News   Oct 23, 2019
 54     0 
News   Oct 23, 2019
 225     0 
News   Oct 23, 2019
 405     0 

The condo act, board powers, registration, etc..

Maxine

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jan 14, 2017
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
Being on a Condo Board is 'interesting' and is actually something all (well, many!) owners should do. If you want an idea of the kinds of things Board do, take a look at some of the many Condo blogs (e.g. http://www.tocondonews.com/ and the many legal blogs like http://www.lashcondolaw.com/ and condo columns like the Gerry Hyman one in the Saturday Star.

The time commitment can vary enormously; in our (small, 50-unit) building I have been on Board for 9 years. At first we met every 3-4 weeks for 3-4 hours but at that time we had a very poor Manager (or series of Managers) and a poor Management Company - and a rather 'hands-off' policy. Then the PM and the Company got worse so we took over more and more of the daily tasks (getting quotes etc) so it took even more Director time. Then we hired a new Management Company and a new Manager and things improved greatly. We now have meetings every 6-7 weeks and they last about an hour (we do also have email 'conferences'; we do not need to constantly discuss the same issues as we are able to get 'facts' and quotes promptly. Also, because the Manager is on top of things and is proactive our Super is much more effective (with the old Manager(s) he never got responses to issues so basically decided it was not worth reporting potential problems). Basically, Boards set and monitor the Budget, approve quotes over $x, supervise the Manager and discuss how to deal with issues that can range from 'improvements' to problem residents to new services like installing Bell Fiber. All this needs to be done within the rules and regulations set by the Condominium Act, the Corporation's own by-laws and, of course, the Corporation's Rules. Being a Director can be quite fun and the occasional interactions with unpleasant residents (all buildings have some) are greatly out-numbered by interactions with the others, who appreciate what the Board is doing. We have found that keeping all residents informed of what is happening and what is not feasible has really helped to make life in our building better, and our lives a s Directors much easier and more pleasant.
Very soon I'm going to be moving into a new condo. I'm considering running for the board. I would appreciate it if someone with experience could give an idea of what sort of things are to be expected, some of the pitfalls, highlights, etc.

On the turnover day, does the new board get elected right away? If so, does this new board have the power to make a decision such as, removal of the property management company? Or does something like that require an additional vote from the attending owners/proxies?

If the condo is a new phase of a complex (ie., shared amenities) how would it work for the 2 buildings to have different property management companies running them?

I've been browsing through the condominium act, but it's not exactly straight forward reading.

Thanks..
 

Maxine

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jan 14, 2017
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
I'm on the board of directors and just found out that another board director has been making noise for the last 6 months but because of privacy laws, our property manager didn't inform the other board members (me and one other) until it was escalated to the lawyer (fourth and last warning). Is this the correct protocol? Being on the board, I feel it would have been beneficial to know this info but our property manager insists they were following policy protocol. Because of this, the board doesn't seem professional and residents are rightly disillusioned.

BTW, I'm not sure how to post a new topic (newbie) so I just posted my question here as the topic related to this thread.
 

PinkLucy

Moderator
Staff member
Member Bio
Joined
Jun 10, 2009
Messages
7,144
Reaction score
3,082
Do you have a code of ethics? Breaching your condo rules (noise) would be a breach of the code of ethics so I would think that the rest of the board should indeed have been informed. But I'm not a lawyer!
 

Maxine

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jan 14, 2017
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
Do you have a code of ethics? Breaching your condo rules (noise) would be a breach of the code of ethics so I would think that the rest of the board should indeed have been informed. But I'm not a lawyer!
We don't have a code of ethics...yet. I'll be asking new board members to read and sign one, however, at our next meeting. TY! Are there real estate lawyers who monitor this site or is there a resource someone could share where I could expect a legal reply (for free?).
 

DSC

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
Jan 13, 2008
Messages
10,368
Reaction score
5,112
Location
St Lawrence Market Area
I agree that there are questions of ethics here but normally a noise complaint is handled under a Corporation's Rules. Naturally these apply to everyone! Breaches of the Rules are dealt with under the Condo Act. See Section 58 of the Act:

Rules
58. (1)The board may make, amend or repeal rules respecting the use of common elements and units to,

(a) promote the safety, security or welfare of the owners and of the property and assets of the corporation; or

(b) prevent unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of the common elements, the units or the assets of the corporation. 1998, c. 19, s. 58 (1).

