March 4, 2024 - Blog Post

Expectations of Condominium Owners

While our previous blogs emphasized the benefits of board membership, it's evident that only a fraction of owners take on this responsibility.  Equally concerning is the lack of engagement from many owners in the operation of their condominium corporation.  However, there are several expectations every corporation has of its owners.  These expectations are:

  1. Payment of Fees: Owners are obligated to pay on-time regular condominium fees, which cover maintenance, repairs, insurance, utilities, and amenities.  If not already doing so, see if your owners will consider using auto debit for their fees.  It will make collection easier overall and ensure the corporation has adequate funding for its operations.
  2. Compliance with Rules and Regulations:  Owners must adhere to the rules and regulations set by the condominium corporation, covering areas like noise levels, pet policies, and parking regulations. It's crucial for new owners to thoroughly understand and abide by these rules. Consider giving new owners and renters a copy of the Common Element Rules (CER) and an orientation of the building including a review of the Common Element Rules when they first move in.  Unfortunately, for many different reasons, some owners and renters will on occasion disrespect the rules.  When owners don’t comply, first consider talking with them, explaining the rationale behind the rules and see if you can get their cooperation.  If they still refuse to change their behaviour, the board can seek legal options starting with the dispute resolution process (see here).  Depending on the infraction and the challenge a board is facing, it is advisable to seek legal advice before proceeding with legal action.  If it is a renter misbehaving, you want to ensure the owner is aware and see if they can get the renter to comply.  The owner is responsible for the renter’s behaviour.  An owner struggling with a renter can take steps through the Residential Tenancies Act (see here).  If  the infraction is serious enough and the renter continues the infraction and the owner does not take appropriate action, the board can take action  to evict the renter through the Residential Tenancies Act (see here).
  3. Participation in Meetings:  Owners are encouraged to attend and actively participate in condominium corporation meetings, including annual general meetings and special meetings.  Achieving quorum can be challenging, but proper notice and reminders can help encourage attendance.  Remember, quorum requires 30% of the Common Elements (CE) not necessarily number of people (see here).  Moreover, people today are busier than ever and, combined with the distractions that people confront every day, it is not surprising that people often forget meetings.  Anything you can do to remind them such as posting physical notices in frequented areas of the building or common areas, particularly the day before and the day of the meeting can help to get better attendance.  Remind your owners that these meetings provide an opportunity for owners to voice their concerns, vote on important matters, and stay informed about the management and financial status of the condominium corporation.  Keep your meetings short and on point.   I will write more on conducting effective meetings in a future blog.
  4. Maintenance of Individual Units:  Owners are responsible for maintaining their units, including repairs, renovations, and compliance with architectural guidelines. They should inform the property manager of any major work to minimize disruptions for other residents and to ensure compliance with the rules.
  5. Respect for Common Areas: Owners must respect and care for common areas such as hallways, lobbies, and recreational facilities, following rules for cleanliness, use, noise levels and smells.
  6. Contribution to Reserve Fund: Owners may be required to contribute to a reserve fund, ensuring funds are available for major repairs and replacements of common elements. It is imperative that for those corporations (10 or more units) requiring a Reserve Fund Study (RFS) that it is up to date and well understood by the owners. While boards do not have to follow the RFS slavishly as to when items are repaired or replaced, their decisions must be reasonable, rational, and easily defended. For example, boards may decide to delay a roof replacement if the current roof is still in good condition. For major work you may want to consult an engineer to ensure the work being contemplated is necessary and done appropriately.

  7. Communication with Management: Owners should promptly communicate any concerns or issues regarding the condominium complex to the management or board of directors.  Similarly, the board and the property manager should ensure good communication with the owners about any issues, concerns, or work being done.
  8. Compliance with Local Laws and Regulations: Owners must adhere to all relevant local laws and regulations governing condominium living, including building codes and health and safety standards.

In summary, condominium owners play a vital role in the effective management and operation of their condominium corporation.  Their cooperation and participation are essential for maintaining a harmonious and well-functioning community.

Michael Kennedy
CCI Nova Scotia


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