life in a condominium

For those who are new to condominium life there can be some adjustments. Few will miss the upkeep of mowing lawns, raking leaves or shovelling snow. But this freedom from chores comes with restrictions that you may not have anticipated. You are expected to share the facilities with your neighbours. And there is an expectation that you will take on some new responsibilities related to living in a shared building.

The Condominium Authority of Ontario is your source for knowledge about all things related to living in a condominium. It is strongly recommended that new owners refer to this guide. Even if you have lived in a condominium for years, you may still be surprised to know how regulations have evolved, and procedures have been refined.

When you check into this website there is an invitation to subscribe to the OCA newsletter where you will receive important news and updates. The spring  newsletter focused on conflict resolution, and the Condominium Tribunal. It just take a moment to sign up.

Avoid Water Damage

Water leaks in your suite can lead to costly damage. Toilets can leak slowly in a rarely used washroom. Your washing machine or dishwasher can unexpectedly release water. The pipes under your kitchen sink can erode over time and cause a leak. Suddenly you have an urgent problem. 

Water leaks are particularly troublesome in a condominium because water will always flow downward potentially damaging lower suites too. You will be responsible for this damage so be sure your insurance policy reflects this added liability for any expenses incurred.

Wise condominium owners can do a few things to avoid costly water damage. Every adult should be familiar with the shut-off valves throughout the suite (under sinks, beside washing machines, under toilets) and know how to turn them off in an emergency.  Check each to see if they work properly so that in the off position there is no more water flow. These valves can become faulty over time and should be repaired by a plumber in case you need to turn off the water.

Consider investing in some water leak alarms. These are small devices that you can place out of sight behind toilets, near washing machines or under sinks. They detect water and give an alarm. There are smart water detector alarms that send a notification to your smart phone app, even when you are away from home.


In the modern world we are unfortunately plagued by deceptive phone calls and emails intending to defraud. Often they seem hilariously inept, but the statistics about reported scams tell us that  vast amounts of money are stolen this way, so they obviously catch many of us off-guard. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • If you receive a suspicious phone call claiming to be from a family member in an emergency situation, hang up the phone and contact them directly on the number you have in your telephone list. Likewise unexpected phone calls, texts or emails from your bank or credit card. If you are worried, disconnect and follow up by contacting your bank directly.
  • If the caller claims to be a law enforcement official and asks you to pay a fine or bail, hang up and call your police directly. The police or other officials will never request payment by cash, credit card, gift card or Bitcoin. This is always a scam.
  • Be careful what you post online. Scammers can use details shared on social media platforms and dating sites for targeting purposes. They can easily gather names and details about your loved ones.
  • Be careful with caller ID numbers that look familiar. Scammers use technology to disguise (spoof) the actual number they are calling from and make it appear as a trusted phone number.
  • If you receive a strange email from a friend or family member it just takes a moment to run your cursor over the sender’s email address above the message and click.  If you do not recognize it, do not reply or click on any links in the message. Just delete. (Your email application may have a button near the delete button to report it as spam. Use it.)
  • Listen to your inner voice that tells you that something does not sound right.

Want to know more about this topic? The Government of Canada has a website dedicated to informing the public – Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Understanding Quorum

The sister buildings at Islington 2000/2010 were built a few years apart and have differences in some noticable as well as some less obvious ways. Here’s one: quorum at MTCC 570 is 25% of owners; at YCC 351 quorum is set at 33%.

The Condominium Authority of Ontario explains it this way:

Quorum is the minimum number of owners that must be present, either in person or by proxy for business of the corporation, such as a vote, to be conducted. The standard quorum for an AGM is when owners who own at least 25% of the condo units are present. The quorum requirement is reduced to 15% on the third and any subsequent attempts to hold the meeting if quorum is not reached on the first two attempts to hold the AGM.

In recent years attendance at AGMs has led YCC 351 to consider amending its quorum requirement to align with the Condominium Act of Ontario’s 25% requirement. The challenge for YCC 351 is that it needs a majority of owners to vote for this change. While recent AGMs have met the threshold to conduct business, there have not been enough owners or their proxies there to achieve the required majority.

So, the goal to reduce quorum from 33% to 25% has led the Board of YCC 351 to become a little more proactive. Owners at 2010 Islington – if you did not attend the last AGM or vote through proxy, expect to be personally invited to vote in 2023. More about this soon.


Standard Unit

A part of condominium living that owners frequently haven’t considered, or have forgotten, is the impact of the Standard Unit By-Law. If you haven’t already, you should take time read through the By-Law that describes a Standard Unit.

The  Standard Unit definition is rarely mentioned but it is essential in condominiums because the Corporation is deemed to be responsible for insuring only the items listed in the Standard Unit.  And that leaves the responsibilty  for insuring everything else to unit owners.

Any items within the unit which are not listed in the Standard Unit By-Law, are considered to be improvements to the unit, things like upgraded trim, any interior fittings and flooring improvements, for instance.  In the case of damage where the Corporation is liable, you can only expect replacement of the standard items as defined in the By-Law.  Replacing betterments like your beautiful hardwood flooring for instance, is up to you and your own insurance. All owners in the corporation are thereby reassured that their common expenses will not be held liable for undefined damage from an insurable event. The By-Law also deals with dispute resolution, maintenance and repair for items on the Standard Unit list.

MTCC-570 owners will find their Standard Unit definition in By-Law 8 on pages 92 – 99 attached to the Declaration and By-Law documents.

YCC – 531 owners will see a corresponding definition in By-Law 8 on pages 96 – 103 of their Declaration and By-Law documents.


Declaration, By-Laws and Rules

You may have run into a rule at our condominium complex that conflicts with your preferences. Keep in mind that rules are necessary so we can have an orderly environment with established expectations and can live in peace with one another.

Even so most residents have at some time found a rule burdensome and have considered what it would take to change it. Condominium rules do change from time to time, and that’s when it is important to understand the way that condominiums are governed.

Every Ontario condominium is regulated by the Condominium Act, 1998, which lays out the requirements for the creation and amendment of rest of the governing documents.

Each condominium is individually regulated by a declaration and by-laws. The declaration is one of the legal documents that created the condo corporation when it was registered with the Land Registry Office. It is a kind of constitution for the condominium.

The by-laws concern how the condo corporation will govern itself such regarding such things as the number of directors on the board, board meeting procedures, and how the affairs of the condo corporation are generally conducted.

And finally, we arrive at the rules each condo establishes for safe co-existance, and for providing reasonable use and enjoyment of individual units and the common areas. Rules must be consistent with the three other governing documents: the Condo Act, the declaration and the by-laws.  Together they lay out the conditions that must be met. Want to see a rule changed? Make sure you know what it takes to comply with established governance.

Each of our Condominium Corporations has it’s own declaration and by-laws. Below are .pdf copies of these documents.