Canada: Board Members Must Follow Same Rules As Other Owners

Last Updated: January 2 2015
Article by Robert Noce

Q: When an owner, who is also a condo board member, fails to comply with the bylaws or the Condominium Property Act, fines are imposed. Who is required to pay those fines if it is found that the board member did not act in good faith — the condominium corporation or the board member?

A: If an owner, who is also a condo board member, did something contrary to the bylaws of the condominium corporation and fines were imposed, then that owner is responsible for the fines. The condominium corporation cannot pay fines on behalf of a board member. Whether the board member is acting in good faith or not is immaterial to the fact that the owner is responsible for their own fines.

Helpful hint: Board members are not exempt from complying with the law.

Q: Last winter, a pipe in my townhouse condominium froze, but there was no damage to my unit. The former maintenance person told me that he repaired two other units, as the cold air is entering from outside and freezing the pipe. These incidents were not reported, and the condominium corporation says I must hire a plumber to insulate the pipe as the issue originates in my unit only. I can insulate the pipe underneath the sink, but is it my responsibility to find where the pipe runs, rip up the floors, and insulate the entire pipe? What happens if it still freezes?

A: I am assuming that you live in a traditional condominium building. (My answer may be different if this were a bare land condominium.) In the traditional type of condominium building, an owner is generally responsible for everything within their walls, ceiling, and floor. Therefore, if the pipe is in your unit and you can insulate it, then you should do so. With respect to piping underneath your floor, I would suspect that would be the responsibility of the condominium corporation. One would have to review your condominium plan to determine who is responsible for what.

Helpful hint: The condominium plan, together with your bylaws, will set out the roles, obligations and duties of owners and the corporation.

Q: Our condo building has carpeting throughout, except for tile in the lobby. Our reserve fund study mentions flooring as a category, but there is no money allotted for it. I assume we can use reserve fund money to replace the severely damaged tile. Is this correct?

A: Without reviewing your reserve fund study, I would say your assumption seems logical. If the category is broad enough to include the carpeting and tiled areas, then your use of that money would be appropriate. Someone should review the reserve fund to confirm this.

Helpful hint: Reserve funds can be used only in accordance with the Condominium Property Act and the regulations under the Condominium Property Act.

Q: The parking, storage, balconies, etc. in our condo building are not titled, but are common property controlled by the board and assigned for use to owners. Some owners have been renting assigned property to other owners, and I feel that this is unethical. Some owners have access to tandem parking spaces, and rent out one. I have two cars and have asked the board to assign a tandem spot to me, but the board has refused my request. What can I do?

A: Your question is difficult to answer because it would require a thorough review of how the parking stalls are dealt with in your building. Do people have exclusive use agreements? I would also have to review your bylaws. Therefore, your question is too specific to provide an answer.

Helpful hint: Boards need to seek appropriate legal advice to ensure that what they are doing is lawful.

Q: I am the president of a self-managed condo, made up of 18 units. We have joined the Canadian Condominium Institute to network. I would like to know if there is anywhere that we can go to get some guidance on condo management issues. So far, we are doing quite well with no current disputes or issues.

A: You may want to consider hiring a management company to assist you with issues as they arise. You have indicated that you do not need help with your day-to-day issues, but perhaps you could put a management company on retainer and call them when needed.

Helpful hint: You may also want to consider putting a lawyer on retainer so that you have someone on hand to deal with legal issues when they come up. Remember that there is a difference between management and legal issues.

Originally published in The Edmonton Journal

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Robert Noce
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