Condo Review Switches Into Gear

condominium act

The review of the Condominium Act, 1998 in Ontario is kicking into gear as the first information session regarding the review kicks off.

The Ministry of Consumer Services says the first public information session with regard to the review will be held on Wednesday at the Central YMCA building on Grosvenor Street in Toronto.

The meeting will be attended by Margaret Best, Minister of Consumer Services and Kathleen Wynne, MPP for Don Valley West.

Since the original Act was introduced, the market for condominiums has changed dramatically.

For one thing, a lot more people now live in them. Throughout Ontario, the government says the number of people now living in condos is greater than one million. Given a doubling of building activity levels in high-rise apartments over the past two years (Statistics Canada data), this number is set to grow.

Secondly, the market has become more complex. Many types of condominiums now available – including mixed-use condominiums (residential and commercial), hotel condominiums, townhouse condominiums, retail condominiums and condominium conversions – did not exist when the original Act was introduced.

condo wtcBecause of this, a number of issues and problems have emerged. These include:

  • an increasing number of absentee investor owners and landlords, presenting challenges with regard to quorums at owner meetings
  • unhappy experiences with buying new units, including unexpected costs following developers’ handover
  • sudden increases in maintenance fees
  • misunderstandings about the condominium lifestyle, rights and obligations
  • a lack of a fast and easy way to resolve disputes
  • lack of familiarity with regard to duties and obligations on the part of property managers and boards – who are often in charge of multi-million dollar budgets
  • the emergence of condos as the GTA’s fastest growing form of rental accommodation.

Already, the Ministry says, work done by organisations such as the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario and the Canadian Condominium Institute-Toronto and Area Chapter, has identifies a number of perceived problems in areas such as board governance, dispute resolution, condominium finances and reserve fund management, consumer protection for buyers and the expertise/accreditation of condominium managers.

As the first stage of the review, public meetings such as the one on Wednesday are being held to gauge stakeholder perceptions about current issues with the Act.

Subsequent stages will involve creation of a residents’ panel, who will work to determine key issues. These issues, in turn, will be examined by an expert panel, which will provide recommendations as to any required changes to the Act by the end next summer.

By Andrew Heaton
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