Our blog post on condo record retention triggered a fair bit of interest and many questions from readers. Specifically, many asked how long they should retain the information certificate. Here’s our answer.
What is the Information Certificate?
Periodic Information Certificates (and their cousins, the “Information Certificate Update” and the “New Owner Information Certificate”) are documents which Ontario condo corporations must send to owners twice a year. The purpose of these Certificates is to inform owners on financial, legal and insurance matters. You can read more about these certificates in this post.
How long should you retain Information Certificates?
Section 13.1(2) of the General Regulation adopted under the Condo Act, imposed specific retention period for condo records. Based on this lengthy section, we developed a Retention Chart. This useful tool should help you figure out how long you must retain each record.
Many noticed that Information Certificates did not appear on our chart. This is because Information Certificates do not expressly appear under section 55 of the Act or section 13.1(2) of the Regulation – which is where you would look to see how long you must retain records. This leaves us guessing as to how long these certificates must be retained for.
So, how long must we retain them for? Here are a few clues.
Clue # 1: The Certificate is valid until the next one
A Periodic Information Certificates must be issued twice a year. Check our PIC calendar to see the deadline applicable to you. A corporation must provide the latest PIC to any new owner (this is done by attaching it to the New Owners Information Certificate). See our blog post on this. Clearly, you must at least have preserved the Certificate long enough to bridge you to the issuance of the next certificate.
So, is 6 months long enough?
Clue #2: The Certificates are Core records
The General Regulation adopted under the Act provides that all periodic information certificates issued by the corporation are “core records” for a period of 12 consecutive months. This is made obvious under the definition of “Core Records”. Clearly, these certificates must be preserved for at least 12 consecutive months in order to be able to properly answer a record request.
O.K. then: What about 12 months?
Clue #3: For as long as necessary
Subsection 13.1(2) 23 of the General Regulation provides that when a retention period is not specified (such as is the case here), the corporation must retain the record for “the period of time that the board determines is necessary for the corporation to perform its objects and duties or to exercise its powers”. One would assume that to be at least 12 months for the Information certificates (see clue #2).
In my view, it would be safer to preserve the certificates for a longer period of time. But how long is necessary?
Clue #4: The limitation period
Ontario has a 2-year limitation period. This is to say that anyone wishing to commence a legal proceeding against the Corporation must do so within 2 years of the discovery of the claim. Wouldn’t it make sense, then, to have preserve any and all Information Certificates for at least two years… just in case you need them?
Can we settle on 2 years?
But wait! The Condo Authority Tribunal retains jurisdiction over matters for a period of up to 3 years (in situations where the Tribunal is satisfied that a delay in not applying to the Tribunal was incurred in good faith and that no substantial prejudice will result to any one if the delay was extended). So, perhaps 3 years is a safer period of time to keep your Information Certificates.
O.K. then! 3 years?
Clue #5: Better safe than sorry
My mother often tells me that “if it does not eat bread”, there is no down side to bringing something along on a trek. This usually applies to bringing a hat on a summer stroll or an umbrella even though it’s not raining. If it doesn’t eat bread, better to have it with you. This piece of advice has served me well so far.
There is probably no down side in keeping old Periodic Information Certificates a little longer. It seems that the longest retention period under the Condo Act is 7 years. Why not apply this to Information Certificates as well…. as long as they don’t eat bread.