The Condominium Act 1998

The Condominium Act is the legislation that governs condominiums in Ontario. It states when a condo corporation comes into being, how it can be terminated and everything in between the corporation's birth and its death.

Nothing in the declaration, by-laws or rules can over-rule the Act.

Yet, there is a lot that is unsaid in the Act.

Contract law
Condominium corporations, like business corporations follow contract laws rather than constitutional laws. Your local city councillor and MPP cannot help you. Most do not want to hear about messy condo disputes.

Disputes ultimately end up at the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) or in civil courts where disputes, even if "won" are very expensive for the owners who get into these battles.

An owner can never recover time wasted, nor can the owner ever be compensated for months, if not years, of stress and frustration. Plus there is no guarantee that the board will stop looking for ways to harrass an owner.

The Act states that a condo has to have annual AGMs but the meeting rules and procedures to be followed are largely left to the individual condo corporations to decide. To make changes to the developer's meeting by-laws, the majority on the board has to agree to any changes and bring those changes to an owners meeting for a vote.

Also, there is no real penalty if a board does not hold Annual General Meetings. Some condos go years without having one. The worse that can happen is that the courts order the board to hold a meeting. Big deal.

Meeting registration
The Act does nothing to insure that the persons running the election process have "clean hands".

The property management company sends out the meeting packages, prints the ballots, provides the ballot boxes, collects the proxies and mans the registration desk. Yet they are not uninterested third parties.

We now have a standard three-page proxy form. Great except that too few owners know how to read it.

Board meeting minutes
There is no standard or official way in which meeting minutes should be taken. The Condo Act just requires that minutes be kept. Some boards record so little information that the minutes are practically meaningless.

Once a rule is in place, it is extremely difficult for the owners to have the rule changed or rescinded. The owners need to replace the majority on the board to do so.

The biggest problem with the Act is that condo boards can ignore most of its provisions without worry as there is almost no penalties for violating the Act.

An owner has to take the condo corporation to Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), mediation, arbitration or civil court to seek compliance with most issues.

Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) promises to be cheap and quick but so far, aside from requests to examine records, it doesn't do much.

If CAT fines a condo corporation, and it refuses to pay the owner, the owner has to go to Small Claims court to get a court order upholding the fine.

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