Corporation likely on hook for leak
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.