Cor­po­ra­tion likely on hook for leak

Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Condos - ROBERT NOCE FOR THE CAL­GARY HERALD ROBERT NOCE, Q.C. IS A PART­NER WITH MILLER THOM­SON LLP IN BOTH THE ED­MON­TON AND CAL­GARY OF­FICES. HE WEL­COMES QUES­TIONS OF AP­PROX­I­MATELY 100 WORDS OR LESS AT CON­DOS@ED­MON­TON­JOUR­NAL. COM. AN­SWERS ARE NOT IN­TENDED AS LEG

Q: What hap­pens when dam­age within a unit is di­rectly due to ex­ter­nal dam­age, ne­glect, or im­proper main­te­nance? I live in a town­house-style con­do­minium, where pre­vi­ous roof­ing re­pairs cre­ated fur­ther dam­age caus­ing a leak within my unit. A con­trac­tor, ap­proved by the board, came out and cut out all of the rot­ten wood, but was un­able to com­plete the re­pairs. Eight months later, I still have a hole in my ceil­ing, and the cor­po­ra­tion is telling me that it is my re­spon­si­bil­ity to fix it be­cause the ceil­ing is within my unit.

A: I am go­ing to as­sume it is the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­pair the roof on the town­house units. Based on that, you are cor­rect that if the re­pairs that the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion un­der­took caused dam­ages within your unit, the cor­po­ra­tion should be tak­ing steps to re­pair those dam­ages as well. The dif­fi­culty with an­swer­ing this ques­tion is that I would re­quire additional facts to give you a de­fin­i­tive an­swer. How­ever, your po­si­tion sounds rea­son­able.

Help­ful hint: In these types of sce­nar­ios, you are left with few op­tions, one of them be­ing that you may have to take le­gal pro­ceed­ings against the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion. If, how­ever, the cost of re­pair is not sig­nif­i­cant, you may want to take ac­tive steps to re­pair the dam­ages and avoid more has­sle. Leav­ing your unit in a state of dis­re­pair will not im­prove your qual­ity of life.

Q: A pipe in my condo burst and caused wa­ter dam­age in both my unit and the unit be­low. The property man­age­ment com­pany hired a con­trac­tor to do re­pairs and sent me the in­voice. My in­sur­ance com­pany agreed to cover the costs, and asked for a break­down from one line item of about $10,000. The con­trac­tor had hired a sub­con­trac­tor to re­place the wood floor, but re­fused to pro­vide the sub­quote or any other re­lated documents. Since the property man­age­ment com­pany al­ready paid the con­trac­tor, there is not much that can be done. What was the con­do­minium board’s re­spon­si­bil­ity in this sit­u­a­tion?

A: First, why did your in­sur­ance com­pany pay for the re­pairs? You have not in­di­cated whether this is a tra­di­tional con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion or a bare land con­do­minium, which would have an im­pact on my an­swer. In any event, there is no doubt that if you are pay­ing for some­thing, you are en­ti­tled to know ex­actly what you are pay­ing for, and you are en­ti­tled to see all the in­voices. Un­for­tu­nately, it is not likely you will get that in­for­ma­tion now. Ob­vi­ously, the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion should have been aware and ob­tained the in­for­ma­tion that you needed. I do not know if there is much more that can be done. Help­ful hint: In­sur­ance-re­lated mat­ters are some of the most dif­fi­cult is­sues to deal with in con­do­minium liv­ing; own­ers need to be deeply in­volved from start to fin­ish.

Q: Our con­do­minium board wants to ren­o­vate some com­mon property ar­eas, but there is no cur­rent re­serve fund study (it is two years over­due). The con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion is cur­rently re­pair­ing an out­side wall, which re­quired a spe­cial as­sess­ment, and the board tacked on more money for ex­tra work. Own­ers are con­fused about ev­ery­thing. Can a so­cial room and ex­er­cise room change lo­ca­tions? Do plumb­ing changes, ex­tra door­ways, re­moval of door­ways, and/ or win­dows all re­quire the sup­port of own­ers?

A: First, the Con­do­minium Property Act re­quires ev­ery con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion to con­duct a re­serve fund study ev­ery five years. The cor­po­ra­tion and/ or in­di­vid­ual board mem­bers are ex­pos­ing them­selves to li­a­bil­ity for fail­ing to fol­low the law. With re­spect to the other mat­ters, the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion is re­quired, un­der the Con­do­minium Property Act, to re­pair and main­tain com­mon property or cor­po­ra­tion-owned property. There­fore, if the board has iden­ti­fied work that needs to be done to main­tain or re­pair the con­do­minium property, then what it is do­ing may be per­fectly le­gal. How­ever, I am con­cerned about the changes you men­tioned, such as the lo­ca­tion of cer­tain rooms and other struc­tural changes. Greater owner in­volve­ment is help­ful when the board pro­poses those types of changes. Help­ful hint: Hav­ing a lawyer on re­tainer is help­ful to as­sist in these types of sce­nar­ios, to help guide the board in terms of fol­low­ing their le­gal re­quire­ments and avoid­ing trou­ble down the road.

Q: We own a unit in a new apart­ment-style condo build­ing in Cal­gary that is only about a quar­ter built. We have heard that the de­vel­oper has sold (and is still sell­ing) units by of­fer­ing no condo fees for a year. This does not seem right to me. How do I con­firm which own­ers are pay­ing condo fees, and who would I con­tact to ver­ify whether the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion is re­ceiv­ing the money?

A: It is not clear from your ques­tion whether or not the de­vel­oper has yet turned over con­trol of the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion to the own­ers. It would ap­pear that it has not. There­fore, your abil­ity to get that in­for­ma­tion from the de­vel­oper may be limited. How­ever, you, as an owner, would have the op­por­tu­nity to go to court and force the de­vel­oper to an­swer those ques­tions and pro­vide the in­for­ma­tion you need to as­sess the fi­nan­cial vi­a­bil­ity of the cor­po­ra­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, there are not a lot of op­tions avail­able to you, es­pe­cially if the de­vel­oper still con­trols the board of the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion.

Help­ful hint: The Con­do­minium Property Act does not pro­vide own­ers with clear guid­ance on is­sues like this.

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