Condo boards can lobby owners
Q: We live in a condominium complex with 55 units, and 29 have decks. The board wants to cover these decks with a peaked roof, similar to the others. They have had two votes with the board’s backing, plus three with an owner going around with petitions, and always failed to get 75-per-cent support. Most owners with decks wish to keep them without adding roofs. Each time there has been a vote, members of the board have gone door to door to try to persuade the owners to vote against the decks. The board and the property manager are all aware of what is going on and are supporting this process. Is this the way a board should be operating? Can they just keep doing this until they get the answer they want?
A: There is nothing under the Condominium Property Act that provides an answer to this question. Therefore, a board could move forward with a resolution until they get the answer they want. Unfortunately, that is just the reality of condominium living. However, I would hope that a strong “no” would indicate to the board that there is no point in continuing this process. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with the board lobbying owners and asking them to vote a particular way, as long as they are acting reasonably and are not distorting the facts.
Helpful hint: Currently, there is a gap in the Condominium Property Act with respect to special resolutions, as there is no direction as to how many resolutions can be passed or the time frames in which they must be approved.
Q: During a recent board meeting, a question of equity and the condominium corporation came up. We wondered if a person buying into the corporation would be required to pay the seller of the unit for the portion of the corporation’s equity position. For example, if the corporation has an owner’s equity position of $100,000 and there are 100 units and the seller is selling the unit for $250,000, would the purchaser be required to pay the seller the $250,000 for the unit plus $1,000 portion of the owner’s equity?
A: The short answer to your question is the seller can sell his/her unit at any price. If the seller wants to take into account other factors to increase the price of their unit and there is a willing buyer for that, then there is nothing wrong with that. Generally, a unit in a well-managed condominium corporation with a healthy reserve fund would command a better price than a unit in a condominium corporation that is operating in a deficit position or with low or no reserve funds. The purchase price should reflect all of those factors. Whether they do or don’t is between buyer and seller. There is nothing under the Condominium Property Act that would provide the seller with any direction on this issue.
Helpful hint: Generally, the buying and selling of condominium units is done in an open and free market.
Q: We are in the process of having the first Annual General Meeting (AGM) to elect our first condominium board. Most of the literature states that nomination of board members happens at the meeting. We have had a number of volunteers come forward with nominations, and those nominated have agreed ahead of time to let their names stand for election. A newsletter was sent to owners remind- ing them of the meeting, along with a request for them to consider a board position. Can the names of these persons and a short description of their qualifications be circulated along with the notice of the meeting? I realize that we will need to ask for additional nominations at the meeting, but I feel that owners should know a little bit about potential board members.
A: The Condominium Property Act does not answer this question. Your bylaws might set out a specific election process to be followed with respect to nominations. If your bylaws are silent on this point, then there is nothing wrong with providing owners with the information, provided that the people who have indicated an interest have no problem with circulating their personal information.
Helpful hint: It is helpful to provide owners with information about the condominium corporation and those who are seeking a board position. Communication is key in condo living.
Q: Three units in our condo complex have no heat, and the property manager gave the owners the name of a plumbing firm that services the build- ing. They were told that it was their zone valve. Each owner received a bill for $400 for the repair. Shouldn’t these repairs be paid by the condominium corporation, not the owners, since heat is included in condo fees?
A: I cannot answer this question, because your facts do not indicate who is responsible for the zone valve. If it is determined that the zone valve is the responsibility of the condominium corporation, then the condominium corporation should pay for the repairs. Someone needs to provide you with that legal opinion.
Helpful hint: As per the Condominium Property Act, the condominium corporation is required to maintain and repair condominium-owned property and common property.
It’s important for condo owners to seek consensus on matters like the appearance of their townhouse decks.