Condo corporations are often required to send formal notices to owners. These formal communications will increase under the “new” Act. Corporations may be able to reduce cost (and save trees) by switching to electronic communications. Here is how.
Requirement to Communicate with Owners
Under the current Act, condo corporations are often required to send formal communications to owners. The most common (and regular) example is the AGM package. Other examples include Notices of owners meetings and proposed Rules. These communications will continue to be required under the “new” act. In fact, there will be many more of these. For instance, we know already that corporations will have to send a quarterly Information Certificate to all owners. The cost of these communications can rapidly add up. For this reason, corporations may want to turn their minds to alternate methods of service, such as emails.
Address of Service Under the “Current” Act
Under the “current” Act, any notice required to be given to owners shall be in writing and shall be given to each owner at their address of service. The term “address of service” is not defined under the current Act, but such service can be done:
- by delivering the notice personally to the owner;
- by sending it by prepaid mail to the owner’s address for service (the one held on record by the corporation);
- by facsimile transmission, electronic mail or any other electronic communication but only if the owner has agree in writing to such method;
- by delivering it to the owner’s unit or at the unit’s mail box (unless the owner has requested in writing that service not be done in this matter or unless the corporation has a different address on record.
Presumably, under the current Act, all that would be required to switch to service by email is to have owners consent to this in writing. Too easy.
How to Switch to Electronic Service Under the “New” Act
Under the “new” Act, all owners will be required to advise the corporation of their name and address of service. [Existing owners will not have to take that step, the Corporation will rely on the address on record at the time these sections of the “new” Act come into force]. Owners will be able, at any time, to change their address of service. Corporations will have to maintain their records up to date.
Corporations will be able to provide formal notices to owners by way of email or other electronic method but only if the following steps are followed.
First, owners must have agreed in writing to such electronic communications and a statement to that effect must appear in the corporation’s records. This agreement can be done in one of two ways:
The first method is similar to what exists under the current Act:
- The board will have to pass a resolution confirming the method of electronic communication which may be used; AND
- The owner (or mortgagee) will have to indicate, in writing, that they agree that service by this electronic method of communication is sufficient for the purpose of service under the Act.
The second method allowing for electronic service is to use and have on record a duly completed (and presumably signed) form called “Agreement to Electronic Delivery“, which form will be developed and published by the province.
Electronic Delivery of Information Certificates
Corporations will be able to deliver the quarterly Information Certificate the traditional way (by mail, by personal delivery, by delivery to the unit or by email provided that the owners have agreed to it, as stated above). But there will be another far more efficient way of delivering these (and other) Certificates: by posting them on a website and by sending a notice of the posting.
For such posting to be adequate, owners must be able to view, store, retrieve and print the content of the communication (including the content of any documents included in the communications).
The notice of posting will have to be in accordance with a form entitled “Notice of on-line posting of Information Certificate“. This form will be published by the province. The notice will have to state how the posting can be accessed and, more importantly, will have to advise owners that they can obtain a paper copy if they so wish.
While it may make sense to wait before doing the switch to electronic communications (to avoid having to do the exercise twice), now may be the time to turn your minds to setting up the systems to be able to hit the ground running when these sections come into force. For instance, corporations may want to turn their minds to setting up a website on which they will be able to post the Information Certificates. It may be best to consider making these site password-protected. Corporations may have to consider changing their password on a somewhat regular basis as ownership will change over time.
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