By-laws, rules and policies

Man exiting his condominium building with his dog

Living in a condominium may not be the best fit for everyone. If you are considering condo living, take the time to understand the rules and regulations that impact living in a condominium.

Important concepts that condominium owners should know are:

  • declaration and description
  • by-laws
  • rules
  • policies

Declaration and description

The declaration and description are the legal documents that create a condominium corporation. The declarant (developer or builder) prepares these documents and files them in the land registry office. This process is referred to as registering the condominium.

The declaration includes information, such as:

  • The street address of the condominium.
  • The mailing address of the condominium, if it is different from the street address.
  • How much each unit will pay for common expenses, expressed as a percentage of the total budget.
  • Which parts of the building will be exclusive use common elements, like balconies.

The description provides:

  • A survey showing the boundaries of the property;
  • A description of all the elements and assets that are included in the property.
  • Diagrams showing the shape and dimensions of each unit.
  • A description of what is included as part of each unit. For example, a condo unit may not include a front door. The front door may be a common element, which would prevent the owner from painting it a different colour.

The declaration and description can only be changed if over 80% of the owners agrees to this change. For example, if there are 100 units in the condominium, over 80 owners, depending on what the amendment deals with, would need to agree to a change.

By-laws to govern how the corporation is run

By-laws describe how the condominium corporation is to govern itself. By-laws can deal with a wide range of matters, such as:

By-laws must be reasonable and consistent with the Act and declaration. The condominium board of directors can make, amend, or repeal by-laws, and owners can provide input. By-laws do not come into force until they are:

  • Approved by a majority of owners at a meeting called for the purpose. The requirement for a majority can be changed by regulation under the Act.
  • Registered in the land registry office.

Rules - helping owners get along with one another

Rules promote everyone's safety, security, and welfare. They help ensure all owners can enjoy living in their condominium and protects your property and the condominium's assets.

For example, rules can:

  • Restrict the use visitors make of common elements.
  • Prevent owners from renting out their units for short periods of time.
  • Limit the number or size of pets allowed in the building.

The condominium board of directors can make, amend or repeal a rule. Rules must be consistent with the Act and declaration.

When changing rules, the board must:

  • Notify owners about any changes they want to make before those changes become effective.
  • Provide all owners with written notice of the rule at least 30 days before it becomes effective.

Owners who do not like the rule can act to change it or stop it from becoming effective. For instance, an owner can request an owners' meeting.

Policies - everyday rules to guide the condominium

The Condominium Act specifies which issues require a by-law. But some governance issues do not need to be in a by-law, nor do they need to become rules. Therefore, the board may prepare policies to address such issues.

For example, the board may establish a policy regarding contracts. This policy might require the board to get three quotes before awarding a contract, helping ensure the condominium gets the right deal.

Owners are not directly affected by policies.