There’s no way around legal age restrictions in condo bylaws

February 26, 2015 | Roberto Noce, KC | Calgary

Calgary Herald

Q: I had planned on buying a condo in a 45+ age-restricted complex.

I am over the age of 45 and my daughter (in her 20s) would be living with me. However, I was told that all residents must be 45 years old. Is this legal?

A: The short answer to your question is yes. There is a court decision from Alberta that has confirmed that it is perfectly legal to have age restrictions in condominium corporations. The courts have also said that the human rights legislation does not apply to condominiums. Therefore, before you buy this particular condominium, please have someone review the bylaws to determine whether or not you are allowed to have your daughter live with you.

Helpful hint: Bylaws are in place for a specific reason; owners have come together to say that they want to be governed in a particular way. The bylaws cannot conflict with the Condominium Property Act. If you do not like the rules in that particular condominium, then you may want to consider living somewhere else.

Q: How do items at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) become new business? If items are added to the agenda at the time of the meeting, it is my understanding that these items are for discussion and information only. Do the results of these discussions become items added to the minutes? Owners are asked to inform the board prior to the meeting if they wish to have items added, but this never happens.

A: Generally, under the new business item on the agenda, if an owner has a particular issue to raise, then this would be the appropriate time to do so. The chair of the meeting should not make things difficult for owners to get answers or to have a debate about a particular issue. It is hard enough to get people interested at the board level, let alone getting people to attend an AGM. Furthermore, some of the new business requires a vote to provide direction to the board, then there may be an issue whether or not other owners should have been given notice of that vote.

Helpful hint: Meetings should be used as an opportunity for owners to be heard and ask appropriate questions.

Q: When buying a condo unit, what are the issues pertaining to condos that buyers should research and understand before the sale is finalized?

A: I would go one step further and say that you should probably look at these issues before you remove your conditions with respect to the purchase of a condominium unit.

Take the time to review the reserve fund study and determine whether or not the reserve fund is adequate to meet the needs to future maintenance and report projects of the condominium corporation. Do a search at the local courthouse to determine whether the condominium corporation is being used or is involved in some court matter. Are there any ongoing developer issues that will have to be addressed in the future? Review the minutes and determine whether owners are raising issues that may or may not indicate a pleasant environment. Read the bylaws. All of this information is readily available and you should take the time to review it.

Helpful hint: When buying a condo, simply looking at the location and the amenities of the building and the neighbourhood is not enough in terms of your due diligence. Take the time to look at the financials, minutes, bylaws, etc. of the condominium corporation.

Q: I live in a bareland condo, and our board has not called an AGM in 18 months. What, if any, recourse do owners have? There are many outstanding issues that were voted on at the last AGM, and the board has not moved forward with anything. It seems our board does not want to uphold the bylaws.

A: This is a very serious issue. Review your bylaws and determine whether or not a group of owners can call an Extraordinary General Meeting to deal with this issue. If not, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer and getting a court order forcing the condominium corporation to call an AGM. You may also want to write a letter to the board reminding them of their legal obligations.

Helpful hint: The law requires that an AGM be held within 15 months of the last AGM (s. 30 (2) of the Condominium Property Act). The board has not followed the law. When board members ignore the law or fail to follow the law, individual board members may be subjected to personal liability – i.e., board members are now acting in bad faith.

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