“They’re going to get a lot more information about what’s going on at their condo,” says lawyer Craig Robson
by Jackie Sharkey, CBC News | July 27, 2017
A new tribunal is being established to handle disputes between condominium owners and their boards, following a CBC News investigation earlier this year that uncovered alleged corruption and conflicts of interest.
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The tribunal, called the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario, is established along with a number of new regulations that should mean improvements to how the boards are governed and provide better communication between boards and individual unit owners, lawyer Craig Robson told The Morning Edition‘s host Craig Norris on Thursday.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Norris: What are the most significant changes that were introduced?
Robson: I think the implementation of the condo tribunal, which is an authority that’s in place to try to provide information to condo unit owners and directors and also to try to head off disputes at the pass, try to resolve disputes before they turn into major litigation and to address the fact that the cost of litigation in condominium [law] … is so excessive that it discourages legitimate litigations simply because it’s too much money.
Norris: What do these changes mean practically for condo owners?
Robson: It means they’re going to get a lot more information about what’s going on at their condo. They’ll have easier ability to call owners’ meetings if they have concerns. Their directors will have more education, they’ll be more knowledgeable. Their property managers will be licensed and I think that there’s a bigger chance for an orderly exchange of information between the condos and their boards and knowing what’s going on.
Norris: Will there be a lot of change as a result?
Robson: I think there’s going to be a lot of paperwork. There’s a lot of information circulars that have to be provided periodically. There’s a lot of disclosure that has to be made by directors. Directors now have to disclose when they’re running for office if they have any conflicts of interest. Interesting, they have to disclose if they’ve ever had a conviction under the Condominium Act — which I’ve never seen in 30 some years — but they don’t have to tell you if they’re a bank robber or not.
They’re trying to just make sure that their owners know more about their candidates.
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Norris: So are these are the loopholes, as some people would describe them, that they’re trying to address with this?
Robson: I think it’s merely a matter of, in some places, it just wasn’t working right. Owners felt they were isolated. If they had a problem with the condo board, the condo could raise as much money as it needed to deal with them and homeowners would have to fight back, lawyers were required.
Hopefully the tribunal will be able to get people to sit down and work out their issues with some expertise to guide them perhaps in the right direction.
Norris: What will the tribunal do for owners?
Robson: It will give them, I think, a resource where there will be information that’s available to them. They can make contact with the tribunal and ask questions. For example, if the board is saying you can’t have a dog because the declaration says you can’t have a dog, they can phone the tribunal and say “Okay, is that enforceable? Do I have to do what I’m being asked to do by the board?” And they would be told, probably yes, you do unless it’s a service dog issue or something of that nature. Hopefully then they will feel they’ve been given impartial advice and perhaps less of a confrontation.
Norris: Who pays for this?
Robson: Some of it is government funded, initially. And then there will be an imposition of a levy on all condos of approximately a dollar a unit a month. It will be funded largely from condominium corporations collecting money from their owners and submitting them to the government.