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Perhaps you’ve just purchased your first condo, or you’re a long term condo owner. This information will help break down the most important things to be aware of when you own a condo. Not the same as buying a single-family home, you are part of a bigger community and it’s important to know your rights.
The Alberta Government has published a wonderful 27-page Consumer Tip Guide that breaks down the much-larger (and more complicated) Alberta Condominium Property Act (CPA). This guide is a MUST READ for all Alberta Condo Owners.
Excerpts of this guide appear below. For more information regarding this content or the original document, please visit their website: https://www.alberta.ca/condominium-rules.aspx.
What Do I ABSOLUTELY Have to Know As An Albertan Condo Owner?
Q: What defines a Condominium?
A Condominium is a form of real property ownership that has two distinct parts: you own your condominium unit to which you get a title, and you also jointly own common property with the other unit owners in your complex.Owning a Condominium | Condominium Property Act
There are many types of condominium units. There are residential, such as apartment-style within a low-rise, mid-rise or high-rise building, detached or semi attached (duplex) townhouse dwellings, or in some cases commercial and industrial units may be included in some mixed use complexes.
The exact boundaries of each condominium unit are identified in the condominium plan. If you do not have a current copy of the condominium plan, most documents and/or plans can be ordered through Alberta Land Titles (SPIN2) https://alta.registries.gov.ab.ca/spinii/logon.aspx
Typically, the residential space is bound by the walls, floors and ceilings. Owners are responsible for the maintenance, repair, and remodeling of the unit unless otherwise specified in the condominium bylaws. However, permission by the Board of directors may still be needed to remodel your unit if the changes affect the common property.
Q: Is it the condo corporations responsibility to take care of Doors & Windows?
All doors and windows of a condominium that are located on the exterior walls of the unit are part of the common property, unless the condo plan says otherwise. If the plan does not specify if the windows are part of the unit or common space, then the corporation is responsible for repairs and maintenance.
Q: How Much Condo Insurance Do I Need To Have?
The condominium corporation is responsible for having insurance on the entire structure of the complex. The corporation must have insurance for any liability incurred by the board or corporation when carrying out their duties and responsibilities, which ensures the corporation is protected if a board member or manager causes a loss by dishonesty or fraud.
Owners will need to purchase their own insurance to cover loss or damage to personal property, as well as cover for personal liability and improvements to the unit. Liabilities may include responsibility for the corporations deductible, if the damage originated from an owners unit.
Changes made to the unit are not considered “improvements” if they are included in the corporation’s standard insurable unit description (SIUD).
$50,000K Deductible Change In Jan 1, 2020 Alberta Condo Property Act
In BFL Canada’s most recent “Condo Legislations Changes” Notice, they state:
“Effective January 1, 2020 the board can recover the Corporation’s deductible from an owner for damages that originate in or from the owner’s unit or an exclusive use area, to a maximum of $50,000.”BFL Canada, “Condo Legislation Changes” .PDF
So, all Condo Owners need to check their insurance see if they have $50K coverage for the corporation’s deductible.
See our blog post for more details: https://magnumyork.com/blog/how-do-jan-1-2020-changes-in-albertas-bill-9-condo-property-act-impact-owners-and-condo-boards/
Q: What is a Condominium Corporation?
A condominium corporation is created when the developer registers the condominium plan with the Alberta Land Titles Office. The condominium corporation consists of the owners of all the units identified in the condominium plan.
Bylaws are set in place to regulate the corporation. They provide for the control, management, and administration of the units, the common property, the managed property, as well as any other real and personal property owned by the corporation. A Board of Directors is elected by the unit owners to carry out the condominium corporation’s responsibilities.
Q: What are Condominium Bylaws?
Every condominium has a set of bylaws. When a condominium plan is registered, it may include an initial set of bylaws that govern the corporation. If not, the default bylaws of the “Condominium Property Act” will be applied to condominium corporations that do not have their own bylaws registered with Land Titles.
Instead of using the default bylaws, corporations may decide to develop their own bylaws that will suit the needs of the corporation. Bear in mind, nothing a condo can put in their own bylaws can supersede the Condo Property Act. The CPA is the final word.
However, there is a lot a condo corporation CAN put in their own bylaws. Legal advice is highly recommended on how to draft a set of bylaws. Owners have the right to change the bylaws by passing a motion to adopt the changes. A special resolution, requiring approval of 75% or higher of the owners named on Title is required to make any changes. The changes are effective after the board registers them with Land Titles.
Condominium bylaws vary greatly between complex’s, so owners should be aware of their particular bylaws when owning a condo. Some for example, may exclude pets from the property, or set out noise restrictions. Owners and everyone occupying a unit are bound by the bylaws of the corporation and may face fines or legal action if they aren’t adhered to.
