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Condominium / Strata Owners 101: Understanding the Laws + Regulations That Govern Your Property

Updated: Apr 25

If you're already a condominium / strata owner or considering purchasing one, it's essential to understand the legal framework that governs this type of property. Condos, unlike other dwellings, are governed by a whole different set of rules and regulations that are paramount in order to maintain a healthy operation and happy community. In this blog post, we'll explain what each of these documents is, their purpose, and what you need to know as an owner or resident in a condominium / strata community.


The Condominium Act is at the top of the hierarchy because it is a provincial law that outlines the rights and responsibilities of owners, residents, and property managers in a condo community. It establishes rules and procedures for the operation and maintenance of common elements and addresses disputes that may arise within the community. The Declaration, By-laws, and Rules are other essential documents that you need to be familiar with when living in a condominium, as they tend to be more specific to the corporation and community itself.


Keep reading to find out what they are and what you need to know as an owner or resident!

 

The Laws + Regulations That Govern A Condominium / Strata:

The Act, Declaration, Bylaws, Rules



The Condominium Act (“The Act”) is a provincial law in Ontario that governs the creation, ownership, and management of condominiums / stratas. The law outlines the rights and responsibilities of owners, residents, and property managers in a condo community. The Act also establishes rules and procedures for the operation and maintenance of common elements, such as hallways, elevators, and parking lots, and addresses disputes that may arise within the community.


Three important things about The Act that you need to know are:

  1. The Act governs the creation and operation of all condominiums in Ontario, and compliance with its provisions is mandatory for all owners, residents, and property managers.

  2. The Act requires all condominium corporations to have a board of directors that is responsible for the management and administration of the corporation, and that must act in the best interests of the owners.

  3. The Act establishes a dispute resolution process that allows owners and residents to resolve disagreements with the corporation, the board of directors, or other owners through mediation or arbitration.


The Declaration is a legal document that establishes the fundamental principles and rules governing a condominium / strata corporation. It outlines the ownership structure of the corporation, identifies the boundaries of individual units and common elements, and defines the rights and obligations of owners and the corporation. The Declaration also includes provisions that regulate the use and maintenance of the property, establish procedures for collecting common expenses, and address other matters relevant to the operation of the condominium.


Three important things about The Declaration that you need to know are:

  1. The Declaration is a legally binding document that sets out the fundamental rules and regulations that govern the condominium corporation and its owners.

  2. The Declaration can only be amended through a vote of the owners (usually affirmed by at least 80%, or as stated in The Declaration), and any changes must comply with the Condominium Act and the corporation's by-laws.

  3. The Declaration may contain restrictions on the use of individual units and common elements, such as rules prohibiting pets or imposing noise limits, and owners are required to comply with these restrictions.


By-laws are rules that regulate specific aspects of the corporation's operation and management. By-laws may cover a wide range of issues, such as parking, noise, pet ownership, and the use of common elements. By-laws must be consistent with the Declaration and the Condominium Act and are enforceable by the corporation.


Three important things about By-laws that you need to know are:

  1. By-laws can only be amended through a vote of the owners (usually affirmed by at least 50% +1), as long as the changes are consistent with the Declaration and the Condominium Act.

  2. By-laws can vary from one condo corporation to another, as they are usually specific to the individual corporation and are created to suit the unique needs of that particular community.

  3. By-laws may impose penalties or fines on owners who violate the rules, and failure to pay these fines may result in legal action.


Rules are specific regulations that govern the conduct of residents and the use of common elements in a condominium / strata community. Rules are established by the board of directors and must be consistent with the Declaration, the Condominium Act, and the corporation's by-laws. Rules may cover a wide range of issues, such as noise levels, smoking, and the use of amenities.


Three important things about Rules that you should know are:

  1. Rules are often highly customized to the needs of the community, though they must always be consistent with the Declaration, the Condominium Act, and the corporation's by-laws.

  • Rules may be amended by condominium boards without a vote of the owners; as long they aren’t challenged by the ownership, the rules will “pass” after 30 days and be adopted by the corporation. Of course, the changes must be consistent with the Declaration, the Condominium Act, and the corporation's by-laws.

  • Violating the rules may result in penalties or fines, and repeated violations may lead to legal action by the corporation.


 

The Condominium Act, Declaration, By-Laws, and Rules all play an essential role in the management and operation of a condominium community. Understanding these documents and their provisions is crucial for owners and residents to ensure compliance and a harmonious living environment. If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of these documents, it's recommended to seek advice from a condo manager or condominium lawyer who is knowledgeable in this area.


Now you know that owning a condominium in Ontario comes with a set of rules and regulations that are outlined in The Condominium Act, Declaration, By-laws, and Rules. These documents govern the creation, ownership, and management of condominiums and set out the rights and responsibilities of owners, residents, and property managers. As an owner or resident, it's essential to understand these documents and your obligations under them to ensure a harmonious living experience in your condo community, and to avoid any potential disputes and conflicts with the condominium corporation or other owners.


If you want to learn more about how a corporation runs, or anything else related to Ontario's Condoland, head over to our extensive Resource Library for thousands of sources that you can check out next!

-Stratastic Inc.


P.S. If you’re an owner and don’t have a set of governing documents for your condominium / strata, you can reach out to Property Management and request copies. Note that the manager may require that you complete a simple “Records Request” form in order to provide you with these documents.


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Updated on April 25, 2024.

 

Tags: Condominiums, Condominium Act, The Act, Declaration, By-Laws, Rules, Ontario laws, property management, condo community, dispute resolution, board of directors, common elements, unit boundaries, ownership structure, compliance, amendments, penalties and fines, legal action, living environment, property manager, condominium lawyer.




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