to provide feedback, you can do so by completing a short survey which is accessible from the CMRAO website (there is currently a link on the main page to “Provide Your Input” on the proposed fees).  Feedback will be collected by the Province from July 11, 2017 to August 10, 2017.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News for more blogs about amendments to the Condominium Act and upcoming events .