As a follow up to our previous legislative e-blast, the Canadian Condominium Institute wants to update our members on our education and advocacy efforts during this difficult time. The COVID19 pandemic is an evolving issue that continues to cause concern in the condominium community. In addition to our actions noted below, we will continue to monitor reliable updates and will educate our membership as relevant information is released.
CCI-National remains committed to compile helpful resources from industry experts on a broad range of topics relating to COVID19 in condos. This information remains publicly available on the resource centre of our National webpage, and new content is being added almost daily. Click here to access these resources.
Our Ontario-wide Legislative committee have been actively engaged throughout this week to review the previously identified advocacy opportunities. Urgent submissions were issued to various governments and public health organizations. Specifically, we have advocated the following on behalf of the condominium community. Extension of Deadlines As a follow up to the order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act suspending limitation periods, we have advocated that a similar order should be made relating to the following deadlines:
Completion of Mandatory Director training – to eliminate the risk of lost quorum, while Directors are attending to other urgent matters in their lives.
Response to Records Requests/Issuing PICS, ICUs & NOICS – condominiums have an urgent need to focus attention on the health and safety of residents rather than administrative matters.
Owners Meetings – During this time there is a prohibition in Ontario on group gatherings. Accordingly, these meetings should not be held. Allowance to hold meetings for lost quorum electronically should be available regardless of the existence of an electronic voting by-law.
For condominiums who are dealing with Tarion warranties:
Tarion has stopped the clock on timelines related to Common Element warranties for the duration of the Ontario government’s Emergency Orders. This is retroactive to March 16. This includes all warranty periods (first year, second year and major structural defect warranty) and builder repair periods (per Tarion’s Builder Bulletin 49). All conciliations and common element meetings currently planned within the month are also cancelled.
It is not yet clear if the stopping of the clock will impact only due dates that fall within the period of the emergency, or if this will also apply to due dates that fall beyond the period. For example, if a first-year warranty expires on March 31, 2020, it has clearly been suspended and a new date will be determined. However, for another first year warranty that currently expires in November 2020, if the period of the emergency is 90 days, it is not currently clear if the warranty will be extended to February 2021, or if the original November 2020 date will remain as is after the Emergency Order is lifted.
Also, with respect to the first example above, where the warranty period expires during the current suspension period, it is not entirely clear, even in those cases, how much time will be given to satisfy filing and any other requirements after the suspension period is lifted, as Tarion has indicated in its latest statement that “a reasonable extension” will be given. Tarion has asked that Performance Auditors coordinate through Bonnie Douglas at Tarion to ensure no missteps.
Although the Tarion publication does not clearly mention Repair Agreements (cases where condominiums and builders have jointly agreed to provide the builder with more time to rectify certain deficiencies), Tarion however has confirmed that they consider these to be captured under its direction in relation to Builder Repair Periods and therefore timelines in those agreements are also suspended. For ease of tracking, it would seem wise to continue to renew Repair Agreements regardless so that due dates remain clear to all parties.
Tarion confirms that if unit owners prohibit the builder from accessing their unit during the period of the emergency, they will not be viewed by Tarion as having denied access; meaning that they are not jeopardising their warranty coverage.
There is confusion in the industry on whether the order suspending limitation periods also applies to lien registration timelines. We have asked for specific clarity on this matter – in order to ensure there is no legal risk to condominium corporations relating to collection of common expenses.
Availability of Supplies and Public Health Information
We advocated that the availability of supplies such as disinfection products and hand sanitizers are a growing concern. We also asked Public Health Agencies to ensure that they provide more robust information specific to condominium corporations related to COVID19.
Toronto Public Health responded by contacting CCI to ask for our assistance in ensuring their communications are relevant to the needs of condominium communities. We will continue this discussion to ensure the needs of the condo communities are met.
We advocated that Property Managers and other building staff should be deemed essential services. Whether or not this had any impact on the Provincial Government’s decision; we are pleased to advise that your front-line workers are able to continue working for the safety of community members.
We have identified some possible cost-saving and budgetary revision opportunities to reduce financial hardship on condominium owners. The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services has been asked to review and endorse these opportunities so that industry experts can safely make recommendations to their clients about how to manage increased costs (such as cleaning) and possible difficulties collecting fees.
We have reminded the Ministry of Government and Consumers Services of the need to consider the Condominium framework in developing positions to support Ontario during this time of crisis. During an emergency, such as COVID-19, Corporations have a duty to manage the assets of the Corporation and stay operating. As such, Condominium corporations continue to incur costs on a daily basis, including utilities and service costs for cleaning and management. This needs to be considered as programs are put in place to protect individuals from financial hardship.
As always, we urge everyone to follow Public Health reports and recommendations. Stay safe and be well.
The CCI-Ontario Legislative Committee