Condo Act review includes better education for first-timers

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Adding even more discourse to an already hot topic, Canada’s Public Policy Forum released a report on Ontario’s Condominium Act Review at the end of September – which provides recommendations on how to better educate first time condo buyers.

“One of the fundamental things (of the report is) in Ontario and across Canada, the biggest issue is people not understanding what they are buying or what they have bought; people don’t understand what condominiums are and that is the root of problems in our industry,” Armand Conant, head of the condominium law group at Shibley Righton LLP told “They don’t understand that it is a wonderful way to live but that it comes with restrictions; they are marketed a lifestyle but not told about the restrictions. One part of the reforms, under consumer protection, focuses on education.

The reforms Conant – who is part of the panel or experts who put the recommendations forward -- refers to include specific areas that need to be looked at for the Condominium Act review.

“What the government did was break the reform into five categories – there were five themes; consumer protection, regulation and licensing of managers, governance, dispute resolution and finance,” Conant said.

The newest recommendations will form the foundation of the first overhaul of the Condo Act in over ten years, which has remained the same since it was last tweaked in 1998.

“The whole industry recognized that the condominium act that came out in 2001 – our present act – is a major improvement over the prior act,” Conant said. “But it’s old now, it was drafted in 1998; and there has been explosive growth in condominium development in that time.”

The three-stage review is currently in the second phase with the third set to commence this fall.

“In stage one of the review, hundreds of stakeholders owners, developers, property managers, and others met through the fall of 2012 to talk about their vision for a modernized Condominium Act. The Forum published the issues they identified in the stage one Findings Report. In stage two, launched in March 2013, stakeholder working groups and industry experts reviewed the stage one findings and developed recommendations for renewing the Act. In stage three, starting this fall, the residents' panel from stage one, together with the broader condo community, will have an opportunity to review the recommendations, after which MCS will draft an action plan on proposed changes to the Act.”

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