Q: My condo complex consists of 12 units and has been
successfully managed by the board for the past four years. The
water shut-off valves for the buildings are located inside two
private units, and this cannot be changed. Recently, one unit owner
(where one water shut-off valve is located) refused access to the
plumber. This caused inconvenience to another resident and raises
the question of the board's legal right to enter a unit
containing vital infrastructure in the event of an
A: The condominium corporation may have the
right to enter a unit without the consent or notice of the owner if
it has reasonable grounds to believe an emergency is occurring. The
issue then turns on who determines whether a situation is in fact
an emergency. The issue is not black and white.
Helpful hint: Given the seriousness of
this issue, I would encourage you to retain a lawyer to give the
corporation a definitive opinion on this, to protect not only the
condominium corporation but also the individual board members, when
in fact they do need to act in an emergency.
Q: I am a first-time condo buyer. During construction, I
asked to have laminate installed in the two bedrooms of my unit, as
opposed to carpet, but the developer refused, citing noise
concerns. The developer then said that I can do whatever I want
after I take possession. This does not sound right to me. If I
cannot install the laminate now, why would it be OK for me to do it
A: The developer's response sounds odd to
me, and I have to wonder whether the developer has noise concerns
(which are valid) or cost concerns (a separate issue). While it is
true that laminate flooring can cause a noise issue, especially to
the unit below, this is a difficult question to answer without
knowing more facts. For example, sometimes flooring finishes are
specified in the condo's bylaws.
Helpful hint: When putting together
your purchase agreement for a new condominium unit, you can
incorporate specific finishing selections.
Q: I am the newly elected president of our
homeowners' association, an active adult community of
semi-detached bungalows. We have maintenance fees for snow removal
and lawn maintenance, but we do not have condo fees. Are we
governed by the Condominium Property Act, or is there separate
legislation that governs homeowners' associations?
A: You are not governed by the Condominium
Property Act, as it does not apply to homeowners' associations
at all. Rather, you are governed by an agreement that should be
registered on everyone's title. The agreement should set out
how fees are to be collected and list the responsibilities of the
Helpful hint: If you live in a
condominium or a homeowners' association, it is important to
understand the rules and how you are to govern yourself.
Q: I have been a member of my condominium board for
eight years, and have amassed a wealth of electronic history of the
corporation on my home computer. If I retire this fall, what are my
responsibilities with respect to the information I have collected
and stored on my home computer? Do I have a responsibility to
return all data from my hard drive to the board of directors, which
includes emails from the property manager and board
A: The short answer to your question is yes.
The information that you have collected over the past eight years
belongs to the condominium corporation, not to you personally. Your
personal notes and any other information that you have prepared for
your own personal use relating to the condominium corporation
belongs to you. However, if you were the collector of all of the
information on behalf of the condominium corporation, then you have
a responsibility to return that information once you have left the
Helpful hint: Condo boards should
consider implementing a policy in terms of how to deal with issues
relating to information that is collected over a period of
Originally published in The Edmonton Journal
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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