HOAs in Canada

For good reason, the majority of our blogs focus on HOAs in Colorado.

However, there is much to be learned by looking at HOA operations elsewhere. This blog takes a look at some interesting points on HOA governance and oversight in Canada.

Ontario’s New Condominium Authority

Many homeowners and HOA industry professionals are very familiar with the fact that disputes happen within HOAs. Realizing that court may not be the best place to resolve many disagreements, Colorado legislators have made out-of-court arbitration a priority. Legislators in the Canadian province of Ontario seem to feel the same. In fact, proposed legislation goes as far as to create a special Condominium Authority to handle disputes, and also to provide other services.

The Condominium Authority will provide mediation services to owners, board members, or any combination of those to handle disputes outside of court. Ontario’s’ Consumer Services Minister says that this type of government-sponsored mediation will reduce the cost of dispute resolution from thousands of dollars to hundreds. Because about half of all new home sales in Ontario are condos, the Authority will also provide purchasing advice to buyers. As we know, not everyone cares to read important documents such as condo declarations and bylaws. The Authority will make it easier to digest all of that information. Funding for the Condominium Authority would be provided from fees imposed on developers and a $1 per month levy on condo owners.

Manager Licensing  

Ontario also seems to be on the same page as Colorado in that it will begin requiring licensure of the roughly 2,500 HOA managers in the province. A special government entity would be created to oversee licensure – the Condo Manager Licensing Authority. Similar to what we are seeing in Colorado, all management employees would need to be licensed after completing some kind of testing. What differs in Ontario is the implementation of a new code of ethics that would accompany the implementation of licensure legislation.

Alberta’s Condominium Property Act Amendments

In sharp contrast to what we have been seeing in Colorado in regards to construction defects, the Canadian province of Alberta’s Condominium Property Act gives shady developers an upper hand against property owners. Even proposed amendments to the Act, which are actually very close to becoming law, do not cure the issue. As the law stands, developers can walk away from unfinished projects leaving any owners that have purchased with the financial fallout of that decision. To avoid liability, developers can even create separate companies to avoid construction defect lawsuits. This is far different than in Colorado where ‘consumer protection’ laws are so stringent that condominiums are barely being built at all. From unfinished road paving and landscaping, to leaky roof and windows on new construction, Alberta law currently allows developers to get away with most anything. It is actually quite shocking. Follow this link for more information:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/condo-buyers-left-vulnerable-under-alberta-law-1.3095908.

The Comparison

The three topics discussed above are, of course, just a very small sampling of HOA issues in Canada. However, it is easy to see that there are many similarities between governance and oversight of HOAs between our country and theirs. Still, some issues, such as the construction defects issue in Alberta, is very different than consumer protection laws in the US; particularly in Colorado. Look for a more in-depth blogs on HOAs abroad in the future!