Q: How Do Corporation Rules differ From Condominium Bylaws?
Outside of the bylaws, the board of directors may pass resolutions to create rules and policies for the corporation. These rules must be reasonable and consistent with the Condominium Property Act and bylaws of the corporation.
At least 30 days before a new rule comes into effect, the board must notify all owners, in writing unless it’s an emergency that addresses a safety or security concern. A rule established by the board may be amended or repealed by the owners with an ordinary resolution.
Q: What is a Condominium Board of Directors?
Every condominium has a board of directors. Directors are elected by owners to carry out the corporations responsibilities. The bylaws outline how many directors can sit on the board, how they are selected and if there are any eligibility requirements.
Directors are generally volunteers who agree to take on the responsibility of running the condominium for at least one term. Two thirds of the members of the board must be unit owners, or mortgagees, unless otherwise stated in the bylaws.
The board will conduct regular meetings and must act with a view to the best interest of the corporation, and exercise care and diligence in their role.
It is important for owners to be aware that when the board makes decisions in the best interests of the entire corporation, those decisions may sometimes conflict with an individual owner’s wishes.
If a majority of the owners disagree with a board’s decision, they have the ability to pass an ordinary resolution giving direction to the board. The resolution may be passed at a general meeting called for that purpose, or a written resolution may be used. Directions given by the owners must be compatible with the Act, the regulations, and the corporation’s bylaws.
The Board’s responsibilities can include…
- Abiding by and enforcing the corporation’s bylaws
- Managing, administering and maintaining the common property
- Maintaining, repairing and replacing any unit or part that a corporation is required to as set out in the bylaws
- Setting and collecting condominium fees
- Preparing financial statements
- Preparing and approving an annual operating budget, including the allocation to the reserve fund, and providing the budget to the owners before the annual general meeting (AGM)
- Placing and maintaining insurance on the property
- Establishing, maintaining, and administering the capital reserve fund
- Hiring and supervising employees and contractors, including a condominium manager or management company
- Holding an annual general meeting
- Filing with the Land Titles office any change in board membership within 30 days of the general meeting, or promptly after any other changes in board membership
- Filing with the Land Titles office any changes in the corporation’s address for service promptly after the change is made
Q: What do Property Managers do?
In general, a condominium property manager has two primary responsibilities. One is to manage the daily operations of the complex and secondly, to carry out policies and procedures set by the board of directors. The property manager works closely with the board of directors as an advisor, but acts solely from the direction of the board.
The property manager will perform regular inspections on the complex and will contact necessary vendors about maintenance or repair issues. If you are a unit owner and would like to report an issue, you may do so by submitting an online service request.
The property manager will also most likely handle the condo’s financial affairs. This includes collecting condo fees, preparing monthly financial statements and created a yearly budget, to be submitted and approved by the board.
Q: What Condominium Documents Do I Need?
The Board, or the condominium manager acting as directed by the board, must respond to a written request from an owner, purchaser, or a mortgagee of a unit for information or specific documents.
These include information about contributions that are due and payable, copies of agreements, bylaws, minutes of the board or general meetings, budget, recent financial statements, insurance, and the reserve fund study report or plan or annual update, as required under the Act and the regulation. The board, or the condominium manager, may charge fees for
Q: What are Condo Fees for?
A condominium corporation needs money to meet its financial obligations – paying for insurance premiums, snow removal, landscaping, repairs to common property, reserve fund, etc. The main source of income for the corporation is the money paid by the owners in their condominium fees.
Contributions are normally set annually and paid monthly. However, the board can collect a special levy/assessment, which may be payable in one lump sum or several installments, if the corporation needs to raise extra funds to meet its obligations.
The board sets contributions by taking into consideration the budgeted needs of the corporation. Contributions are paid by the owners in proportion to the unit factors for their units.
The Property Manager collects the fees on behalf of the corporation and putting it into trust accounts for both operating and reserve funds.
A condominium corporation has the right to collect unpaid condominium contributions. The corporation can:
- Ask the owner’s mortgage company to pay the outstanding amounts and add it to the owner’s mortgage
- File a caveat against the Title, at the owners expense
- Charge interest (up to 18% per year) on outstanding amounts
- Sue the owner for all outstanding contributions, interest and its full legal fees; and
- Foreclose on the Title to the unit
Q: What are the Reserve Funds?
The Condominium Property Act requires that condominium corporations establish and maintain a capital replacement reserve fund to provide for major repairs and replacement of property and common property owned by the corporation. As buildings age they need to be repaired and maintained, for example replacing the roof of the complex. The same is true of other parts of the common property such as the asphalt in the parking lot, underground utilities or services, and landscaping. Condominium owners must pay for the repair or replacement costs of the property owned by the corporation. The reserve fund is not used for repairs or replacements that are done annually.
