Get le­gal ad­vice on deal­ing with condo emer­gen­cies

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Condos - ROBERT NOCE ROBERT NOCE, Q.C. IS A PART­NER WITH MILLER THOM­SON LLP IN BOTH THE ED­MON­TON AND CAL­GARY OF­FICES. HE WEL­COMES QUES­TIONS AT CON­[email protected]­MON­TON­JOUR­NAL.COM. READ­ERS ARE CAU­TIONED NOT TO ACT ON THE IN­FOR­MA­TION PRO­VIDED WITH­OUT SEEK­ING LE­GAL AD­VICE

Q: My condo com­plex con­sists of 12 units and has been suc­cess­fully man­aged by the board for the past four years. The wa­ter shut-off valves for the build­ings are in­side two pri­vate units, and this can­not be changed. Re­cently, one unit owner (where one wa­ter shut-off valve is lo­cated) re­fused ac­cess to the plumber. This caused in­con­ve­nience to an­other res­i­dent and raises the ques­tion of the board’s le­gal right to en­ter a unit con­tain­ing vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture in the event of an emer­gency.

A: The con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion may have the right to en­ter a unit with­out the con­sent or no­tice of the owner if it has rea­son­able grounds to be­lieve an emer­gency is oc­cur­ring. The is­sue then turns on who de­ter­mines whether a sit­u­a­tion is in fact an emer­gency. The is­sue is not black and white.

Help­ful hint: Given the se­ri­ous­ness of this is­sue, I would en­cour­age you to re­tain a lawyer to give the cor­po­ra­tion a de­fin­i­tive opin­ion on this, to pro­tect not only the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion but also the in­di­vid­ual board mem­bers, when in fact they do need to act in an emer­gency.

Q: I am a first-time condo buyer. Dur­ing con­struc­tion, I asked to have lam­i­nate in­stalled in the two bed­rooms of my unit, but the de­vel­oper re­fused, cit­ing noise con­cerns. The de­vel­oper then said that I can do what­ever I want af­ter I take pos­ses­sion.

A: The de­vel­oper’s re­sponse sounds odd to me, and I have to won­der whether the de­vel­oper has noise con­cerns (which are valid) or cost con­cerns (a sep­a­rate is­sue). While it is true that lam­i­nate floor­ing can cause a noise is­sue, this is a dif­fi­cult ques­tion to an­swer with­out know­ing more facts. For ex­am­ple, some­times floor­ing fin­ishes are spec­i­fied in the condo’s by­laws.

Help­ful hint: When putting to­gether your pur­chase agree­ment for a new con­do­minium unit, you can in­cor­po­rate spe­cific fin­ish­ing selections.

Q: I am the newly elected pres­i­dent of our home­own­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion, an adult com­mu­nity of semide­tached bun­ga­lows. We have main­te­nance fees for snow re­moval and lawn main­te­nance, but we do not have condo fees. Are we gov­erned by the Con­do­minium Prop­erty Act, or is there sep­a­rate leg­is­la­tion that gov­erns home­own­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tions?

A: You are not gov­erned by the Con­do­minium Prop­erty Act, as it does not ap­ply to home­own­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tions at all. Rather, you are gov­erned by an agree­ment that should be reg­is­tered on ev­ery­one’s ti­tle. The agree­ment should set out how fees are to be col­lected and list the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the as­so­ci­a­tion.

Help­ful hint: If you live in a con­do­minium or a home­own­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion, it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand the rules and how you are

to gov­ern your­self.

Q: I have been a mem­ber of my con­do­minium board for eight years, and have amassed a wealth of elec­tronic his­tory of the cor­po­ra­tion on my home com­puter. If I re­tire this fall, what are my re­spon­si­bil­i­ties with re­spect to the in­for­ma­tion I have col­lected and stored on my home com­puter? Do I have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­turn all data from my hard drive to the board of di­rec­tors, which in­cludes emails from the prop­erty man­ager and board mem­bers?

A: The in­for­ma­tion that you have col­lected over the past eight years be­longs to the con­do­minium cor­po­ra­tion. Your per­sonal notes and any other in­for­ma­tion that you have pre­pared for your per­sonal use re­lat­ing to the condo cor­po­ra­tion be­longs to you. How­ever, if you were the col­lec­tor of all of the in­for­ma­tion on be­half of the condo cor­po­ra­tion, then you have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­turn that in­for­ma­tion once you have left the board.

Help­ful hint: Condo boards should con­sider im­ple­ment­ing a pol­icy in terms of how to deal with is­sues re­lat­ing to in­for­ma­tion col­lected over time.

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