Non-Owners Can Serve on the Board

Gerry Hyman has written a new article.  Let’s discuss some of the questions he responds to:

QUESTION:  One of our directors sold her unit and moved out of the building. The board would like to fill the vacancy until the next AGM but management advises that it can’t be done because she hasn’t resigned. Is that correct?

ANSWER:  She is entitled to remain on the board unless the corporation’s bylaws require a director to be either an owner or a resident or both.

This raises the question of why the lady would want to remain on the Board when she has sold her unit and moved out of the building.  The Condominium Act does not require a director to be an owner or a tenant.  For the most part, people are not likely to be interested in being elected as a director unless they have an interest in the operation of the condominium (i.e. they are an owner or resident of the condominium.)

I would recommend asking the director to resign, but the Condominium cannot require her to do so.  A meeting could be requisitioned to remove her from office if her term does end at the next annual meeting, but the requirement for a majority vote of all unit owners to remove the director makes it difficult to remove the now ex-owner from the Board and is not necessarily a good choice.

If she appears at the next annual meeting, the owners should ask her why she has not resigned under the circumstances and then elect someone else when her term ends if they do not want to continue with her on the Board, although this is a decision of the owners, not the Board.

QUESTION:  Our board has passed more than 100 rules, some new and some amending previous rules. The “legalese” of some of the rules makes them difficult to understand. The board, in accordance with the Condominium Act, has sent the rules to the owners enabling at least 15 per cent of those who own units to requisition a meeting within 30 days to vote on the new rules. Shouldn’t there have been discussion with the owners and an explanation of the rules before those steps were taken?

ANSWER:  There is no requirement in the Act for such a discussion, other than at a requisitioned owners’ meeting. Given the number and apparent complexity of the proposed rules, a discussion meeting might have been held before the rules were passed by the board. That could have enabled the board to determine which unpopular rules should be dropped to lessen the likelihood of an owners’ vote against the entire package of rules at a requisitioned meeting.

The owners should requisition a meeting and refuse to pass any rule that is not written in plain English.  The Board may get the idea and keep the owners better informed in the future.

However, this is something were the current Condominium Act should be updated.  The Act should require a meeting of owners for the owners to accept any changes to the rules, with a majority of votes casts being sufficient to accept.

Boards would also be wise to set up a Standing Committee to deal with By-laws and Rules, known as the By-laws and Rules Committee to handle with advising the Board of any changes to the By-laws or Rules and should consist of owners and directors.  This Committee could also meet with the owners, through a Town Hall style meeting, to discuss any proposed changes before presenting them to the Board.  Also, under the current Act, the owners have the right to pass, amend, or repeal Rules without the Board’s support, so those changes could go directly from the Committee to the owners without the need of the Board approving them.

QUESTION:  An owner in our townhouse condo crossing an internal road with her baby carriage and dog was concerned about the speed of vehicles. The board installed five speed bumps. I have a new, low-profile sports car and to avoid damage caused by slamming the front end into the speed bumps I drive around them onto the sidewalks which are level with the road. I don’t do this if there are pedestrians on the sidewalk. I have received a letter from the condominium corporation threatening legal action and advising that the cost will be added to my common expense contributions. Can you help?

ANSWER:  Yes. Slow down over the speed bumps and stay off the sidewalks.

This is a difficult issue.  People on the property have the right to feel safe from vehicles that are driving at high speeds.  However, you have the right to keep you vehicle safe from potential damage.  The speed bumps could be designed to be low and thus not to difficult to drive over.  I have seen these in operation and they work to keep speeds down while being easy for cars to move over and thus not to cause damage.

If the owner feels that the speed bumps are too high, he/she should contact the Board about this issue and request that the height of the bumps be reduced as to limit the risk of causing damage to his/her vehicle or any other vehicle.  If the Board fails to do anything, the owner could take the issue to mediation.

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