In response to growing calls for more oversight and regulation, Alberta’s provincial government recently introduced a number of systemic amendments to help protect condo owners from potential financial pitfalls. The amendments are scheduled to be voted on in the provincial legislature in the spring of 2014.
Proposed changes include clarifications to laws governing maintenance and repair issues in “bare land” condos, as well as movement towards an improved dispute resolution process and greater transparency in condo fee disclosure regulations. The new legislation is the product of an extensive government consultation with over 5,000 Alberta condo owners.
Home Insurance Calgary: Changes to “Bare Land” Condo Common Element Regulations
“Bare land” condominiums are usually detached or semi-detached units that are part of a larger community of dwellings. There are two different types of elements of bare land developments that fall under the jurisdiction of the condo corporation: managed property and common property. Managed property consists of exterior elements such as windows, roofs, lawns and gardens. Common property includes sidewalks and roads that lie within the development’s boundaries.
The contentious issue in regards to bare land condominiums has revolved around special assessments for managed property. Prior to the updated legislation, condo corporations were not entitled to collect fees or tap into reserve funds to finance repairs to managed property, which created the possibility that unit owners could find themselves on the hook for costly special assessments to cover expenses and repairs. Under the new legislation, condo corporations will be able to charge fees or use their reserve funds to cover such expenses, giving individual unit owners more cost certainty and reduced risk.
Home Insurance Calgary: A New Dispute Resolution Process?
Disputes between unit owners and condo corporations commonly end up before the courts, and often take months or even years to resolve. The provincial government is moving towards the creation and implementation of a streamlined dispute resolution process, which will use neutral third-party mediators to bring such cases to faster conclusions.
Home Insurance Calgary: Greater Transparency Regarding Condo Fees
Many Alberta condo owners have been shocked to find that their monthly condo fees are actually significantly higher than what was disclosed prior to their purchase of the unit. Developers and condo corporations were able to bury certain monthly charges in the fine print thanks to legal technicalities, essentially creating a “bait and switch” situation for buyers.
In response, Alberta’s provincial government is looking at requiring developers and condo corporations to furnish prospective buyers with comprehensive disclosure packages prior to unit sales. This would ensure that buyers know exactly what they’re getting into up front, creating a more level playing field and eliminating deceptive sales practices.
Home Insurance Calgary: Make Sure You’re Covered
Even though the government is working towards creating a more equitable environment for condo owners, it is still very important to get the right kind of condo insurance. A special type of coverage known as loss assessment protection is available to help you avoid the financial burdens of costly special assessments, and it’s something every condo owner should carefully consider. If the proposed legislation passes, as many observers expect it will, special assessments will remain a realistic possibility. By adding loss assessment protection to your coverage, you will enjoy complete cost certainty and greater peace of mind.
If you would like to discuss your current condo insurance, or if you have any questions about loss assessment protection, don’t hesitate to reach out to the professionals at Lane’s Insurance. Lane’s Insurance is a full-service brokerage that works for you, not for the insurance company. Clients get access to comprehensive coverage for the lowest possible rates, as well as attentive service and extensive claims support. Visit Lane’s Insurance online for a free quote, or contact your local Lane’s Insurance office.