Get le­gal ad­vice be­fore clos­ing deal

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Condos - ROBERT NOCE

Q: Two years ago, we pur­chased a town­house in a five-unit com­plex. At the time, the condo board pres­i­dent told us that, due to the size of the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion, we did not need a re­serve fund study, and none has ever been com­pleted. Our real­tor, home in­spec­tor and mort­gage com­pany did not seem con­cerned by this, so we made the pur­chase. Since mov­ing in, we have had sig­nif­i­cant is­sues. There is no money in the re­serve fund and we are try­ing to fig­ure out how to fix this mess. We know that there will be sig­nif­i­cant spe­cial as­sess­ments in the fu­ture and that a re­serve study needs to be com­pleted. Any ad­vice would be ap­pre­ci­ated.

A: Your first mis­take was re­ly­ing on a real­tor, home in­spec­tor and your mort­gage com­pany to give you what, in essence, is le­gal ad­vice. Your ques­tion in­di­cates that you sought le­gal ad­vice from ev­ery­one but a lawyer. Sec­ond, the board pres­i­dent was wrong to tell you that the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion was not re­quired to do a re­serve fund study; the law re­quires ev­ery con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion in Al­berta, re­gard­less of size, to have a re­serve fund study done ev­ery five years. With re­spect to the sig­nif­i­cant is­sues you now face, you will need to fig­ure out who is re­spon­si­ble for those re­pairs, ei­ther the in­di­vid­ual own­ers or the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion. You should re­view your con­do­minium plan to see if you can find these an­swers.

Help­ful hint: When buy­ing a con­do­minium, no mat­ter how hot the mar­ket may be, or how fine the prod­uct looks, you should al­ways do your due dili­gence. Buy­ing a condo means buy­ing into some­thing where a group of own­ers (the board) con­trols your fi­nan­cial des­tiny. You are not buy­ing a pair of shoes that you can re­turn or ex­change at any time. If ever there was a time to shell out a bit of cash for le­gal ad­vice, that would have been the time.

Q: I own a bare land con­domin- ium. The board has no­ti­fied me that they want to en­ter my home to ver­ify who lives here. Can they do this?

A: There is noth­ing un­der the Con­do­minium Property Act that would al­low the cor­po­ra­tion to en­ter your unit sim­ply to see who lives there. Un­less there is ev­i­dence that the safety of own­ers or the se­cu­rity of the build­ing is at risk, this could be con­sid­ered an in­va­sion of pri­vacy.

Help­ful hint: Con­do­minium boards should be aware of their le­gal rights and lim­i­ta­tions with re­spect to deal­ing with is­sues in people’s homes. When in doubt, con­sult a lawyer.

Q: A few years ago, we dis- cov­ered that our property man­age­ment com­pany had made a mis­take with re­spect to our cus­to­dian’s pay. The board mem­bers trusted the property man­ager to do the right thing and never ques­tioned it un­til we found out. Is there any­thing we can do?

A: If the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion suf­fered a loss or dam­ages as a re­sult of the neg­li­gence of the property man­ager, then you may have a claim against your property man­ager, if you were able to prove neg­li­gence. The ev­i­dence is crit­i­cal in un­der­stand­ing who is at fault. Also, you should be aware of the lim­i­ta­tion pe­riod in civil law, as to when you can ad­vance a claim. You have not pro­vided me with dates so I of­fer no thoughts on that point.

Help­ful hint: When some­one makes a mis­take and you suf­fer a loss as a re­sult of that mis­take, you may have a claim against that per­son. It is im­por­tant to de­ter­mine the amount of the loss and whether or not it is worth pur­su­ing.




Claire Young/Cal­gary Herald

An es­sen­tial part of pur­chas­ing a new con­do­minium is do­ing all the nec­es­sary home­work, in­clud­ing get­ting the proper le­gal ad­vice from a lawyer.

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