Breaches of the Rules are deal with in the Act and, under the Act, it is a two stage process. Mediation followed by arbitration. The Arbitration is between THE CORPORATION and the OWNER. The manager may be an important person in all of this but he/she is NOT the Corporation - the BOARD is the legal 'person' who is the Corporation. It is probably acceptable for a Manager to try to deal with Rule breaches 'informally' and not give full details to the Board (and with a three person Board, one of who is the 'culprit') I can understand that this might be seen as less disruptive, initially) but once the matter moves past an informal warning and gets into the legal stuff the Board MUST be involved. Ideally the Manager would make a regular report on his/her activities. It would not be unreasonable to initially report that "an [unnamed] owner" has been breaching the Rules and that s/he has received an official warning. Then when they get a second warning the name of the owner concerned would be given to the Board. Except for routine things like starting the lien process for unpaid fees, I would be amazed if your Manager has the power/permission to go and engage lawyers, paid for by the Corporation. The Manager certainly has no right to speak for the Corporation (i.e. for the Board). and if the matter goes to Mediation it is between the Corporation (i.e. the Board) and the owner NOT the Manager and the owner.

Frankly, if your Manager is not keeping your full Board informed I think you need a new Manager and if they have 'taken over' the Board's responsibilities with Rule enforcement one might wonder what else they have done. In my opinion you should.

1. Call a meeting of your Board (your By-Laws will have a section about how to do this, it presumably takes 2 Directors (out of the 3 of you).
2. Ask the manager to give the Board a full report on the matter. The Director who is subject to the complaint would have to leave the meeting as they clearly have a conflict of interest. In our Bylaws this is covered by two sections.

A director of a Corporation who has, directly or indirectly, an interest in a contract or transaction to which the
Corporation is a party, or a proposed contract or transaction to which the Corporation will be a party, shall
disclose in writing to the Corporation the nature and extent of the interest. Such disclosure shall not apply to a
contract or transaction or a proposed contract or transaction unless both it and the director's interest in it are
material. and

The director shall not be present during the discussion at a meeting, vote or be counted in the quorum on a vote
with respect to such a proposed or existing contract or transaction, unless the director's interest in it is or would
be limited solely to directors' and officers' errors and omissions insurance or remuneration as a director, officer
or employee of the Corporation.

The Board (i.e. the 2 of you not involved) can then decide whether there really has been a Rule breach. If you decide there is Rule breach the Act says you must enforce the Rules. In my experience, enforcement is usually handled by the manager alone IN THE FIRST INSTANCE and I doubt our Board would expect to be informed of all such actions by our Manager. However, once an 'enforcement action' reaches a second (or 3rd) warning I think the Board would demand full details.

You need to look at your Rules and your By-Laws and need to talk to the 3rd Director to see what they think. If the Noise-making Director is a more general problem in the smooth running of your Corporation a group of owners can call a special meeting to remove them and elect a replacement. Again, details of this are in the Act (s 33 "...a director, other than a director on the first board, may be removed before the expiration of the director’s term of office by a vote of the owners at a meeting duly called for the purpose where the owners of more than 50 per cent of all of the units in the corporation vote in favour of removal.") . If the 2 people on the Board who are not involved in this mess agree, you, as the Board, can call a special meeting of owners with this as the sole item of business. If you are doing this you probably want to talk to the Corporation's lawyer to be sure it is all done right.
 

PinkLucy

Moderator
Staff member
Member Bio
Joined
Jun 10, 2009
Messages
7,144
Reaction score
3,082
I raised the question of ethics because the question was whether the rest of the board should have been made aware earlier than they were given that it was a board member breaching the rules. The property manager isn't going to tell the board about every single violation that goes on but should be informing the board about repeat offenders, when issues need to go to arbitration, the lawyer, etc. -- but when it's a board member involved, should notification be given to the rest of the board earlier than if it were another resident? I say yes because breaching the rules is also breaching the ethics of being a board member. Many residents think that board members get special favours or perks, so if the board is made aware of problem behaviour from a fellow board member ASAP, hopefully they can do something to address it quickly, because there is also the issue of perception/reputation to deal with.
 

