Can Condo Owners seek Arbitration and Mediation?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc.,
Toronto's Changing Skyline
The Ontario Government has taken heed to a private members bill to reform the Condominium Act (1998) given that it is somewhat dated and creates a process that does not give owners the right to grieve or challenge decisions made by a Board of Directors.

Condominium Act Review and Public Consultation

The Ontario government recently announced that it would be undertaking a review of the Condominium Act and public consultation with condominium community stakeholders, including owners, residents, developers and property managers. 
A number of issues of concern were identified:
  • Consumer protection for condominium buyers
  • Condominium finances and reserve fund management
  • Condominium board governance
  • Accreditation of condominium managers
  • Dispute resolution
Since the Condominium Act, 1998 was enacted in 2001, there have only been minor changes to the legislation. In the same time period the number of condominiums being constructed has grown tremendously, with the GTA being the hot-bed of condo development in North America. 
The release of this press announcement seems to indicate that through the efforts of ACMO and CCI, the government is finally proceeding with a serious review of the legislative brief prepared by ACMO and CCI’s legislative committee.  The process of preparing the legislative brief involved representatives from the condominium industry coming together with recommended changes to specific sections of the Condominium Act.  A recent private member’s bill (which has been the focus of a lot of media attention)  proposed some amendments to the Condominium Act. While it was recognized that changes to the current legislation are needed, there were concerns in the condominium community that the private member’s bill was very limited in scope and introduced without consultation and input from all major stakeholders in the condominium industry. With the government’s announcement we expect that the private member’s bill will not be moving forward.

The Legislation if enacted will have addition reach for Condominium Owners for dispute resolution and mediation.  Unfortunately this may mean that Condo boards may be forced into lengthy legal proceedings only to hear a grievance that is one sided in favour of the applicant and not in the general interest of all condominium owners as a whole.

There are many provisions within the Condo Act and the Declarations that need clarification and testing on a building by building basis.  These now include interpretation of permitted vehicles, Work Place and Safety Issue as well as Harassment Provisions under Bill 160. The condo building is an employer and has staff on site.

Condo Boards are  not for profit corporations. They have audited Financial Statements and most (larger) buildings have on site experienced Management Companies. All Condo Boards retain legal counsel as a course of running their buildings. As an aside about Reserve Fund Studies and Is there enough money in the fund? Do we need another layer of government to oversee Condo Boards?

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