Knowing bylaws lets you live at ease
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.
Condo lawyer Robert Noce.