“Another year over. And what have we done?” It has been a busy year for the condo industry in Ontario, while pandemic-related issues quietly took a back seat.
Globally, political, economic and environmental issues made headlines. Here at home, interest rates rose as the Bank of Canada tried to contain inflation. For the condo industry, the shortage of qualified, licensed condo managers remained a significant challenge as construction of much-needed housing was promised by all levels of government. The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) continued to issue decisions related to its jurisdictions that had been expanded in 2022. The Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO) maintained its proactive inspection process to monitor and assess whether managers and management companies were complying with statutory requirements. The CMRAO plans to expand the program in 2024.
As we say farewell to 2023, we look forward with anticipation to see what 2024 holds and the world prepares to take another cautious turn around the sun.
Here’s a look back at some key highlights of 2023
In response to the tragic mass shooting that took place in December 2022 at a condo in Vaughan, Ontario, ACMO, CCI-Toronto and the CAI–Canadian Chapter issued a joint statement in January 2023, on Violence and Mental Health in condos. The statement reinforced their collective commitment to: (i) identify areas for legislative reforms to better protect personal safety in condos; (ii) identify appropriate resources related to mental health and conflict de-escalation; (iii) develop and offer related educational programs for members; and (iv) support members and the community through education, events and advocacy.
- In April, three committees were struck to address concerns relating to mental health and violence in condo communities. The committees, made up of volunteer members from the condo industry, are: Legislation, Resources and Policy.
In January, in Mississauga Provincial Offences Court, the Condominium Management Authority of Ontario (CMRAO) took part in its first prosecution trial that brought charges against two defendants for “acting as a condominium management provider and for performing the services of a condominium management provider, in violation of s. 34(1) and 34(2)(b) of the Condominium Management Services Act (CMSA).”
- In May, a verdict was rendered which resulted in both defendants being found guilty on all eight charges of acting as a condo manager and a management services provider without a licence and related offences under the CMSA.
On April 3, the Ontario government introduced Bill 91, the Less Red Tape, Stronger Economy Act, 2023, which included amendments to the Condominium Act, 1998, to allow changes to temporary measures that were enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically for virtual meetings and electronic voting. These temporary measures were set to expire on September 30.
- Bill 91 received Royal Assent on June 8; legislative changes to the Condominium Act would take effect on October 1.
In September, the Ontario government removed two board members – the chair and treasurer – from the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) due to perceived conflict of interest. Two new board members were appointed shortly thereafter.
Changes to the Condominium Act took effect on October 1. These included amendments designed to modernize and make it easier for a corporation to implement processes for hybrid and virtual meetings, and electronic notices distribution. Most significant among the amendments is the allowance for a corporation to hold virtual meetings and permit electronic and telephone voting without the need for a by-law and confirming that advance voting counts towards quorum! We were strong advocates for these changes and started on this journey to effect these changes back in 2017.
- The COVID-19 pandemic compelled changes to in-person condo corporation meetings and, as a result, virtual meetings became the norm. Although the October 1, 2023 changes provide for virtual and hybrid meetings – and electronic voting – without a by-law, many corporations may already have a by-law in place setting out some additional requirements to ensure those meetings are run fairly and it is important to make sure that the procedures set out in those by-laws are adhered to. For those corporations that do not have a by-law for virtual meetings, it might still be wise to consider putting a by-law in place that ensures proper procedures for virtual meetings, electronic voting and proxies are followed.
- Also, effective October 1, 2023 condo corporations no longer require a unit owner’s consent to send notices by email, unless there is a by-law in place that prevents this. Unit owners will be able to opt-out of electronic communication of notices under the new framework.
Effective November 1, 2023 the CAO adopted an online payment system for annual assessment invoices and no longer accepts cheques. Corporations can use their established payment practices. Online payment methods accepted by the CAO are: direct deposit through a bank; credit card; debit Visa or Mastercard; and Google Pay.
From all of us at Lash Condo Law, we send best wishes your way for a safe, healthy, and happy new year – season’s greetings, happy holidays and Happy New Year.