Alberta Condo Owners Rights
Condominiums commonly known as condos are the highly sought-after residential choice. Because of their convenient access to various amenities, lower maintenance, better security, and a sense of community, condos are the most popular choice among working professionals, single families, retirees, and old age people. Living in a condo is a unique experience in itself, it is a blend of individual ownership of a unit within a larger community that shares common spaces and responsibilities.
That is the reason why condo owners have a greater responsibility to maintain and contribute to the shared space. In this article, we will focus on the rights of a condo owner, because knowing your rights is not just about securing your interest, it’s the key to getting a harmonious and fulfilling condo experience. So if you are a condo owner or planning to be one this guide could be your compass!
Before delving into the specifics of your rights, let us first learn the basics of condo living in Alberta.
What is a condominium?
A Condo is a unique form of housing ownership where individuals own their specific unit within a larger complex or building. This means that you own your condo unit to which you get the title of ownership and you also jointly own the common property with another unit owner of the complex.
In simpler words, it means that you own a condo unit privately while the common areas and amenities within the complex are collectively owned and managed by all the unit owners through a condominium corporation.
Condos vs. Apartments vs. Townhouses
Condos offer ownership as well as community. You own your individual unit, complete with walls and fixtures, while sharing the common spaces with fellow residents. While apartments are units in a building owned by a landlord.
Apartments offer less autonomy as decision-making powers rest with the landlord. Townhouses, on the other hand, are multi-level homes that share walls with neighboring units but have individual ownership of both the unit and the land it sits on.
The legal framework for condo life in Alberta consists of two primary pillars: the Condominium Property Act and the Alberta Condominium Property Regulation.
The Condominium Property Act, 2000
This Act serves as a comprehensive blueprint for condo governance in Alberta. It establishes fundamental principles and procedures regulating the establishment, operation, and management of condominium corporations.
The Alberta Condominium Property Regulation
The Alberta Condominium Property Regulation acts as a supplementary document, providing detailed and prescriptive regulations that refine and further interpret the provisions of the Act.
What is a Condominium Corporation?
A Condominium corporation is created when the developer registers a condominium plan with Alberta’s Lands Titles office. A Condominium corporation once registered becomes a legal entity and can sue and be sued for damages. A condo corporation is governed by condo bylaws which are framed as per the above-mentioned laws.
Key parties in a Condominium Corporation
- Board of Directors
- Property Managers
- Professionals and Service Providers
To understand it more clearly we can think of a Condominium Corporation just like an incorporated company.
Now, as per the Condominium Property Act, condo owners possess a series of rights that are essential for their participation and governance
1. Right to Participate in Board Meetings
Condo owners have the right to actively engage in condominium board meetings, thereby contributing their viewpoints to discussions that impact the collective welfare of the community.
2. Right to vote
Condo owners have the privilege to cast their votes on crucial decisions affecting the condominium. An owner’s power to vote is determined by a unit factor assigned to their unit i.e. percentage ownership stake in the entire condo community. The aim of this right is to democratically allow every unit owner to have a say in important matters such as bylaw amendments, budget approvals, and the election of board members.
3. Right to access condominium documents and records
Owners have an accessibility right to essential condo documents and records such as financial statements, bylaws, meeting minutes, and other pertinent records. This access ensures transparency and enables informed decision-making.
4. Right to Stand for the Condo Board
Condominium owners have an equal opportunity to stand for election to the condo board. This right intends to empower them to actively participate in the governance and decision-making processes, advocating for the best interests of the community and contributing their skills and expertise to its management.
5. Right to Maintenance and Repairs
While the owners have the responsibility for any repairs and maintenance of their own uni, they have the right to repair and maintenance of common spaces and any issues that might be affecting their unit habitability.
A Condo corporation has a greater responsibility to provide a harmonious living environment to all the residents of the condo unit. Therefore for the upkeep of the shared spaces including the repairs and maintenance of common areas, facilities, and amenities, the corporation requires the owners to contribute a regular payment known as condo fees to cover these shared expenses.
This fee includes insurance as well as administrative expenses as well. However, sometimes unexpected expenses may arise for which you would be required to pay an extra fee, for this purpose the Board is required to pass a resolution that is accepted by the majority. As already mentioned above as an owner you have a Right to access and review the financial records of the corporation including budgets and reserve fund study.
The Condo board is responsible for maintaining a well-functioning community. The condo board elected by the owners oversees the management and operations of the condominium. On behalf of the community, the board is entrusted to make crucial decisions such as enforcing bylaws, managing finances, making budgets, and hiring property managers if necessary.
The owners have the right to participate in the management of the condominium. They should attend meetings, voice concerns and provide suggestions for improving the community space. Apart from this if the owners have any grievances they have the right to raise such concerns before the board.
Bylaws form the most important document for the condominium corporation. It governs the regulatory framework of governing condo living. This document outlines acceptable behaviors, restrictions, dispute redressal, board meetings, resolutions, rights and responsibilities, etc. Understanding this document before buying or renting a condo is important. Violation of these bylaws could have severe consequences including penalties, loss of privileges, or legal action.
Even after taking various measures to ensure a harmonious environment disagreements may arise. To ensure that harmony prevails and disputes are resolved effectively various mechanisms exist. However, before opting for these external mechanisms community members should try to resolve them through direct communication.
Other resolution mechanisms are as follows
1. Internal Procedure
Condo Corporations often have a dispute resolution mechanism. This can involve informal communications between parties.
2. Board Adjudication
The board if the bylaws empower can review complaints and act as an internal tribunal and issue binding orders.
3. Dispute Resolution Tribunal
The Alberta Condominium Dispute Resolution Tribunal (CDRT) is an independent entity for resolving condominium-related disputes. Any party whose dispute was not settled internally can approach the tribunal and seek redressal. Issues related to bylaws, finances, or governance can also be settled by approaching this tribunal. Based on evidence and hearing from both parties the CDRT issues a binding ruling.
4. Court Action
In case the dispute doesn’t get resolved through the above means and they are of a serious nature, then the owners can opt for legal action through the court system. This process however could be more costly and time-consuming.
In conclusion, as mentioned above Condo ownership has unique sets of rights and financial obligations understanding these is crucial before buying a condo. Condominium living is not just buying a home it is a lifestyle change as well. So before taking such an important decision make sure to know your rights and responsibilities and legal recourse in case of any dispute.
The Condominium Property Act, the Alberta Condominium Property Regulation and Corporation bylaws will be your three major sources to know about your rights as a condo owner. While the Acts give out general rights, the bylaws are specific to the particular condo corporation therefore it is more important to understand the bylaws. Reach out to Juriscorp Law’s real estate lawyers for a free consultation today.
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