Getting a Read on Condo Documentation
When it comes to the ins and outs of condo documentation, the details can sometimes be as complex and in-depth as the documents themselves – and if you’ve ever had to try and make sense of a post-tension cable report, well, you’ll know exactly what we mean!
That said, there is definitely a method to the madness of condo documentation. We’re lucky enough to have Fabrice Vermeer – Catalyst’s Director of Finance rockstar – to help us read between the lines and understand what’s what.
Five Key Condo Documentation Considerations
1. What Sorts of Documents Need to Be Made Available?
When it comes to condo documentation, there’s a large swathe of content that needs to be readily accessible at a condo owner’s request.
“When it comes to what sorts of documentation condo owners need to have access to,” Fabrice began, “there’s almost enough there to make a whole condo document just outlining the details!
“When it comes down to it,” Fabrice continued, “condo owners need to have access to:
- their building’s reserve fund study and any subsequent updates
- insurance certificate
- budgets and financials and any audits that get done
- any estoppel and disclosure/information statements (these are purchased items – more on that later!)
- meeting and AGM minutes
- bylaws and updates
- management agreements
- agreements on shared properties or amenities between buildings (i.e. particulars around things like shared parking garage agreements, etc.)
- post-tension cable reports, and more.”
Wow. You weren’t kidding, Fabrice – that’s one heck of a long list!
2. How Long Should Owners Expect to Wait for Condo Documentation – and What Does It Cost?
The guidelines are clear regarding how long owners should expect to wait for condo documentation.
“From the time a written request is made, a management company has ten days to provide them,” Fabrice stated. “With a small number of exceptions (namely around things like estoppels and disclosure statements), Catalyst provides these condo documents free of charge to any owners after them. This is not typical of condo management companies. But it’s worth noting that they are also available to sell to anyone who wants them so long as they have the condo plan numbers.”
That’s all certainly good information to have – who knew so much information was available with just a little cash to back that request up?
3. What’s the Best Way to Make that Content Available?
A ten-day turnaround window feels like a decent amount of time to produce a document or two – but when it comes to larger condo communities, it doesn’t take long for condo corporations (or their condo management companies!) to get bogged down with requests.
That’s where Catalyst’s innovative approach to condo management comes into play.
“We always recommend simply tossing those documents onto the building’s secure online condo portal,” Fabrice explained. “It removes a lot of legwork for the condo board – or condo management company, whoever is managing your condo docs – and allows owners and authorized individuals access precisely what they need, no wait times necessary!”
No fuss, no muss – sounds like the perfect way to go about things.
4. Let’s Talk About For-Pay Condo Documentation
It’s great to know that condo owners can access just about any condo document they’d be looking for at no cost – but what about those other documents Fabrice had mentioned, the ones that did have costs associated with them? Why would somebody be interested in paying for an estoppel certificate or disclosure statement?
“When you buy a unit, it’s always recommended to get an estoppel certificate,” Fabrice elaborated. “This document essentially confirms that there is no existing balance on that unit’s account – simply put, zero dollars are outstanding. But, unfortunately, there isn’t room for middle ground regarding an estoppel, either. A condo is either eligible for one or isn’t – a certificate cannot be issued if there is any money owing on that account.
An information or disclosure statement is a document that digs into the details of the condo building and corporation itself,” Fabrice continued. “Whether there are any legal actions against the condo corporation, any demands on the condo corporation that exceed $5000, any structural deficiencies, the current reserve fund balance, current condo fees, any outstanding special assessments – that sort of thing.
“A disclosure statement tells you all about the building, while an estoppel confirms that there is no money outstanding on the account,” Fabrice summarized on the subject.
5. Meeting Minutes – for AGMs and Otherwise
Finally, the last key condo document that takes a bit of a departure from the norm comes from the meeting minutes for a condo’s annual general meeting – or AGM and board meetings.
“In terms of meeting minutes,” Fabrice began, “a condo management company is required to store those documents, but the onus is on the condo board itself to create those minutes in the first place. Some on-the-ball management companies – like our team at Catalyst – will go the extra mile and take AGM minutes because of the importance of the information. However, your typical board meeting minutes are the board’s responsibility.”
“Then, at least two weeks before the next AGM,” Fabrice continued, “we’ll provide condo owners with an AGM package. It will typically include the following:
- the agenda
- a proxy voting form to fill out,
- a balance sheet/profit loss for the last completed fiscal year
- essentially, everything that allows people to come prepared to the meeting.”
Finally, all the ins and outs of condo documentation, documented! Thank you for your time today Fabrice Vermeer – we couldn’t appreciate it.
Have additional questions about condo documentation? Give us a call at Catalyst Condo Management!