Why the by-laws are important

It is extremely important for condo owners to know the corporation's by-laws as they are laws that all the owners have agreed to live under. Either you agreed to live under them when you signed your purchase agreement or you were given the opportunity to vote for new, or amended, by-laws at an owners meeting since you became an owner.

If you are a tenant, you have also agreed to live under the condo's by-laws.

Take them seriously
An owner may face serious financial costs if they, their family, pet, guests, visitors or their tenants or their tenants guests or visitors violates any of the condo's or the shared facilities by-laws.

A loan by-law could commit you making additional payments to pay off the principle and interest lasting several years.

Some condos have by-laws that:

Set interest rates of 18% or higher for unpaid condo fees and any other expenses that they may charge an owner.
Limit the owners rights to communicate with each other about the condo corporation's affairs.
Force an owner to pay legal fees that a judge ruled are too high.
Allow the manager to charge fees to pay for any letter that is sent to an owner and to lien their unit if it is not paid.
Set a fee of $25 to $100 if an owner is five days late or more paying their monthly fees.

One Etobicoke condo passed a by-law stating that all directors must be owner-residents.

Difficult to change
It is difficult for the owners to change or amend a by-law. They cannot requisition an owner's meeting to change a by-law, only a majority of the board of directors has the power to rescind, create or amend a by-law by passing a resolution at a board meeting. Then 50% plus one of all the owners need to ratify the changes at an owners meeting either in person or by proxy.

So potential buyers must read the by-laws carefully to see if they wish to live under them and all owners must understand any proposed changes to their by-laws before voting to ratify them.

Got to live with them
In some cases, the courts have ruled that since the owners democratically voted in favour of the corporation's by-laws, then these by-laws are binding because it is what the owners wanted. If the by-laws are unfair or even unjust, then it is up to the owners to have them changed.

The judges expect informed consumers to read their by-laws before buying their condo or when voting to adopt them.

Unfortunately, the majority of owners do not understand what they are agreeing to and since most voting in condos is done by proxy, they may never understand what they are agreeing to.

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