7 Things You Should Know Before Requesting Records From Your Condo
With the new amendments to the Condominium Act, there will be new rules and guidelines on how condominium corporations and unit owners will deal with records requests.
There has been recognition on the regulatory level that unit owners requests for records has been a pesky problem causing grief for condominium corporations and unit owners alike, neither of whom are particularly clear on what their rights and obligations are when a unit owner is seeking records. This is in part due to the fact that the Condominium Act originally enacted in 1998, was relatively untouched until the government recognized the need for clarity and began working on legislative reform in 2012.
In 2015 two major pieces of legislation were enacted, the Protecting Condominium Owners Act (an amendment to the original Condominium Act), and the Condominium Management Services Act, which have served to dramatically update and clarify a lot of the rules and regulations surrounding condominium living. We wrote an earlier blog about these changes.
The new legislation introduces an entirely new regime for record keeping and record requests. Starting November 1, 2017 records must be readily reproducible on request. Condo Boards will be required to decide the manner in which condominium records will be produced to unit owners.
1) Who Can Request Condo Records?
Any owner, mortgagee or purchaser can request records of the condominium, and an authorized agent on behalf of the owner can also request the records. The owner or agent is not required to reveal the purpose of the request, and the request can be made in either French or English.
The regulations will provide for a prescribed form which unit owners can use to make a records request and condominium corporations will have strict timelines within which to comply.
2) What Kind Of Records Can Be Requested?
Documents will be divided into two categories. Those considered “core” documents will include, the condo’s declaration, bylaws rules, annual budgets, and meeting minutes from the preceding 12 months. Other documents will be considered “non-core” documents which may include contracts with contractors, insurance documents, and many of the other documents related to the corporation.
Records which are not producible to unit owners on request include email addresses of owners, opinion letters from lawyers or paralegals on any legal matters the condo corporation is involved in and any records that affect the privacy of a specific unit owner or purchaser.
3) How Long Does The Condo Have To Maintain The Records?
Condo corporations will be required to maintain records for 7 years for any “non core” documents, beginning at the end of the calendar year in which the record was created (basically 8 years) and must permanently retain any “core” documents.
Ballots and Proxies are only required to be maintained for 90 days unless notice of a lawsuit is provided contesting the validity of the ballot or proxy, in which case such records must be kept for 6 months from the date of notice or, if a law suit is commenced, until the conclusion of the lawsuit.
4) Do I Have To Pay For The Records I Request?
Under the new rules the condominium corporation will not be able to charge for requests of “core documents” if the request is for an electronic copy. If the request is for a paper copy the charge is limited to $0.20 per page for the paper, and there can be no associated labour charge for retrieval of core documents.
If a request is made to have the documents provided electronically, and the condo corporation decides to supply the documents in printed format, they cannot charge the unit owner for those records.
For “non-core” documents, the condo corporation can only charge for labour the amount the corporation has been charged by the administrating property manager to retrieve those records for labour, and $0.20 cents per page for photocopying.
5) How Does My Request Get Processed?
Once the requesting unit owner or other authorized person submits the prescribed form to the condo corporation, the corporation has 30- days within which to advise of any applicable fee and estimate any photocopying fee that may apply. If the estimate turns out to be incorrect, a condo corporation can only charge 10% extra and if it is less than the estimate, the condo corporation must return any additional amount paid. Payment can be sought in advance of processing the request.
6) How Long Will The Condominium Corporation Have To Satisfy My Records Request?
There is another prescribed form with which the requesting unit owner can respond to the quote if there is an applicable fee. Records should be supplied within 7 days where there is no fee, and 30 days of payment being received where there is a fee. Condo corporations will have a total of 37 days within which to satisfy a request for any “core” documents and up to 60 days for any “non-core” documents.
7) What If The Condominium Corporation Doesn’t Comply With My Request?
The fines for non-compliance have also substantially increased under the new rules. The Condo Authority Tribunal (CAT) can charge the condominium corporation a penalty of anywhere between $500.00 to $5000.00 for failure to provide documents to a unit owner. The fine can be made payable at the discretion of the tribunal authority to the tribunal or to the person requesting the documents.
Research by the Condominium Authority indicates that disputes related to records disclosure seem to be the most common type of dispute that arises between unit owners and condo corporations. When the Condominium Authority Tribunal opens its doors in November – it will deal solely with these types of disputes at the outset before gradually expanding to offer resolution services to other types of disputes.
For more information check out the Condominium Authority (CAO) website at www.condoauthorityontario.ca.
Note that these rules go into effect for records requested as of November 1, 2017 and will not apply to any records requested before that date.
Have a condominium problem that you need help with? Call us to see if we can assist.