Condo owners, sellers and buyers will have more information at their fingertips – and it will be less cumbersome and expensive to access – under new provincial guidelines slated to take effect this July.
Changes to the Condominium Property Act tackle the biggest challenge to current and potential owners and sellers: obtaining all the essential financial, legal and technical information related to the operation of condominium corporations.
“Information was frequently only partly available, costly and difficult to obtain,” said Terry Gibson, president of the Condo Owners Forum Society of Alberta, one of the consumer groups consulted by the provincial government. “Quite frankly, it hurt condominium sales and values.”
With condo ownership on the rise – one in five Albertans now live in a condo – the new regulations ensure easier access to condo documents, while clarifying what documents must be provided to owners and when they need to be provided. They also tighten rules related to meetings and how reserve funds are managed.
Serhan Tarkan, a Calgary REALTOR® with Kirby Cox and Associates who has been selling condos here for 15 years, echoes Gibson’s comments.
“It’s been the Wild West in the last decade,” he said, with some clients charged as much as $1,000 to receive condo management documents. “It’s been out of hand for a long time.”
“I can’t wait until it takes effect. It levels the playing field for transactions, whether a person is buying or selling.” – Serhan Tarkan, Kirby Cox and Associates
Tarkan says condo management companies were making substantial profits in this area for providing simple digital files.
“For some of the smaller corporations, (the new rules) could be big trouble,” he said, noting that some were charging owners $25 per month just to access condo board meeting minutes that will now have to be provided free.
“I can’t wait until it takes effect. It levels the playing field for transactions, whether a person is buying or selling.”
Gibson says the regulation changes will substantially improve governance by increasing transparency on the part of condo boards of directors when it comes to sharing information.
“Condominium corporations are valuable assets,” he said.
“Prior to these changes, it was our opinion the governance and management of many condominiums needed improvement. Many times, their quality was not representative of the large value of the assets concerned.”
Gibson also says his organization believes the changes will improve property values in the long term. However, he says additional changes are needed, including better dispute resolution and licensing regulations for condo property managers.
“Education, training and standards for condominium property managers are a very important issue – we believe many improvements are required.”