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How Condos Work

Governing Documents

Governing documents and the Condominium Act lay out what condo residents and corporations are allowed to do. The Act and the documents can’t contradict each-other but if they do, the Act is supreme, followed by the declaration, the by-laws and finally the rules.


  • All condo residents and guests must comply with the governing documents and the Condo Act

Understanding Governing Documents

Living in a condo means being part of a community where all residents have a collective interest the well-being of the corporation. The governing documents are critical in laying the framework for how the condo corporation should manage its affairs and achieve this harmony.

1. The Condo Act

The Act regulates life in condos, including how they are created, purchased and governed.

2. The declaration

This is one of the two legal documents that create a condo corporation. The declaration is prepared by the declarant and is filed with the Land Registry Office along with the description. The declaration can only be amended with the written consent of 80 – 90% of unit owners depending on the type of amendment.

3. The by-laws

By-laws specify how the corporation will run. This includes setting the number of directors on the board above what’s minimally required by the Condo Act, quorum, board meeting procedures and more. By-laws can cover an extensive range of matters but by and large they focus on the governance of the property and how the board will carry out their duties. By-laws are required to be reasonable and consistent with both the Condo Act, and the condo corporation’s declaration. The by-laws can be considered the administrative guide.

4. The rules

These define how the units and common elements can be used as well as the standards of behaviour for the community. Rules promote safe and continuous enjoyment of units and common elements and dictate what individuals can and not do on the condo property.

Rules may prohibit excessive noise, regulate the use of amenities, restrict smoking, etc.

5. Policies

Policies are not governing documents. They can be created and amended by the corporation without the approval of owners and will outline things like room bookings and fees, the hours of use for amenities, etc. Owners should be informed regularly of any policy changes.

Enforcing the governing documents

All members of condo communities must comply with the Condo Act and governing documents.

Boards can follow these steps to resolve any issues:

  1. Notify residents who are not complying to make them aware of the issue and follow up as required, including by sending them a letter.
  2. If necessary, send a letter from legal counsel
  3. File the issue to the Condo Authority Tribunal if it is within the CAT’s jurisdiction.
  4. File the issue to mediation, arbitration or the Superior Court if it not within the CAT’s jurisdiction.

For more information on the most common types of condo disputes, read about Solving Common Issues.

Section 17 (3) of the Act establishes the obligation to enforce and section 119 establishes the requirement to comply.

Section 132 relates to mediation or arbitration and section 134 to the Superior Court of Justice.

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