Ex-Montreal Girl

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 15, 2012
Messages
871
Reaction score
190
Location
Toronto, ON
Everything DSC and Pink Lucy said.

A noise issue that persists certainly becomes a Board issue, at least in our place. It would be handled, like just about every neighbour-to-neigbour dispute, or any rule breaking issue, in the confidential portion of the board meeting. NO board member should be seen to be getting special treatment. It makes all the other directors look bad.

With us, we sign an ethics and confidentiality document at the very first meeting post AGM and post-election or appointment. I have signed it every year since first elected.

Incidentally, we finally whacked our PM. Maxine's needs to go as well.
 

DSC

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
Jan 13, 2008
Messages
10,368
Reaction score
5,112
Location
St Lawrence Market Area
Y
Everything DSC and Pink Lucy said.

A noise issue that persists certainly becomes a Board issue, at least in our place. It would be handled, like just about every neighbour-to-neigbour dispute, or any rule breaking issue, in the confidential portion of the board meeting. NO board member should be seen to be getting special treatment. It makes all the other directors look bad.

With us, we sign an ethics and confidentiality document at the very first meeting post AGM and post-election or appointment. I have signed it every year since first elected.

Incidentally, we finally whacked our PM. Maxine's needs to go as well.
Yes, the Directors have an ethics statement - which includes confidentiality - at our Corporation too (signing it is in our By-Laws), though we actually only have to sign it when first elected, not every year of the 3 year term. Ex-M-G you are, of course, right that any Board discussion involving an individual (owner or staff) would be done in a non-public part of a Board meeting and (like Caesar's wife) Directors need to be cleaner than the clean in things like Rule breaches.

Basic advice to Maxine is: Look at the Act, read your By-laws and Rules and think very seriously about getting a new Property Manager; the one you have appears to think THEY run things but (though Managers are very important and should offer advice) the Corporation is actually run by the Board. "The buck stops here" and all that!
 

Maxine

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jan 14, 2017
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
Thanks very much, all! Very insightful and sage advice. I'm elated I found this forum. BTW, how can I post a new thread? I have a few more questions that you may be able to answer.
 

Maxine

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jan 14, 2017
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
Since I can't officially start a thread yet, may I ask the experts the following four questions here?

1. Our Property Manager is insisting we hire a lawyer to get Proxy to allow Beanfield in our building, which is something supported by the majority of owners (per an informal Facebook poll). I don't see this stipulated anywhere in our Condo Declaration. Why do we have to pay a lawyer to draft up a proxy when the provider would be optional to owners (residents can continue to use either Rogers or Bell) and owners support it anyway. I don't get this at all?! Can someone please explain? A proxy for this seems very byzantine to me.

2. Our Hydro bills are through the roof (we paid $9400 more in 2016 than in 2015!). The board has installed LED lights and motion lighting in the garbage, locker and bike rooms (garbage chutes too) and have even removed some aesthetic lights in the hallways. We are thinking of reducing hallway temperature but not sure to what (anyone have any advice on this? It's now set to 18) but would like more ideas on how to conserve energy so we don't have to increase our maintenance fees too much. Anyone have any solid tips they'd care to share?

3. On a similar topic, can the board make residents purchase low flow shower heads?

4. Our property management company does a pretty average job of keeping the board informed but that is not the case with residents. We constantly have to ask our PM to send out emails regarding garbage, noise, repairs, etc. and practically have to write each announcement ourselves, too. Is this normal? On a similar note, does anyone have any resources they could share regarding communication tips/strategy/templates, etc.? If anyone has hired a communication strategist, how much have they paid?

Cheers, Maxine

Re hallway temperature--just not sure what they set it to. Ideas?: "How did the Toy Factory Lofts condominium reduce its maintenance costs? Some of the reduction is due to well-thought out building adjustments, such as reducing hallway temperatures in the winter. Such cost saving initiatives should be applauded and encouraged as a way of keeping condominium living more affordable."
 
Last edited:

Ex-Montreal Girl

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 15, 2012
Messages
871
Reaction score
190
Location
Toronto, ON
If I may ...

I am constantly gobsmacked by how little so many new owners know or even bother to learn. I mean, would these people buy a house with getting an inspection? Learning a condo's Declaration, Rules and By-laws is the same thing IMO.

