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Complaints and Disciplinary Procedures against Condo Managers under the New Act

In this series of posts, we explore how Ontario proposes to licence and regulate condo managers under the new Condominium Management Services Act.  In this post, we look at who can lodge a formal complaint against a condo manager and how complaints and disciplinary procedures will be handled under this new legislation.

Complaints Procedure

The new Condominium Management Services Act does not provide much information on how the complaint process will work. It is interesting to note, however, that this new legislation does not restrict who can make a formal complaint against a manager.  In comparison, when British Columbia became the first province to license and regulate its “strata” property managers in 2006, it provided that complaints against managers were to be submitted to the board of directors and that only a board of directors could escalate a complaint to the Real Estate Council of British Columbia (which regulates and enforces the Real Estate Services Act in that province).  The logic behind this is that managers report to the board of directors.  The board of directors is therefore best placed to look into a complaint from an owner. After all, the complaint may be the result of actions taken by the manager under the direction of the board. Ontario does not appear to have gone that way and has not restricted who can make a complaint against a manager.

The new legislation also does not provide much information on how a formal complaint can be made or how it will be processed.  The new legislation does not require that the complaint be made in writing (as is the case for other regulated professions). The legislation also does not provide that the complaint must be communicated to the manager.  One would assume that the Registrar of the Condominium Authority will implement such a disclosure process. What is provided under the legislation is that, when a complaint is received by the Registrar, the Registrar may request information from the manager. In doing so, the Registrar will have to indicate to the manager the nature (but not necessarily the author) of the complaint. The manager who receives a request for information from the Registrar must provide the requested information as soon as practicable. The legislation does not provide for a specific time frame to do so. One could expect that the Registrar will eventually develop guidelines and procedures to streamline the complaints procedure.

Decision of the Registrar

When handling a complaint, the Registrar may do any of the following:

  • Attempt to mediate or resolve the complaint;
  • Give the manager a written warning that the continuation of the activity which lead to the complaint may result in actions being taken against the manager;
  • Require that additional educational courses be taken by the manager;
  • Suspend or revoke the manager’s licence or refuse to renew it;
  • Refer the matter to the Discipline Committee – but only if there is a breach of the Code of Ethics (which has yet to be adopted); or,
  • Take any further action as is appropriate in accordance with the legislation.

Discipline Committee

A Discipline Committee will be established under the new legislation.  Complaints against condo managers will not necessarily go before the Discipline Committee. The sole purpose of this Committee will be to hear and determine whether a condo manager has failed to comply with the Code of Ethics.

It is important to note that this Code of Ethics has not been adopted yet and has yet to be circulated.  The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services has indicated that a draft Code of Ethics will be made available for public comments in “early 2017” and that it will take effect in “late 2017”. We are still waiting to see the first draft.

If the Discipline Committee concludes that a manager has failed to comply with the Code of Ethics, the Committee may order:

  • That the manager take further educational courses;
  • Impose a fine of up to a maximum of $25,000, to be paid to the Condominium Administrative Authority.  The payment will have to be made either on a date specified in the decision or within 60 days if no date has been set; and,
  • Fix and impose the costs of the discipline procedure.

Appeal of the Decision of the Discipline Committee

A party to a discipline proceeding may appeal the final decision of the Discipline Committee to an Appeals Committee (to be set up).  The Appeals Committee may overturn, confirm or modify the decision of the Discipline Committee.

The decisions of both the Discipline Committee and of the Appeals Committee will be made available to the public.

Who will sit on the Discipline and on the Appeals Committee?

The panel to sit on the Discipline Committee and on the Appeals Committee will be appointed by the Condominium Administrative Authority (or the Minister until such an Authority is set up). One could expect these panels to include other managers, directors and/or owners.

Infractions under the Act

Finally, it is to be noted that, in addition to the complaints or discipline procedure discussed above, the Condominium Management Services Act provides for specific penalties to those in breach of the act.  Such penalties include:

  • Discipline proceedings (discussed above), suspension and revocation of licence;
  • Fines of up to $50,000 for individuals and for up to $250,000 for corporate entities (such as Condo Management Providers);
  • Imprisonment for a term of not more than 2 years less a day; and,
  • Orders to pay compensation or to make restitution.

Any unpaid fines or unpaid orders for compensation or restitution may result in liens being placed against the personal property of the individuals subject to such orders/fines.

It is to be noted that the information provided in this post is based on a draft version of the regulations proposed to be adopted pursuant to the Condominium Management Services Act. These regulations are still in draft form and subject to change.

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