Q: I bought my condo in October 2014, and the building is six years old. Before buying my unit I reviewed all of the documents, including minutes. I have raised two separate issues with the board and received responses, yet there is no record of these issues in the minutes. As well, notices have appeared on our property about bylaw infraction fees increasing, yet there is nothing in the board minutes indicating that this was an issue or that there was a motion to change the dollar amount for bylaw infractions.
Should the minutes reflect every topic discussed so that owners are aware of all of the issues? Does establishing the fine for a bylaw infraction require a motion at a meeting? Finally, we have no bicycle storage, and the bylaws were amended to allow owners with underground parking to park their bikes at the front of their stalls without fines. However, not every unit has underground parking. There is a storage room that could be used as bicycle storage, but this board says it cannot. Is this fair?
A: First of all, the minutes should reflect the decisions of the board, but they are not a complete statement as to all of the discussions that occurred at the meeting. Therefore, some of the issues you have raised should be properly documented in the minutes. For example, if an owner raises an issue and it was discussed at the board meeting, the minutes should reflect the discussion and whether the issue was simply received for information or the board directed the property manager to do something about the particular issue.
With respect to the dollar amount for bylaw infractions, your bylaws will determine whether or not you can in fact impose a fine, and should also indicate what those fine amounts should be. Therefore, any change in the fine amount would probably require a bylaw amendment. It is difficult to give you a definitive answer on this question without reviewing your bylaws. Finally, with respect to the bicycle storage issue, I would have to review your condominium plan to determine whether or not the storage room could be used for such a purpose.
Helpful Hint: You appear to be very interested in the issues surrounding your condominium corporation. This is a good thing, and I would encourage you to be a part of the process and get involved by getting elected to the board.
Q: I own a condo unit which I have rented out to tenants for a number of years. I would like to join the board, but our bylaws prohibit me from sitting on the board because I do not live there. Is this legal?
A: The Condominium Property Act states that at least two thirds of the membership of the board of directors shall be unit owners unless the bylaws provide otherwise. Therefore, if your bylaws are silent on this issue, then the Condominium Property Act may allow for renters or absentee owners to sit on the board. You need to review your bylaws to answer your question.
Helpful Hint: There is nothing wrong with limiting tenants from the board. However, one should take care to figure out what the ultimate goal was when the exclusion was implemented. Do you want your condominium corporation to be inclusive?
Q: I live out of the country, and since 2013 have owned two condominium units in Edmonton. Our condo board held its annual general meeting (AGM) in March, and even though I had asked the property manager in January to notify me, they failed to do so. Thankfully, I was able to attend the AGM because another owner advised me of the date. Can I do anything about the fact that the property manager failed to notify me?
A: Most likely, you cannot do anything about this. The issue you have raised appears to be a bit of an administrative issue between the property manager and yourself. The property manager probably did not give you sufficient notice because you do not live in the country and they did not calculate the additional time needed to ensure that you received notice on a timely basis. Furthermore, you did attend the meeting and were not prejudiced in any way. Finally, I would suggest that you advise the property manager in writing of your desire to receive information on a timely basis and that they take into account the fact that you live outside of Canada.
Helpful Hint: Sometimes issues do not warrant any legal assistance, as miscommunication simply requires people to respect one another and find a solution.
Q: Would you please explain the need for quorum at scheduled meetings of owners pursuant to the Condominium Property Act (CPA), particularly with respect to a special resolution? If 75 per cent of the owners and unit factors do not attend a scheduled meeting to vote on a special resolution, what happens next?
A: In order to determine a quorum for a meeting of the owners, you need to look to your bylaws. Every condominium corporation in Alberta is different in this regard, as there is no set rule under the CPA. Some condominium corporations have a high threshold for quorum, while others use a very low threshold. With respect to a special resolution being approved, you are correct that you require 75 per cent of the owners and unit factors to support the change. If at a meeting you do not obtain the 75 per cent support, then the meeting will conclude with whatever support was garnered at that meeting. The board can then, over time, seek the approval of owners who were not in attendance at the meeting to try and get to the 75 per cent threshold. The vote does not need to conclude that night, unless your bylaws say so. It can be a drawn-out process, until such time as the board has deemed it at an end.
Helpful Hint: The CPA does not currently provide any real guidance in terms of how to deal with special resolutions and how long they should take in order to get them approved.
Previously published by 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.