You fall behind on your CEF? Hey Bud, 13% plus prime.

And no, you can't knock own that wall, move the kitchen into the bathroom, close in your balcony without initialing every single page in our now 38 page reno application form which contains the Declaration, Bylaws etc. because we want you to KNOW that we can force you to take apart what you have done at your own expense.

We hold an annual budget Town Hall. It's informal. No registration. Basically, I do a PowerPoint explaining everything we did do and why, and everything we plan to do and why, and where the money is coming from and where it is going. No stone unturned. Everything out in the open. Then I show how hydro etc. has gone up, our contract increases, and all the reasons why we have to raise CEF x%

There is always some newcomer who goes bananas because he did not expect the fees to climb 5 or 7 or 9% because inflation was only 2% (or something.) Last time this happened I patiently explained that inflation has nothing to do with it as the CPI is a certain basket of goods that does not take into account increases in security or landscaping contracts, or the cost of swimming pool repairs, or whatever. The f$&^ker called me "the Gestapo."

But I digress.

Jeez that guy ticked me off, and he does it all the time.
 

Ex-Montreal Girl

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 15, 2012
Messages
871
Reaction score
190
Location
Toronto, ON
I can help with #2 and #3 but I am not sure I understand #1. It does sound weird to me as well. That said, I run a lot of things through our lawyer because better to pay $300 an hour now rather than $30,000 later.

Since I can't officially start a thread yet, may I ask the experts the following three questions here?

2. Our Hydro bills are through the roof (we paid $9400 more in 2016 than in 2015!). The board has installed LED lights and motion lighting in the garbage, locker and bike rooms (garbage chutes too) and have even removed some aesthetic lights in the hallways. We are thinking of reducing hallway temperature but not sure to what (anyone have any advice on this? It's now set to 18) but would like more ideas on how to conserve energy so we don't have to increase our maintenance fees too much. Anyone have any solid tips they'd care to share?

3. Our property management company does a pretty average job of keeping the board informed but that is not the case with residents. We constantly have to ask our PM to send out emails regarding garbage, noise, repairs, etc. and practically have to write each announcement ourselves, too. Is this normal? On a similar note, does anyone have any resources they could share regarding communication tips/strategy/templates, etc.? If anyone has hired a communication strategist, how much have they paid?

Cheers, Maxine
HYDRO:

I know nothing about the age, size etc. of your building. Are your units individually metered? Are your walls insulated? What are your windows like? Do you have balconies? What about exposure?

Tell me about hydro bills going through the roof! Because they are part of the CEF in our building, people think electricity is free.

We are an older building and our units are not individually metered and can't be because of the nature of our heating system which is electric. It's radiant ceiling heat and, if I were to lower my thermostat, they would feel the cold upstairs. So metering would mean we would try to save money when, say, we go south for the winter but the little old lady upstairs would freeze.

We have very few options.

We are working very hard on education, complete with "light shows" demonstrating the difference in hydro consumption between LED, and CFL, halogen etc. We show people how to save in other ways. We encourage the use of ceiling fans. We even tell them to wear fuzzy slippers and sweaters!!!

I think that, as our older owners die off or move out, it's getting better as the newbies come in and renovate with new HE appliances. Plus they tend to be more conservation-minded, especially the downsizers who grappled with hydro bills. (When we moved in we were doing time-of-use laundry and dishwashing until we discovered that the building was paying bulk rates.)

The older folks were mostly the originals, who moved in 40 years ago and may have never owned houses. They may have never seen a hydro bill.

We are slowly replacing all our common area lights. We turned down the pool temperature 3 degrees. We have motion lights in some other rooms, like the bike room. But we have a huge parking garage and three stairwells and those lights are on 24/7. The expense to flip over to LED will be enormous. This year we have budgeted $20K to continue doing that and we hope to make it back soon.

The building installed all new windows about six or seven years ago. Had I lived there at the time, I would have fought the choice of windows. They went cheap. We are heating the outside. Drives me nuts. (We try to encourage people to get and use energy-conserving shades like Hunter-Douglas Duettes.)

Hydro keeps rising despite our best efforts.