Condominium corporations have two years from the date the condominium plan was registered to complete the initial reserve fund study and approve a plan. A reserve fund study of the depreciating property must be conducted at least every five years. The reserve fund study must:
- Identify what may need to be repaired or replaced within the period of the study, which must cover at least the next 30 years
- Assess the present condition of the property and estimate when it will need to be repaired or replaced
- Estimate the costs of repair or replacement of the property, at a cost no less than current costs
- Identify the life expectancy of a component if it is repaired or replaced
Q: Annual General Meetings & Voting Rights
At least 14 days’ notice is required for each annual general meeting, including the first one. Subsequent annual general meetings must be convened no later than 15 months after the immediately preceding annual general meeting.
Corporations may hold special general meetings with at least 14 days’ notice to the owners. Owners may request a special general meeting as long as owners representing at least 15% of the unit factors make the request in writing. The request must include the nature of the business to be dealt with at the meeting. If the board does not respond to this request, the owners may convene such a meeting.
You may exercise your right to vote personally or by proxy. A proxy may be in an electronic format or hard copy format.
To be valid, the proxy must contain the name and unit number of the owner giving the proxy, and the name of the individual who holds the proxy. The date the proxy is given must also be included. The owner giving the proxy must sign the proxy form. Your bylaws, and rules established by the board or the corporation, may provide more direction on how proxies work.
If you owe money to the corporation for 30 days or more on the day before a vote, you will lose your right to vote.
Owners can vote on matters presented at any general meeting and on bylaw changes, changes to the common property, and other matters permitted under the Act, regulation and the bylaws Owners can also vote to elect the board of directors and to change the bylaws.
Q: Living in a Condominium
When you own a condominium unit, you have the right to:
- Vote in matters presented to the owners for a vote
- Access common areas (subject to the bylaws)
- Obtain information on the management or administration of the corporation
- Use mediation, arbitration, or court action to resolve disputes with the corporation, the board, or other owners; and
- Legally challenge improper conduct of a developer, condominium corporation, employee of a corporation, director, or other owner
Along with having specific rights as a condominium owner, you also have the following responsibilities:
- To abide by the bylaws, and rules of the corporation, and to have your family, tenants and guests do so, as well;
- To pay all condominium contributions and assessments or levies on time
Q: Can someone enter my condo unit without my persmission?
No one may enter your unit without your consent or without giving you proper notice unless there is an emergency.
An emergency would include the provision of water, power, and heat, or any other service that would affect other owners.
If there is no emergency, you must be given at least 24-hours notice before someone can enter your unit to repair the problem. The notice must be in writing, state the reason for entry, and set a date and time for entry. The hours for entry are between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Q: How Do I Rent My Condo Unit?
The Corporation must be notified in writing of your intent, your future address, and the amount of rent that will be charged to the unit. You must name your tenant, in writing to the Corporation within 20 days after they take occupancy.
The corporation may require that you pay a deposit that could be used to repair or replace common property damaged by your tenant. The maximum amount of the deposit is $1000, or the equivalent of one month’s rent, whichever is higher.
The tenant is bound by the bylaws of the corporation. If your tenant contravenes the bylaws or damages the common property or the corporation’s property, the corporation can ask you to evict the tenant. It can also give the tenant and you the notice directly. You should give your tenant a copy of the bylaws at the beginning of the tenancy so they know the requirements they will have to follow.
Q: What Personal Information Does A Condo Corporation Keep On Me?
Condominium corporations are required to protect personal information under the Personal Information Protection Act. However, corporations can collect and use personal information that is reasonable for their business or required under the Condominium Property Act. For example, corporations can maintain lists of owners with contact information, record names in minutes for proper business purposes, and provide copies of those minutes to other owners or purchasers under the Condominium Property Act.
Condo Law for Albertans: https://www.condolawalberta.ca/about/
Canadian Condominium Institute, North Alberta: https://www.ccinorthalberta.com/
Canadian Condominium Institute, South Alberta: https://ccisouthalberta.com/
Real Estate Council of Alberta: https://www.reca.ca/
ADR Institute of Alberta (ADRIA): https://www.adralberta.com/
Alberta Queen’s Printer: https://www.qp.alberta.ca/
- Consumer Tips “Owning A Condominium Guide: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/consumer-tips-owning-a-condominium
- Condominium Unit Rentals Guide: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/condominium-unit-rentals
- Resolving Condominium Disputes Guide: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/resolving-condominium-disputes
- Condominium Special Levies: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/special-levies
- Condominium Rules, Bylaws, and Sanctions https://open.alberta.ca/publications/condominium-rules-bylaws-and-sanctions
- Updating Condominium Bylaws https://open.alberta.ca/publications/updating-condominium-bylaws