Should Condo Owners Vote on Changes to Common Elements?

A condo complex in Canada

All property managers and condo board members eventually have questions about when to have condo owners vote to change common elements. However, whether or not a vote should be held is not a question of ‘should.” Instead, it’s a matter of becoming familiar with–and following–specific regulations pertaining to such activities: Under the law, a vote is sometimes required, while other times, it may only be necessary to inform condo owners of upcoming changes. Below are some additional facts about this process.

Defining Common Elements

Besides the units, most portions of a condo complex are considered common elements. Some examples include clubhouses, swimming pools, fitness centres, elevators and electrical rooms, lobbies and hallways, walkways, and landscaped areas. According to the Ontario Condominium Act, if changes are made to these sections, it may or may not require an owner’s vote.

Levels of Consultation

In Ontario, there are three levels of consultation that pertain to corporate-made changes to the common elements in your condo complex. Whether or not a vote or notification is required largely depends on the estimated cost of the proposed condo changes to the common elements, as well as the provincial condo laws in your area.

No Consultation

No vote is required, and you don’t have to give notice to your owners about common area changes under the following circumstances:

  • The cost of the suggested change is less than $1000.
  • The cost of the change is less than one percent of your yearly budget.
  • The work is necessary to ensure the security or safety of residents.
  • The changes are required to prevent damage to assets or property.
  • The changes are necessary to be in compliance with a mutual use agreement.

Possible Consultation and Simple Majority Vote

You must give notice to your owners about common area changes and allow them to request a meeting if the projected cost for the project exceeds $1,000 but does not exceed ten percent of the annual budget for common expenses. 

If a meeting of owners is held and a minimum of 50 percent of the owners attending the meeting vote in its favour, the condo changes can be made. You can proceed to make changes to common elements without a vote if owners fail to request a meeting within 30 days of receiving your notice. 

Mandatory Consultation 

According to condo laws in Ontario, consultation is mandatory when making changes to common elements if the cost of the proposed change is over ten percent of the common expenses annual budget. This is otherwise known as a ‘substantial change’ and requires an owner’s vote. You can only implement the change if at least 66 and 2/3rds percent of the owners vote in its favour.

When to Call a Vote

The process of determining a vote on common condo elements.

Determining when it’s appropriate to call for a vote and when such action is unnecessary primarily depends on the abovementioned guidelines, though this example is specific to Ontario condo laws. Understanding your provincial condo laws is the only foolproof way to determine when a vote is required. Our team of experts in condominium management understand the challenges of overseeing a condominium complex and our skilled agents can lift these burdens from your shoulders. Therefore, if you find yourself overwhelmed with bewildering processes and complicated laws, call us today to place these tasks in the hands of our professionals, and enjoy significantly less anxiety and greater peace of mind.