We had a Green Committee for a couple years to help with the planning and education. It was a great group, including three retired engineers, a former HVAC man and myself. We did a lot but Hydro kept raising the rates.

Our corridors are not electrically heated, BTW. They're gas/hot air and that's pretty cheap.

Wish I could help more. Ask to look at the bills. Is the consumption increasing? Or the rates? That should tell you a lot.

COMMUNICATIONS:

I have endured three property managers and I have to say that every single one of them would have failed high school English. I end up writing 95% of all letters, notices, etc. It's a lot of work but I consider it my job as other Board members bring other expertise to the table. Mine is communications.

I also maintain a blog -- sorry it's confidential/private -- where I post the news and notices as they happen. I have fun with this. It's my thing. One of these days, I will get around to creating a full-fledged website. It's a freebie WordPress site.

We also have a monthly 8-page hard copy newsletter put together by an owner and myself, with contributions by our neighbours. It gets printed in the PM office and distributed by volunteers.

Anyway, depending on the building, sometimes PMs just have too much on their plate. Since Board members will bear the brunt of complaints for lack of transparency, they should (at least IMO) assume responsibility for communications.

I have to say that, when we first moved in, people were bitching about the Board because nobody knew what it was doing or why it was doing what they did know about. Now, aside from confidential matters due to privacy legislation, they know everything. If there are complaints, they have not gotten back to us.

I really think transparency is key. It also serves to show how hard the Board is working (or not.) A transparent hard-working Board will get more respect from owners when they see how much it does on their behalf.

We like having happy campers.
 

PinkLucy

Moderator
Staff member
Member Bio
Joined
Jun 10, 2009
Messages
7,144
Reaction score
3,082
I'm also not sure just what you mean by #1, but I can't see any reason you would need a vote (is that what you mean by proxy?) to bring Beanfield in. If there is nothing about specific providers in your declaration (for example, if it said the building would only be served by Rogers -- although I can't see a declaration stating that), the board should be able to enter into a contract with Beanfield or any other provider. You aren't entering into an exclusive contract, you're offering an additional choice. You may want to have a lawyer review your contract with Beanfield (or any other contract though) -- sometimes lawyers pick up on little things in contracts that can cause a lot of grief down the road.

For your hallway temperatures, we don't heat our hallways or cool them in the summer. There is enough air movement from our ventilation system that it isn't necessary. When I lived in a different building where hallways were heated, the heat was turned off and a couple of people complained, but really -- how long are you in a hallway anyway? It quickly became a non-issue. As for saving energy, can you reduce the heat/ac in other areas like the lobby? Are your lights in the gym/pool/other amenities on timers as well so they're not on when those areas are closed. Can your ventilation system be switched to variable speed devices so things like fans aren't running 365/24/7? Getting an energy audit may be worth your while -- a small expense now that can result in ongoing savings. Upgrading/changing some equipment can also be done with the assistance of government rebates. We got quite a bit of money back when we did a complete building retrofit.

I'm not sure that you can make owners switch their shower heads, but you can strongly suggest it and even set up a bulk purchasing arrangement so that the cost of the shower heads would be less and thus encourage people to make the switch. Water has gone up quite a bit and it's a significant cost for a building as well.

Communications are key. People want to keep informed. There was recently an article via Condo Madness (a great mailing list to follow) about a judge that ruled against a condo corp because of lack of communication. Our board used to have to do a lot of the communication. We have always believed it's very important (we're owners too, and we want to know) but fortunately we now have a management company that also believes in communication. We send eblasts about all kinds of issues, we have a Facebook page, newsletters are sent regularly and we have digital screens. Like Ex MG we hold town hall meetings.

As for Toy Factory, be careful about wanting to reduce maintenance fees. It might look good in the short term, but it's not a long term strategy. Sometimes stuff happens so how will you pay for the unexpected? I'd rather see a cost of living increase each year than get a decrease one or two years followed by a huge increase down the line. We recently had our reserve fund study done and it would seem that the one done previously didn't account for a couple of significant costs, so now we're playing catch up with our reserve fund. Or boards can go cheap to save money now -- avoid repairs, get band aid solutions rather than proper repairs, etc. -- and a board a few years later is stuck being the bad guy when there is no longer a choice about paying the big bucks.
 

Top