Know­ing by­laws lets you live at ease

Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Condos - ROBERT NOCE

Ques­tion: We live in a condo in a no-pets build­ing where that bylaw is not be­ing en­forced. I have spo­ken to the board and the prop­erty man­ager, but noth­ing has been done.

My up­stairs neigh­bour has just bought a dog and we can’t sleep.

An­swer: The board has no dis­cre­tion to ig­nore a bylaw. If your by­laws clearly state that no pets are al­lowed in the build­ing, the board must en­force that par­tic­u­lar sec­tion once they be­come aware of a breach.

This in­cludes vis­it­ing pets, but nor­mally does not in­clude see­ing-eye dogs. If the board fails to deal with the breach, then you may want to re­view your by­laws to de­ter­mine whether you can call an ex­tra­or­di­nary gen­eral meet­ing to bring other own­ers in to put pres­sure on the board.

This would be more cost-ef­fec­tive than your other op­tion, which is a court ac­tion. The good news for you, though, is that if you had to bring a court ac­tion, you may get most of your le­gal costs paid back to you if you are suc­cess­ful in court.

Help­ful hint: If you live in a condo build­ing, check to make sure that pets are al­lowed be­fore you bring one home. If the by­laws state that pets are not al­lowed, then do not buy a pet.

It is as sim­ple as that. Re­spect the by­laws and rules.

Ques­tion: Ap­par­ently, it is our con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion’s duty to send some­one into in­di­vid­ual units to check the heat­ing zone valve pipes un­der sinks, toi­lets and show­ers for leaks and/or drip­ping taps.

Oc­cu­pants are al­ways asked to give the board per­mis­sion to en­ter for such checks, but some own­ers refuse. Is the board en­ti­tled to en­ter our units?

An­swer: It looks like the board is be­ing proac­tive to en­sure that there are no main­te­nance is­sues in units. This, in my opin­ion, is a good thing.

If the board is look­ing at things that are its re­spon­si­bil­ity and pro­vid­ing no­tice to the own­ers that it wishes to in­spect the unit, then some ac­com­mo­da­tion should be made.

Help­ful hint: It is help­ful when boards are proac­tive on main­te­nance is­sues. As long as pri­vacy is re­spected, there is noth­ing wrong with th­ese kinds of main­te­nance checks.

Ques­tion: At a reg­u­lar board meet­ing, can a board mem­ber be rep­re­sented by proxy given to ei­ther an­other board mem­ber or an un­elected unit owner?

An­swer: No. If you are elected to the board, you must at­tend. If you are un­able to at­tend, you can­not give your proxy to any­one else. It would be sur­pris­ing if your by­laws said oth­er­wise.

Help­ful hint: Board mem­bers are not ex­pected to know ev­ery­thing about gov­er­nance, but when in doubt, they should rely on peo­ple who know the law (such as le­gal coun­sel on re­tainer or their prop­erty man­ager) to as­sist them in an­swer­ing th­ese ques­tions.

Ques­tion: Mem­bers of our condo board have been hold­ing sub­com­mit­tee meet­ings. I asked for copies of the min­utes, but was told that the sub­com­mit­tee does not have to take min­utes. Is this true?

An­swer: I would need to know more to bet­ter an­swer your ques­tion. What I can say is that there is noth­ing wrong with a board cre­at­ing a sub­com­mit­tee for a par­tic­u­lar is­sue.

If the is­sue is of a sen­si­tive na­ture or a per­son­nel mat­ter, min­utes may be gen­eral and broad. None­the­less, any board or com­mit­tee of the board should take min­utes, oth­er­wise the com­mit­tee would not have a record of what it had agreed to do.

Help­ful hint: Board min­utes are sim­ply a di­ary of what has hap­pened at a par­tic­u­lar meet­ing. It is im­por­tant to do them prop­erly and to keep cur­rent so that peo­ple can have ac­cess to them in the event an is­sue arises.

Ques­tion: Are there reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing condo boards hold­ing master keys to in­di­vid­ual units?

An­swer: There is noth­ing in the Con­do­minium Prop­erty Act or the reg­u­la­tions that deal with this is­sue.

You may want to re­view your by­laws to see if there is any­thing that men­tions keys. You own your unit and you are not re­quired to pro­vide any­one with the keys to your door.

Help­ful hint: Some boards and/ or con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tions might fol­low a par­tic­u­lar prac­tice that has been in place for years, but the law and pri­vacy is­sues change and boards need to keep cur­rent.

Ques­tion: I was just no­ti­fied that 47 of the 48 units in my condo project are be­ing as­sessed a spe­cial as­sess­ment of $2,500.

One of the units has been aban­doned, and the condo board has now asked the other 47 unit own­ers to ab­sorb this as­sess­ment, in­clud­ing le­gal and other costs.

Why are they coming af­ter the other 47 units and not the owner of the aban­doned condo?

An­swer: First, you need to de­ter­mine the cur­rent owner of the “aban­doned” unit. Is it the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion or a third party?

If the owner is the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion, and they ob­tained ti­tle through a fore­clo­sure process, then ul­ti­mately the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion, through the own­ers, will have to pay for that cost.

If the unit is owned by a third party, then the third party should be re­spon­si­ble. Help­ful hint: Boards should pro­vide suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion to the own­ers, so that own­ers can un­der­stand why cer­tain things need to be done.

Peo­ple tend to be less an­gry when they have all of the in­for­ma­tion.

Cal­gary Her­ald/files

Condo lawyer Robert Noce.

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