A recent article in the Toronto Star, Marco Chown Oved reported that residents of a condo building that caught on fire a few weeks ago will be out of their units for several months before the fire-damaged generator can be repaired. Some of the residents indicated that they did not have insurance coverage to cover the costs of alternate temporary accommodation. This was exacerbated by the fact that they were still required to pay their monthly common fees, even though they did not have access to their units. We expect that in many cases the residents didn’t ever address their minds to the possibility of this type of situation happening. Without fully understanding their obligations as an owner, they assumed that the obligation to pay common expenses would fall into abeyance until their units were habitable.
In order to avoid finding the residents of your condo in this unfortunate predicament, we suggest that boards and management communicate with owners so that they understand what proactive steps they can take. For many owners, especially those new to condominium home ownership, their failure to obtain adequate insurance may have resulted from a lack of awareness of their obligations and how to protect themselves.
Corporations that do not have a standard unit by-law in place should consider enacting one, so that in the event of damage it is clear what is the responsibility of the Corporation to insure and repair and what is the responsibility of the unit owners to insure and to repair.