Is Your Board Onboard with the Alberta Condo Property Act?

It’s here. It’s here. It’s FINALLY HERE. The Alberta Condominium Property Act has, after more than five long years, finally been passed into legislation, coming into effect on January 1, 2020. What a journey it took to get here! For those who haven’t been following along (and for those who have, but whose memories simply get foggy trying to look that far back in time), the Alberta Condo Property Act was itself the result of years of unsuccessful attempts to get the government to re-examine condo legislation in Alberta.

They ultimately agreed to do so in December 2014, and what followed were years of consultations, deliberations, and debates. Finally, when it looked like everything was coming together and we’d finally get the changes we’d been promised for so long, the Alberta government announced it was putting a hold on the legislation on June 27, 2019 – just days before it was meant to come into force on July 1, 2019. The industry was aghast, but could realistically do nothing but wait for the new date the government had proposed for this legislation to come into effect: January 1, 2020.

The day finally came, and the condo community could hardly believe it – the new legislation had gone through! Change had happened! Which begs the question: is your condo board caught-up with the new specifics outlined by the Alberta Condo Property Act?

The Alberta Condominium Property Act: The Cliff’s Notes Version

If you’re not quite sure whether your board has updated its own practices to reflect the new operating procedures dictated by the Alberta Condo Property Act, we’re happy to help you sort things out. Here, in an incredibly brief and condensed format, are some of the biggest changes that the Alberta Condo Property Act has brought to condo legislation in our province:

  • Condo bylaw updates. Right off the bat, the Act provides a one-year window for condos to update their bylaws to comply with the new legislation. We definitely would recommend jumping on these changes sooner rather than later, though.
  • Standard Insurable Unit Description. To level-set with owners and insurers, condo corporations will now need to provide a Standard Insurable Unit Description (SIUD) to both of these key parties, which will act as a north star for determining what the condo corporation’s insurance will cover – including any standard fixtures and finishings.
  • Dispute resolution. The Condo Property Act updates provide a designated set of options for resolving disputes with condo boards and condo property management, while still maintaining the self-governing nature of condo corporations in Edmonton, Calgary, and the province at large.
  • Reserve fund studies. Within the Condo Property Act amendments are new stipulations regarding qualifications required for reserve fund study providers, as well as new requirements for reserve fund studies themselves.
  • Condominium unit rentals. The Act makes clear that condo corporations cannot create bylaws that disallow owners from renting their units, but also outlines specifics that condo owners must fulfill before moving forward with a rental.

Wow, that’s a whole lot to take in! Now, let’s dig into a few of the more important bits, shall we?

What You Absolutely MUST Know

The following three are what we consider to be the three most important take-aways for you to start focusing on:

  • Insurance premium increases. Insurance premium increases and details surrounding the need for insurance are discussed within the Alberta Condo Property Act. This section of the CPA is far and away the one that will impact people the most, at least in a financial sense. Since the Act has gone into effect, we’ve been often asked the question, “Will I need to change my insurance?” and the answer is almost always, “Yes! Probably.” Now, that being said, most insurance companies will reach out and let you know about any increases, and these increases will typically happen during a policy renewal, and not in the middle of an agreement. However, companies can and will make changes mid-policy in some instances, so your best bet is to stay vigilant and keep tabs on your premium payments whenever they come out. Why are your fees going up? Well, the best answer we can give is the impact to the market that the downturn’s caused over the past few years. Not a great one, we know, but we’ll leave it up to the insurance agents to defend the insurance industry.
  • Condominium documents. The details surrounding document availability are made clear, as are the fee structures corporations must now legally adhere to regarding each document. The big call-out we want to make here is that there have been changes applied to a wide range of condo board and condo management obligations when it comes to timeliness and delivery of documents. There have also been regulations set around fees associated with these documents – specifically, with regards to AGM and meeting minutes. We encourage you to take the time to review these changes in the condo documents so that you can know what to expect moving forward.
  • Condominium rules, bylaws, and sanctions. The roles of rules, bylaws, and sanctions are clearly defined within the Act, as well as acceptable enforcement practices for each. Pay attention to the maximums around sanctions as these have been increased, along with the specifics regarding how they’re to be distributed moving forward. It’s definitely worth following up with your condo management company to ensure that sanctions are being dealt with and submitted in a manner aligned with the amended Act to save from trouble in the future.

That About Covers It

That was a heck of a lot of information to digest! We hope this blog has been useful in helping you sort out what the CPA has changed moving forward and has given you some clarity on what to look out for in the coming months as these amendments are brought into effect within your own building. Once more, we’d recommend aligning to these changes sooner rather than later, just to avoid the headache of having to tackle these changes at the last minute later in the year, but your condo does technically have until the end of 2020 to implement these changes across your condo community.

Want to learn more about these CPA updates? Want to test our condo legislation expertise to see how well we know these changes? Give us a call at Catalyst Condo Management today – we’re happy to be put on the spot and will do our best to help you understand what all these changes mean for you and your condo community.