Numerous legal changes have been implemented in Alberta throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including changes related to real estate.
As previously noted, the Alberta Government has issued numerous directives relating to the protection of residential tenants, which includes a temporary moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent and/or utilities and rent increases.
Additionally, changes were made to Alberta legislation relating to the management of condominiums. Specifically, a Ministerial Order (the “Order) issued on April 9, 2020 introduced temporary changes to the Condominium Property Act and its regulation.
What is a Condominium?
A condominium is distinct from other residential properties because it is a form of real property that has two parts; while the owner owns and has title to the condominium unit, the owner also jointly owns common property with the other owners in the complex.
Additionally, unlike a residential property, the ownership responsibilities do not fall on a landlord; rather, they fall on all unit owners. Condominium boards or corporations are responsible for the proper functioning of such complexes.
Purpose of Legislation
The Condominium Property Act (the “Act”) and the Condominium Property Regulation (the “Regulation”) set out the rules for operating and managing condominiums in Alberta. Among other issues, the legislation addresses:
- The rights and responsibilities of a unit owner;
- The powers and duties of a condominium corporation, including repair and maintenance of the property of the corporation, the common property and managed property, and enforcement of the corporation’s bylaws; and
- Requirements for annual general meetings of the unit owners, special general meetings and meetings of the condominium board.
Changes to Legislation Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic
First, the Order recognized that meetings of the condominium board may be suspended or delayed due to COVID-19. As such, interim boards will continue to hold office until a board is elected. Normally, under s. 29(1) of the Act, a developer must convene a general meeting to elect a board within 90 days; this requirement is suspended under the Order. However, this suspension does not prevent a developer from holding a meeting through remote means, such as videoconference or teleconference. Ordinarily, under s. 29(2) of the Act, a unit owner was permitted to call such a meeting if the developer did not; this right is suspended.
Additionally, the requirement under the Act for the holding of an annual general meeting is suspended. Again, such meetings are still permitted if they are held by remote means by the condominium corporation. The requirement to hold special meetings is also suspended.
Interestingly, s. 24.1 was modified to add a new subsection. Section 24.1 regulates the right of entry into an owner’s unit. Due to COVID-19, a new subsection was added, which states:
“24.1(4.1) A person, other than a person who regularly resides in a unit, is not entitled to enter the unit […] unless expressly or impliedly invited by a person who regularly resides in the unit, if:
(a) any person who regularly resides in the unit is self-isolating, in quarantine, or displaying symptoms consistent [with] the pandemic COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19; or
(b) the person seeking entry is self-isolating, in quarantine, or displaying symptoms consistent with the pandemic COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19.”
Additionally, a change to the Regulation states that “events leading up to a public health emergency under the Public Health Act” will allow a developer to delay occupancy beyond the final occupancy date for a unit, without liability for damages and without giving rise to a right of rescission by a purchaser.
Finally, the five-year requirements related to reserve funds are suspended.
DBH Law recognizes that there continues to be growing concern in Alberta and abroad about the spread of COVID-19. We have implemented several measures to reduce the risk and impact to our employees, clients and the community at large.
Please be aware that we are prepared to initiate business continuity protocol for remote work and communications. It is our priority to ensure business continuity for our clients while ensuring the safety of our people. We recognize that the outbreak of COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation globally and we wish to assure you DBH Law is equipped and prepared to maintain and continue business services to our clients during this pandemic.
At DBH Law in Calgary, our real estate lawyers have more than 25 years of combined experience acting for purchasers, lenders, and developers through all stages of real estate transactions.
We help our clients avoid huge areas of risk, including poorly drafted or incomplete agreements of purchase and sale, hidden fees, encroachment or easement issues, complex concerns like properties held in trust, and similar pitfalls. We also look for contract language which may impose unfavourable duties or obligations. To learn more about how we can help, contact us online or by phone at 403.252.9937.