Should the board consult the owners before implementing changes ? (Part I)
We are often asked to advise condominium corporations on the extent of owner consultation required before the board can implement a change or proceed with extensive work on the common elements. Do owners need to be consulted, for instance, before the board renovates the lobby, hires an on-site superintendent, installs a BBQ in the garden, or installs a cell phone tower on the roof [on this topic, see my prior blog]?
Clearly, if owner approval were required for everything before a board could act, not much would ever get done. On the other hand, it may not be fair to let a handful of board members (as elected as they may be) impose on all other owners their views on what is required or desirable for the condominium.
In this series of posts, I will provide an overview of the board’s obligations (and the owners’ rights) when changes or extensive work is contemplated to the common elements or to the services provided by the condominium corporation.
The board’s legal obligations
Pursuant to section 17 of the Condominium Act, the condominium corporation has the duty to manage the property, its common elements and its assets on behalf of the owners. Sections 89 and 90 of the Act also provide that the corporation has a duty to maintain and to repair the common elements after damage has occurred (See our previous posts on this topic by clicking here or here). With aging buildings, the board must balance its statutory obligations with budgetary constraints and with the diverse wishes of owners.
The level of consultation required varies
The level of consultation required will vary greatly depending on the type of work or changes being contemplated:
- In some cases, no prior consultation is required and the board can go ahead.
- In other cases, prior notice must be given to the owners. It is then up to the owners to react or otherwise the change will be implemented or the work will go ahead.
- Finally, in some cases, the question must be put to a vote by the owners and even in these cases, the level of majority required will vary.
Depending on the question at hand, different quorums and different levels of owner approval are required. With all of these variables, it is no wonder that boards and owners will often have difficulty understanding their respective obligations and rights in relation to a specific situation.
In my next post, we will deal with decisions not requiring any consultation or prior notice to the owners.