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New condominium law to help regulate financial transparency

When choosing to invest in a condominium, buyers need to take monthly condo fees into consideration. Understandably, increases to these fees can cause a stir and many buyers want to understand what kinds of increases are allowed under condominium law. In Ontario, this has become a particular concern for many as condo fees have the potential to rise significantly, especially when special assessments are levied against condo owners.

Condo boards have the authority to significantly increase monthly fees, if required by the yearly budget and reserve fund study. They can also levy special assessment fees if major repairs to the common areas are required. Condo owners can be blindsided when their fees increase, because financial statements may not have reflected an increase in condo fees pre-purchase or they were unaware that the building would require major repairs. 

This issue is being addressed by a new Ontario condominium law which passed in 2015 and is set to begin implementation this fall. The legislation requires that condo developers disclose conditions which can lead to increases in common-area expenses. They must disclose this information within a certain time period after the corporations first year.

Part of the government's plan is also to establish the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) to help with educating and adjudicating under the new rules. Condo owners will pay an additional $1 per month to fund the CAO. This new organization strives to improve condo living by providing information to condo owners about their rights and obligations. It will also provide a dispute resolution service through the Condominium Authority Tribunal.

Fee increases can raise many legal questions for homeowners. Those affected may wish to consult a lawyer with experience in real estate law to better understand their rights and responsibilities under Ontario condominium law.

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