Some Licensing and Education Requirement Updates for Condo Managers

As noted on the Condominium Management Registry Authority of Ontario (CMRAO) website, condominium management licences run from July 1st to June 30th each year and are to be renewed annually. In most years, the deadline for managers and management providers to complete their licence renewals will be June 30th. However, in this initial transition year (2018), this deadline was extended to August 31st. So, all managers and management providers should have completed their renewals (for the 2018-19 licence year) by August 31, 2018. Continue reading “Some Licensing and Education Requirement Updates for Condo Managers”

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New Regulations for Condominium Managers

As many of our readers know, the licensing requirements for condominium managers under the Condominium Management Services Act, 2015 (CMSA) came into effect on November 1, 2017. As the Ministry moves forward with this new legislation, new regulations supporting the implementation of the CMSA are being introduced, including the following two regulations that are set to come into force on February 1, 2018:

Continue reading “New Regulations for Condominium Managers”

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Update on the Discipline Process under the CMSA

One of the more unsettling changes for condominium managers coming under the Condominium Management Services Act (“CMSA”) is obviously the complaint and discipline procedures. As we previously reported, under the CMSA anyone will be able to make a complaint to the Registrar of the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority (“CMRAO”) against a condominium manager for an alleged failure to comply with the proposed Code of Ethics. Sections 57 and 58 of the CMSA establish the following three levels of authority to deal with any such complaints:

1) CMRAO Registrar;

2) Discipline Committee; and

3) Appeals Committee.

Since the CMSA came out, we’ve known that under section 57 all complaints will go directly to the Registrar initially, who has very broad powers to deal with the complaint. Notably, if the Registrar is not able to resolve the complaint, the Registrar has the authority to refer the matter to the discipline committee.

Now that we have the proposed additional regulations under the CMSA, we have a much better understanding of the procedures for the discipline and appeals committees. If passed, here’s what the proposed regulations tell us about both the discipline committee and the appeals committee:

Composition and Appointments to the Discipline Committee and Appeal Committee

Composition: The CMRAO Board (or the Minister, if necessary) will appoint at least five members each to sit on the discipline committee and the appeals committee, at least one of whom has never been a licensee (i.e. a condominium manager).

Appointments: A person can sit on both the discipline and appeals committee at the same time. Each committee with have a chair appointed (and possibly vice-chairs). Once appointed, each committee member will be required to take, and sign, an oath. Appointments will be for three-year terms. However, the CMRAO Board can terminate the appointment of a committee member at any time for cause.

Procedures for the Discipline Committee

In our view, the discipline committee will be the second level of authority in the complaint process (the Registrar is essentially the first level of authority).

Limitation: The CMRAO Registrar must refer a complaint to the discipline committee within two years of receiving the compliant.

Purpose: The committee’s purpose is to hold a “semi court-like” hearing, that is open to the public, to review the complaint. In other words, the committee will likely follow a typical court hearing process, but may allow relaxed rules respecting evidence and testimony from witnesses. When a complaint is referred to the discipline committee, the chair will assign a three member panel (made up of two licensees and a non-licensee) to hear and determine the matter.

Parties: The CMRAO (and not the person who initially brought the complaint) appears to be the moving party, and the condominium manager (that is the subject of the complaint) would obviously be the responding party. The committee has the authority to add any other party to the proceeding, if necessary. Parties may represent themselves at the hearing or appoint legal counsel on their behalf.

Notice: Once a hearing date has been set to review the complaint, the committee must give the parties at least 45 days notice of the hearing date.

Evidence: If the CMRAO plans to tender evidence at the hearing, it must disclose the evidence to the parties 30 days before the hearing. Any other party (including the condominium manager), must disclose any evidence they plan to tender 15 days before the hearing.

Closed Hearing: If necessary, the committee can order that the evidence and submissions at the hearing be closed to the public.

Notice of Committee’s Decision: Once a decision has been made, the committee must send the final decision or order (including a notice of appeal rights) to the parties and to the person that made the complaint (even though the complainant may not be a party to the hearing).

Unless otherwise ordered, the decision must also be made public.

Procedures for the Appeals Committee

Again, in our view, the appeals committee will be the third level of authority in the complaint process, after the Registrar and the discipline committee.

Purpose: The purpose of the appeals committee is, obviously, to hear appeals from a decision of the discipline committee. The appeals committee will follow essentially the same process as the discipline committee with respect to disclosure of evidence and notice of a decision.

Limitation: If warranted, a party must appeal a decision from the discipline committee within 30 days of the discipline committee’s order.

Commencement of Appeal: To start the appeal process, the appellant must deliver to the appeals committee: 1) a Notice of Appeal (that sets out the parties to the appeal, the order being appealed, the grounds for the appeal, and the relief sought); and 2) the required filing fee (set by the CMRAO).

The appellant must also serve a copy of the Notice of Appeal to the discipline committee and the other parties to the appeal.

Parties: The parties to the appeal are, of course, the appellant, the other parties to the proceeding before the discipline committee, and any other person as added by the appeals committee.

Summary

The bottom line is that while the complaints and discipline procedures may appear intimidating or cumbersome, the process seems to be structured to permit the Registrar to handle (and dismiss or resolve) the majority of complaints that come in.  It appears structured such that only truly serious complaints, with due merit, will proceed past this first step.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News for more updates on the new legislation as it comes into force.

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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.

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