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Declaration, By-laws, and Rules

In addition to the Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Condo Act”), condominium corporations are governed by the declaration, by-laws, and rules. It is important to be familiar with these documents, often collectively referred to as the “governing documents”. When you buy a condo, regardless of whether you decide to live in it or lease it out, you become part of a larger community of owners who all have a collective interest in the condo corporation and its operations. These documents are instrumental in establishing how the condo corporation must conduct its business and manage its affairs.

The governing documents contain important information regarding the powers and responsibilities of the condo corporation, an owner’s rights and obligations, as well as what is permitted in the condo corporation and restrictions that must be observed. According to section 17 and section 119 of the Condo Act, the provisions in the governing documents must be enforced by the condo corporation’s board of directors (the “condo board”) and followed by every individual (e.g., owners, directors, occupants, guests, etc.) on the property of the condo corporation.

The Hierarchy

Taken together with the Condo Act, the declaration, by-laws, and rules are the main sources of condo governance and they exist in a hierarchy in the following order:

  1. The Condominium Act, 1998;
  2. The declaration;
  3. The by-laws; and
  4. The rules.

The Condo Act is at the top of the hierarchy and it applies to and regulates all condo corporations in the province of Ontario. The Condo Act lays out the requirements for each of the governing documents, how they are created and amended, and the requirement that they be consistent with the Condo Act. Not only do the governing documents need to be consistent and in compliance with the Condo Act, but also with any document higher in the hierarchy. For example, a condo rule cannot contradict the condo corporation’s by-laws, declaration, or the Condo Act.

Each governing document type has a different purpose and the requirements to amend each document also differ. Click on the link for each document for more information.

  • The Declaration
    The declaration is one of the two legal documents that create a condo corporation when registered with the Land Registry Office. The declaration is often considered the constitution of the condo corporation and contains many important provisions.
  • The By-laws
    The by-laws set out various key aspects of how the condo corporation will govern itself such as the number of directors on the board, board meeting procedures, and how the affairs of the condo corporation are generally conducted. The by-laws can be considered the administrative guide for the condo corporation.
  • The Rules 
    Condo rules are designed to promote the safety of owners and prevent unreasonable interference to the use and enjoyment of the units as well as common elements. The condo rules will dictate what individuals on the condo corporation property can and cannot do.