Specific Legal Issues
So you Need to Update Your Condo Bylaws?
From the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of the CCI South Alberta CCI Review
The first question you probably have is, where do I go from here? Should I take some other condominium corporation’s bylaws and modify them for my corporation, or should I update them myself?
The answer is usually no. You should build your bylaws specifically for your corporation and use qualified and experienced professionals to do so, or your bylaws may not serve you as intended. Just as we all wear different-sized clothes, condo bylaws need to fit your condo.
Where do I go for advice?
Some condo managers are pretty knowledgeable, while some are just familiar with the most-used sections of the Condominium Property Act. There are government sources, law firms, and condominium associations that can provide good information on their websites. You will need to search for what you need and then interpret what you have found, which may not be easy. The process will require many hours of your time, and you may not see all the answers you are looking for.
Consultants and lawyers specializing in the Act and any applicable laws are invaluable and pay for their services many times over when you use them to update your bylaws. You want your bylaws to comply with the Act, stand up to a court challenge, and do what they were designed to do.
Should I use a consultant or a lawyer?
The answer is you should probably use both, depending on your need
Lawyers specializing in condominium property law can address all the legal questions you might have and create bylaws that will stand up in court when needed.
Consultants guide you through the process and ensure that you get bylaws that work for your corporation. Consultants minimize your costs by providing services that a lawyer may not be required for.
Consultants can follow up quickly and provide options and answers to many of your questions.
Update versus complete rebuild?
If your bylaws are old, have not been updated regularly, are non-compliant, or missing new changes to the Act, they may require a complete rebuild.
If your bylaws have been updated regularly and you want to add a new bylaw or update the recent changes to the Act, they may only require updating.
What will it cost?
The cost will depend on what you want to be done and how often you require revisions to each bylaw. Building new bylaws where the Act is silent takes time and research, which may mean extra costs.
Consultants and lawyers may charge a flat fee for services or an hourly rate. Consultants usually charge around $175 to $225 per hour, and lawyers charge around $350 to $450 per hour. You should budget a minimum of $7,500 and be prepared to go higher for an entire bylaw rebuild, depending on what you need. (Fees listed in this article are for budgeting purposes only and may not reflect your specific costs).
How long will it take?
How long it will take will depend on how long each group in the process returns the required information as the cycle continues. Eventually, the unit owners get to vote in a special resolution. After a successful vote on the updates, the land titles office will need to register the document before it is enforceable.
Expect it to take a minimum of 10 to 12 weeks or six to nine months, depending on how quickly each task is completed.
Who should be involved in the process?
You have your experienced consultant; you have your experienced condominium lawyer. You have a bylaw committee of three to five people made up of members of the board and some unit owners. Who else is left?
The most important person in this process is the rest of the unit owners. The unit owners will have the final say with their vote. If they are not happy with the revisions, they will not vote yes. All that work for nothing.
Get all unit owners involved in the process just before the vote so you can see what they are thinking. What may not be an issue to some unit owners may be a big issue to others. After getting the unit owners to tell you what they think, you can make revisions that will pass a special resolution vote.
Better bylaws make better-managed properties.
A proper set of bylaws will serve all unit owners well and save your corporation a lot of time and money. One successful court challenge of your bylaws may cover most of the costs of doing it right the first time.
By Gary Caouette, Bylaw Consultants
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