Who is responsible for what when it comes to buying a condo?
Today’s neighbourhoods don’t sprawl as much as they stretch up to the clouds. There are more than 800,000 condo units and 1.6 million condo residents in Ontario. The number of condominiums continues to grow. These communities are flourishing, but many residents are new to condo living and find some of the nuances of living within a shared complex confusing. One of the most challenging aspects of condo life is figuring out who exactly is responsible for what aspects of the building.
To better understand their roles and responsibilities, residents, both owners and renters, need to read their condo declarations, bylaws, and rules and visit the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) website. The declaration, bylaws, and rules are developed by each individual corporation and are particular to your condo. The CAO provides information on the Condominium Act, as well as the roles and responsibilities of owners, condo boards and managers.
Rights and responsibilities
As an owner, you have rights and responsibilities for your unit, as well as for costs of maintaining common areas. With respect to your rights, you can:
- Requisition an owners’ meeting
- Propose an issue be added to the agenda of the owners’ meeting and vote at owners’ meetings
- You can also stand for election to the board and vote to elect board members
- Owners also have the right to review your condo corporation’s records or propose a topic for a board meeting
- It is your responsibility to understand all the documents and how your condo operates
- If necessary, you can also file specified disputes for resolution with the Condo Authority Tribunal (CAT)
- You may also rent your unit in accordance with your condo’s bylaws or rules
- It is your responsibility to repair and maintain your unit, and pay common expenses and special assessment fees to the corporation
The role of the condo board of directors is to govern the corporation. This means they must ensure the corporation complies with the condo Act. The board cannot conduct any business except at a meeting of directors and these meetings must have a quorum, which is a majority of the number of directors on the board. As part of their responsibilities, directors must manage your condo’s finances, ensure all required maintenance and repairs are carried out, and hire specialists, such as engineers, to update the reserve fund study every three years. They also propose changes to condo bylaws, enact rules to promote the safety, security and welfare of all owners, and regularly communicate with owners. As a consumer protection, all directors elected or appointed on or after Nov. 1, 2017 are responsible for taking the CAO’s online director training. Every director must complete the course within six months of the date of their appointment or election. Those who do not complete the training prior to the deadline are automatically disqualified and immediately cease to be directors.
For corporations that choose to retain a condo manager, this is one of the most important responsibilities. The condo board delegates certain responsibilities to the condo manager through management agreements. A licensed condo manager or management firm takes care of the property, building or buildings, the paperwork and bookkeeping associated with the corporation.
If you’re enjoying life in your new condo, you want to make sure that everyone is working together to make sure your condo is managed well and that your home will be kept in good repair. Everyone has a role to play! It is important to know your responsibilities.
The CAO is a newly established organization that aims to improve condominium living by providing services and resources for condominium owners, residents and directors. These include:
- Easy-to-use information to help owners and residents understand their rights and responsibilities
- Mandatory training for condominium directors
- Resources to help condominium owners and residents resolve common issues, and
- An online dispute resolution service through the Tribunal
Robin Dafoe is Chief Executive Officer and Registrar of the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO). She leads the organization to achieve its strategic vision to be an authoritative source of condominium information and to effectively serve Ontario’s growing condominium communities.