On November 26, 2019, the Alberta Government released the long-awaited, newly-revised amendments to the Condominium Property Regulation, and proclaimed that certain sections of the Condominium Property Amendment Act, SA 2014, c. C-10 will also come into force on January 1, 2020. The majority of the revisions in this phase of the amendments addresses governance issues, and will directly affect all condominium boards and unit owners in Alberta.
You can view the announcement here: “Cutting red tape for Alberta condos”.
Service Alberta, under the direction of the honourable Minister Nate Glubish, responded to calls from condominium boards, unit owners and property managers alike to “cut the red tape”, which quickly followed the release of the previous regulatory amendments last December.
According to the announcement, the revised regulations “incorporate feedback from a review with stakeholders held over the summer”. Modifications were made to everything from disclosure of information, to the process for organizing and convening annual general meetings (AGMs).
The following are some of the key changes in the revised regulations that will reduce the administrative burden on condominium boards:
- Proposed requirements, such as pre-AGM notices and calls for agenda items from unit owners, have been removed from the new Regulations (although this still appears in the revised Appendix Bylaws, and will apply if a condominium corporation does not have their own registered bylaws).
- The obligation of boards to provide unit owners with copies of the minutes of all board meetings held during the year along with the AGM notice has also been removed.
- Similarly, the confusing specifications regarding voting by co-owners have – thankfully – been eliminated in the new version of the Regulations, while clarifications over the creation and certification of proxies have largely been maintained.
- There is also a broader list of “qualified” reserve fund study providers which may make it easier and less costly to obtain these essential documents. The period of time covered by reserve fund studies has been increased, from 25 to 30 years.
- The tariff of fees chargeable by condominium corporations and property managers for the production of documents upon request has been increased somewhat to better reflect the actual costs involved with providing various documents.
There is also a new regime addressing monetary sanctions, which sets out the process boards must follow in order to impose fines on unit owners who fail to comply with the bylaws. Some might argue that this process remains too onerous, especially when there is still no effective means to enforce payment of the fines themselves.
Not all the changes were administrative, however. Other notable revisions were made to the damage deposit provisions for rental units. These are now expressly treated as common expenses assessment, meaning that payment can be enforced in the same manner as monthly condominium fees.
One of the most significant amendments, unchanged from the last version of the Regulations, is the requirement for condominium corporations to adopt and file with the Land Titles Office “standard insurable unit descriptions”. These will be used to determine what is, or is not, an improvement to the unit, and may be very helpful in preventing disputes with unit owners and insurers should the corporation suffer an insured loss.
The new Regulations confirm the ability of condominium corporations to charge back the amount of an insurance deductible to a unit owner where damage originates from that owner’s unit or from any exclusive use area assigned to that owner, if the corporation’s bylaws so provide. Courts have long held that this is permissible if the bylaws allow for it, but the practice has now been given legislative approval. The amount of the deductible is also recoverable as a contribution for common expenses (up to a maximum of $50,000.00).
Finally, there are some new provisions concerning caveats, although a few of these merely codify what the courts in Alberta have already held (for example, caveats cannot be registered in respect of unproven fines, but only following a judgment in respect of the fines). One unexpected change is that there is now a cap on what constitutes “reasonable” expenses in terms of caveat preparation, registration, enforcement and discharge. These amounts can be collected like a contribution, but the aggregate, maximum amount of the expenses that are collectible may not exceed the original amount owing in respect of the unit.
Condominium corporations will still have one year in which to pass an ordinary resolution (as opposed to a special resolution) to bring their bylaws into compliance with the amendments. This process is limited to bylaw amendments that address actual conflicts, however, and cannot be used to approve other changes to the bylaws. In that case, a special resolution will still be necessary.
For legal advice on how these changes will affect your condominium corporation, and what steps it must take to comply with the new requirements, please contact Erin Berney.
Our team at Field Law is able to provide expertise and assistance with all manner of condominium-related issues, from development, management and governance to dispute resolution and litigation. In particular, please contact Erin Berney or Paul Girgulis in Edmonton, or Gordon Van Vliet, Anthony Burden or John Gilbert in our Calgary office.