May 7, 2014 11:28 pm

Province hopes new act will improve condominium living in Alberta

EDMONTON – The Alberta government has introduced new legislation it hopes will improve condominium living in the province. But some critics say it doesn’t go far enough to protect consumers.

Bill 13: The Condominium Property Amendment Act was introduced in the Alberta Legislature this week. More than 50 amendments to the Act – which was last changed in 2000 – were introduced, including:

  • the creation of a new condominium dispute tribunal;
  • improved disclosure of financial and other necessary information to buyers of new and converted condominiums;
  • updates to qualifications and standards of practice for condominium managers; and,
  • improved governance for condominium corporations.

The legislation also forces developers to give full disclosure of condo fees prior to the purchase of a suite.

“Buying a condo is an affordable option for Albertans entering the housing market and is often their first real estate experience,” said Service Alberta Minister Doug Griffiths. “After careful review and discussion with stakeholders and Albertans, our government will update the Condominium Property Act to make it easier for owners and builders to understand their responsibilities on the sale of condos.”

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“These amendments help address the current and future needs of our growing and evolving condominium industry,” explained Dr. June Donaldson, co-founder of the Alberta Condominium Owners Association. “They will help to ensure best practices for condominium boards and management companies, level the playing field among developers, and protect the rights and property values of purchasers and owners.”

However, some are voicing their concerns with the bill, saying it falls short of protecting homeowners. The Canadian Condominium Institute, North Alberta Chapter says while the legislation is a step in the right direction, the province has ignored its call for consumer protection measures and builder/developer accountability.

“The number one concern we’ve heard from owners over the past decade is water infiltration and building construction issues. These issues are not addressed in this legislation,” said Anand Sharma, President of the Canadian Condominium Institute North Chapter. “There needs to be penalties and holdbacks on developers to make sure they’re compliant in doing things in buildings that are beneficial to condominium owners and ensure they’re building right.”

Sharma believes the legislation puts good building practices in the hands of warranty providers, whose primary goal is profit, not the best interest of the public.

“We are concerned developers will not be held accountable, and condo owners will be left holding the bag.”

The CCI has been in consultation with the province for five years, and Sharma says some of the changes it proposed were ignored. He says the CCI will be providing feedback to the province and encourages condo owners to contact the government with any concerns they may have.

Bill 13 has been given first reading in the legislature, and after some consultation over the summer, is expected to be passed this fall.

With files from The Canadian Press. 

© Shaw Media, 2014

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