Protecting Condominium Owners Act

Condo law reforms to roll out as early as summer

Administrative authorities also expected to be up and running with basic services
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
By Michelle Ervin

Ontario’s condo law reforms, passed late last year, are expected to start to roll out as early as next summer.

Updates at the ACMO/CCI-T Condo Conference in Toronto last week clarified comments in Premier Kathleen Wynne’s September mandate letter to new Minister of Government and Consumer Services Marie-France Lalonde. The letter set a fall 2017 deadline for implementing “key elements” of the Protecting Condominium Owners Act.

“We have traveled a long way on the condo file and we are nearing the finish line,” said Min. Lalonde in a pre-recorded video message to Condo Conference attendees.

The provincial government launched a public review of Ontario’s outdated condo laws in 2012. Over the span of 18 months, the three-stage review identified key issues, produced proposed solutions and received public input. Following which, the government introduced Bill 106, the Protecting Condominium Owners Act.

“The feedback received during the consultation process formed the foundation of Ontario’s new condo laws, and we continue to engage condo industry experts, condominium communities and the general public as we move forward to implement this important legislation,” said Min. Lalonde.

The Protecting Condominium Owners Act will reform rather than replace the Condominium Act and introduce the Condominium Management Services Act.

The existing Condominium Act will remain in force in its current form until the Protecting Condominium Owners Act, which received royal assent last December, is proclaimed into force. Before that happens, the government needs to finalize the accompanying regulations and establish two administrative authorities.

The Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) will provide public education, maintain a registry of the province’s 10,000 condominium corporations and administer a tribunal tasked with quickly and cost-effectively settling common disputes, primarily between condominium corporations and owners. The Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO) will be responsible for licensing and regulating both condominium managers and condominium management companies.

“The set-up of both the authorities is well under way and we anticipate that both will be up and running and providing basic services by this summer,” said Lalonde.

Formed on July 1, the not-for-profit administrative authorities have yet to be certified but have their first boards in place. They are working under the stewardship of interim executive leader Robin Dafoe, who previously served as director of corporate policy and tribunal relations at the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Aubrey LeBlanc is chair of the board of the CMRAO. LeBlanc is also the vice-chair of the interim board of the Bereavement Authority of Ontario, former CEO and registrar of Tarion, and sat on the expert panel for the Condominium Act review. Also on the CMRAO board are John Oakes, a veteran of condominium management and past president of the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario, as well as senior public servants Joan Andrew and Gail Beggs.

Tom Wright is chair of the board of the CAO. Wright is also chair of the interim board of the Bereavement Authority of Ontario, former CEO of the Real Estate Council of Ontario and past Information and Privacy Commissioner for Ontario. Also on the CAO are dispute resolution consultant Genvieve Chornenki, Frank D’Onofrio, distinguished public servant in Ryerson University’s Department of Politics and Public Administration, and condominium lawyer Armand Conant, who sat on the expert panel for the Condominium Act review.

Its work may not be visible to the public right now, but Conant assured Condo Conference attendees that ministry staff is busily drafting regulations. These anxiously awaited provisions will spell out the many “prescribed requirements” referenced in the legislation, which is designed to make future reforms easier.

“We hope — we don’t have any guarantees, but we’re all working very hard — that the regs will be coming out over the next number of months for our review,” he said. “All stakeholders, everybody in the industry, will be invited to participate, and if everything works well, it will be law by hopefully the end of the summer or fall of 2017.”

Conant added that it’s also hoped that there will be a phased transition to some aspects of the legislation and regulations.

In the meantime, participants in the Condo Conference’s Rapid Fire Legal Issues panel shared some insight into what may be coming.

Conant said that the CAO’s dispute resolution services could include a comprehensive online tool, modeled on similar systems in jurisdictions such as B.C. However, much like the anticipated time frames for rolling out the legislation, there are no promises.

Real estate lawyer Stephen Karr noted that Bill 106 will mandate the registering of shared facilities agreements that meet prescribed requirements. He said a likely requirement will be that separate meters be installed where possible.

Condominium lawyer James Davidson said he expected to see the regulations expand the reserve fund study period from its current minimum of 30 years to 45. There is a steep contribution increase when major replacements move from outside to inside the 30-year study period, he explained.

Whether these features and provisions materialize remains to be seen. Conant said to watch for the release of the regulations and the launch of websites for the CAO and CMRAO.

In her closing remarks, Min. Lalonde said: “There’s still important work to be done as we press ahead and we are looking forward to continued collaboration with you as we move forward.”

Michelle Ervin is the editor of CondoBusiness.

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