Feb. 21, 2013 | Cody Stuart
Survey Aimed at Improving Condominium LivingThe provincial government is asking Albertans to share their views on how to better legislate the development, purchase and operation of condominiums.
The Alberta government is conducting an online survey with an eye towards a possible amendment to the Condominium Property Act. The province says it wants to ensure the Condominium Property Act reflects the current needs of Albertans and addresses new trends in the condominium market.
"We want to build more effective legislation that provides appropriate consumer protection and supports the vibrant condominium industry in Alberta," said Service Alberta Minister Manmeet Bhullar. "The direction we get from Albertans will help us improve standards and provide long-term solutions to the challenges facing Alberta's condominium industry."
The consultation, which is in the form of a nine-part survey on the Service Alberta website, covers a wide range of topics, including: consumer protection for buyers; insurance requirements; access to corporation records; dispute resolution; board governance and regulatory standards for condominium managers.
The idea of increased protection for Alberta condo owners is something CREB® president Becky Walters is in favour of. Walters said condos account for nearly 30 per cent of all MLS® sales in Calgary, and even something as innocuous as access to documentation is an area where buyers could use a little more certainty.
"The changes in electronic storage of documents and ability to connect with the management companies and board members alone is a huge change that needs to be reflected in the act," said Walters. "The supplying of documents to the owners is all over the map. Some management companies have all documents online, easy to access, and others still require cash to pick up during office hours at their location for release of documents that actually belong to the corporations – not the management companies – sometimes at an unreasonable cost."
The call for increased protection for condo owners comes after the Alberta Government proposed new legislation making new home warranties mandatory in the province. Introduced in October, the legislation would require a one-year warranty on labour and materials; two years for defects in labour and materials related to delivery and distribution systems; five years building envelope protection, with a requirement for the warranty provider to offer the consumer the option to purchase additional years of coverage; and 10 years coverage for major structural components.
The proposed legislation, which would take effect this fall, is for single-family homes, condominiums, modular homes, mobile homes and dwellings on recreational properties.
"Improving the condominium laws will be beneficial for buyers and for builders of condominiums," said Greg Christensen, former president of the Canadian Home Builders Association - Alberta. "We fully support any measures that will help owners protect the value of their investment in their homes and address the needs of all stakeholders."
The increase in protection for Alberta condo owners reinforces just how important the sector has become. According to a report from AltusGroup, multi-family sales in Calgary rose by 26 per cent in 2012, increasing from 3,317 to 4,180. Provincially, multi-family starts in the province outpaced detached single-family starts for only the fourth timein 32 years in 2012, with condo sales in Calgary hitting their highest level since 2006.
"Over the past 25 years of my experience in real estate, the ownership of a condominium has become an incredibly popular lifestyle choice for over 30 per cent of Albertans - therefore we have seen apartment conversions and new construction blossom like never before, said Walters. "The Condominium Act has not been reviewed for many years and does not reflect the demands that this large a population requires."
The online questionnaire is available until April 2 at Let's Talk Condos. Paper copies of the questionnaire can be requested by calling 1-877-427-4088 toll-free in Alberta.