Specific Legal Issues
The CAT Jurisdiction Expanding: Another Perspective
From the CCI Review 2021/2022—November 2021 issue of the CCI London Chapter
This perspective is offered primarily as an owner of a condominium unit, although my experiences as a former director and a retired condominium manager (albeit not during a pandemic) did hold some weight.
It would be helpful if all boards and owners familiarized themselves with the CAT Rules, Policies and Guides. The most frequent disputes have involved those relating to requests for records that condominium corporations are required to keep under the Act and which owners are entitled to access.
In reviewing many of the cases that have come before the CAT, I appreciate that condominium owners have opportunities to get condominium-related disputes resolved conveniently, quickly and affordably. It is important that we can protect our investments as best we can.
At the same time, I also appreciate that boards and managers would experience a certain amount of frustration as a result of receiving frequent requests for records that owners would have received, possibly more than once. Given the substantial investment owners make in their unit, I am baffled that they need to request records that they would have received in the normal course of the corporation doing business. However, that does not excuse the boards and managers from providing a response to the request
While I understand there may be legitimate reasons owners don’t have the records, such as they did not own a unit during that period in question, I’m not unfamiliar with requests where owners don’t attach the appropriate importance to the records they do receive and should keep on file for reference.
The Status Certificate
Potential buyers very often assume their realtor knows everything there is to know about the condominium unit and the corporation and to be a singular advisor. That is rarely true and s/he should be totally up front about it and recommend the appropriate professionals to assist.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that every buyer secure and review a Status Certificate personally prior to finalizing the purchase of a condominium so there are no surprises after the fact. This would provide them with the first important set of documents to keep if the purchase is finalized because they relate specifically to the unit and corporation. Surely, it is a large package that most owners tremble at the thought of having to read. I get that. The Status Certificate is even bulkier than it was when we purchased 20 years ago.
After personally reviewing the Status Certificate, it is recommended to have professional assistance such as a legal counsel. Potential buyers might assume their legal counsel has carried out a page by page review on their behalf. That isn’t likely to be even feasible as very often, owners are in a hurry to close. Legal counsels are more inclined to review only that which is within a legal perspective disclosed in the Status Certificate as it falls within the normal scope of the legal services.
For example, your legal counsel might include specific rules that would apply directly (pets, parking); information relating to common expenses for the unit; special assessments that may have been or may be levied by the board; audited financials, as well as current budget; information on insurance for the corporation; management services; minutes to the last Annual General Meeting; the most recent Reserve Fund Study.
A review of the Ontario Condominium Buyers Guide will give potential new buyers, and even those who are repeat owners, up-to-date and key points that will help in the purchase process of a condominium, as owners and directors on the boards, and especially as new material becomes available.
Owners should also review the condo corporation’s insurance coverage, limits and deductibles to make sure their own home insurance policy will cover that which they will be responsible for. It is important that owners be reminded that the corporation’s policy does not cover personal property and betterments within the unit. Consultation with an expert insurance provider is recommended.
Records Request Process
At any time an owner wishes to make a Request for Records, there is an official form which can be found on the website A description of Core and Non-core records can be found here.
Something for owners to consider: These times have made it so that boards and managers are overwhelmed by the administrative tasks required each day to respond to the duties they have to adhere to the Condominium Act, responding to emails from owners, attending to maintenance issues where there is a shortage of supplies and contractors, and the list goes on.
However, in this day of technology, it should be relatively straightforward to have the most sought after documents online for quick distribution to owners when requested. Owners should then maintain their own directory of all documents related to their unit and corporation.
In order to make the process more manageable for owners, as well as for boards and managers, familiarity with the corporation’s documents, the CAT Process and retaining core records can be more than helpful for everyone.
As the CAT jurisdiction over disputes expands, notice will be made on their website. Here is the link to review what disputes are currently covered.
Check us out on Social Media
We all should have a continuing appetite for education in condominiums, as owners, directors, managers and even as those who work within the condominium arena. The review of CAT cases can be illuminating. The chapter has been posting cases and their outcomes on social media on Mondays for your review. Check them out. The information therein will assist us all on how to respond, the analysis and the orders that the Tribunal can assert, including as it relates to the costs and penalties that might be ordered. All of the process involved is important for boards and managers to be aware of.
“Education is one thing no one can take away from you.”
Trish Kaplan, CCI (Hon’s) is the current part-time Administrator for CCI-London and Area Chapter, having served in the position from April 2003 to September 2010. She received the CCI Distinguished Service Award from CCI National in November 2006. Trish was also a Director on the CCI Board from 2010-2015 when she was subsequently returned to the position of Administrator.
Trish is a condominium owner, served on the Board of Directors of the condominium she resides in for a time and a retired condominium manager.
Her experience in the different areas of condominium continues to be a benefit to the chapter and its members.
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