Charges Must Be Reasonable

Gerry Hyman has a new article on condominiums.  So let’s discuss it:

QUESTION:  The property manager for our 41-townhouse condo advised at our annual meeting that, following a written request, an owner could electronically receive the corporation’s monthly financial statements. There would be a $50 charge for sending them. Is that a reasonable charge? If not what action can be taken?

ANSWER:  A corporation is entitled to make a reasonable charge for photocopying records when copies are requested by an owner. The charge, for example, of 25¢ per page, is for copying only. There is no actual copying involved in transmitting records electronically, but the transmission might be seen as the equivalent to copying. In any event, unless the financial statements are 200 pages, the $50 charge appears excessive. If the records are not provided due to an owner’s refusal to pay an unreasonable charge, the Condominium Act requires the corporation to pay the requesting unit owner $500 and the payment may be enforced in small claims court.

I concur that the cost of $50 for sending a copy of the Financial Statements electronically is unreasonable.  However, even 25¢ per page for a printed/hard copy is unreasonable.  Most printing locations can copy one page for 10¢, so this certainly would be a sufficient fee.  And if the requested copy is only a couple of pages, or is being sent electronically, there should be no charge as the cost is either insignificant (if it is only a couple of pages) or non-existent (in the case of electronic copies.)

This question again raises the issue of condominium directors and managers needing to be held accountable for their actions.  This fee is clearly intended to stop owners from receiving copies of condominium records.

This also shows why I believe that a Condo Office/Ombudsman’s Office is required to handle condominium issues.  However, instead of imposing a fine on the condominium, perhaps the fine need to be levelled against those who are making the decision, in this case the property manager, and perhaps the directors who appear to be allowing the property manager to make this type of statement.

And now another question that was raised:

QUESTION:  Our condominium is experiencing large increases in our common expenses. Some of us would like to post a note on the message board that we wish to hold an owners’ meeting to discuss ways to reduce these expenses. The property manager advised that if we try to post the note, she would have us charged. Are we not entitled to use the notice board?

ANSWER:  The threat of a charge of some sort is silly. Owners are entitled to make reasonable use of the common elements subject to the declaration, bylaws and rules. Check the declaration and rules to see if there are any restrictions on the use of the message board.

Owners of at least 15 per cent of the units, however, are entitled to sign and deliver to the board a requisition requiring the board to call and hold an owners’ meeting.

The requisition stating the business to be presented at the meeting must be delivered personally to the president or secretary — or deposited at the address for service of the corporation. The board must call and hold the meeting within 35 days of receipt of the requisition.

If the board fails to call and hold the meeting, a person making the requisition may do so, and the meeting is to be held within 45 days of the day it is called.

Again, this sounds like the directors and the property manager are intentionally trying to stop the owners from holding a meeting.  I not only strongly suggest that the owners requisition a meeting (which one can do without the need of a lawyer), but also look into electing new directors who will not only be more open with how they are spending the condominium’s money (maybe yearly ‘Budget Information Meetings’ to discuss the Budget would help) but also are willing to replace this property manager who clearly wants to bully owners rather than be accountable for her actions and advise.

As I have spoken before, if the Condominium Act was amended to allow owners to remove directors on a vote of a 2/3 majority of votes cast at a meeting, and if proxies were limited, then owners may actually be able to easily get rid of directors who appear to want the owners to be held in the dark about how their money is being spent!

This week’s article has clearly shown that the current Condominium Act is outdated and is in need of being amended to hold directors accountable for their actions.

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