Posted on Oct 16, 2017

Fair rules for all condo owners

Sherwood Park News - October 16, 2017

 A quarter of all Albertans live in condos, so we want to make sure we have fair, modern rules in place that will protect condo buyers and strengthen the industry. More than a year ago, Jerry Keller walked into my office carrying a binder packed with information about condominium owners’ associations in Sherwood Park and a listing of the condo developments in the Strathcona-Sherwood Park constituency. This condo file had been under consultation since 2015. I would like to thank Keller for his advocacy and dedication for improving the laws around condo ownership. I know he is part of a larger group of folks in our area whose housing lifestyles are shifting. As our population ages, we look for alternative living arrangements that can accommodate evolving needs. New rules to protect Albertans’ interests when they purchase a condo have now been established. Albertans deserve protection when they make a purchase, and no purchase is more important than buying a home. These new rules will make life better for Albertans and will benefit our economy by increasing consumer confidence in the market. Alberta’s condominium legislation, prior to these changes, was out of date and Albertans have suffered as a result. For example, developers were providing insufficient point-of-sale disclosures, boards were issuing unfair bylaw sanctions, there were no qualifications for condominium managers, and disputes were often settled through the courts. I have a deep appreciation for those individuals who came to my office to explain their local stories. It truly supports me in being an effective voice for our community. These new rules come into effect on Jan. 1, 2018 and are the first set of changes to be implemented to make life better for Alberta condo owners. In this first set of improvements, we have made life more affordable for Albertans by increasing transparency and accountability so Albertans can be confident about their condo investment. Homebuyers will have more information from developers at the point of sale, including a move-in date they can count on, and better protection for their deposit funds held in trust. Buyers will have options on how to take action if the unit they receive is not what they thought they were buying. We have new inspection and enforcement powers to ensure developers are following the rules. We’ve done a lot of work, but we’re not finished yet. We also want to make day-to-day condo living easier for Albertans, and we need your input. This summer, we invited Albertans to come to five open houses across the province to tell us in person how we could go about improving day-to-day condo living. We have used what we heard to develop an online survey to continue this important conversation. From now until Nov. 10, we are inviting Albertans to provide their feedback through an online survey. Topics include rules on renting out your condo, management of reserve funds, how meetings are run and voting procedures, and qualification and training requirements for property managers. We will use the results to develop new rules to improve governance of condominium corporations in Alberta. Our goal is to have new governance regulations come into effect in 2018, and a dispute resolution tribunal set up by 2019. If you live in or own a condominium, manage a condominium unit, serve on a condominium board, or have any other involvement with condominiums, we want to hear from you. Your feedback will help improve condominium living for years to come. The survey is available at condo.alberta.ca. Estefania Cortes-Vargas is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Strathcona-Sherwood Park Constituency. If you have any comments or questions concerning this column or other provincial government issues, please contact Estefania at her constituency office located at #19 – 99 Wye Rd., Sherwood Park, T8B 1M1. Telephone: 780-416-2492 or e-mail: strathcona.sherwoodpark@assembly.ab.ca.