In some condominiums, apathy is unquestionably a concern…particularly if things are running smoothly in the condominium!
The problem is that if owners aren’t interested, condominium corporations may be unable to conduct business that requires a vote of the owners. In such cases, it can be particularly difficult to pass a by-law or to amend a Declaration (which generally require higher owner involvement). Can anything be done?
Voting (in general elections) is mandatory in some democracies, although the possible sanctions vary, and in many jurisdictions these duties are not enforced. But in some jurisdictions, these duties are enforced. In Australia, for example, the obligation to vote is enforced, and violators run the risk of a fine.
Does mandatory voting and/or mandatory participation (by owners) make sense for condominiums? I think the answer is: “In some cases, maybe.”
But for any condominium corporation interested in imposing such an obligation, there are some key questions to consider:
- How might such an obligation be created? And what exactly would be made mandatory? Participation (attendance) at meetings? Voting on all matters presented for vote of the owners? Consent (or refusal) for proposed Declaration amendments?
- How might such an obligation be enforced?
The bottom line is that any condominium corporation interested in establishing such an obligation would first need to answer a number of questions (perhaps with the assistance of legal counsel). The sense I have is that some sort of fine or penalty (levied against those who fail to comply) would likely not be enforceable because condominium corporations generally do not have the right to impose penalties. (This will also be specifically confirmed by pending amendments to Ontario’s Condominium Act.) However, I think it might be possible for a condominium corporation to give credits (whether common expense credits or actual payments) to owners who do comply….provided this is authorized by by-law or by a provision in the Declaration. I don’t think this is the kind of thing that a Board could offer “on its own” (without a provision in the Declaration or in a by-law).
So, for this idea to become a possibility, I think it would first need considerable support from the owners. That might itself be rare. But it’s still fun food for thought.
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