The last, and largest, part of Manitoba’s new Condominium Act came into force on February 1, 2015.
The new Condominium Act is a comprehensive rewrite of the old Condominium Act. The new Act is composed of over 300 sections, and the regulations comprise 53 sections plus multiple pages of schedules and forms. As well, the new Condominium Act has caused amendments within several other pieces of legislation.
A complete review of the new Act is beyond the limited scope of this article but there are several sections which buyers and sellers of condominium units should be aware. This article identifies some of them.
Cooling Off Period
While the old Act allowed a purchaser to cancel the offer to purchase within 48 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays), that right to cancel has been extended to 7 days (including Saturdays, Sundays, and most holidays). The clock starts running the day the offer is accepted or the day the buyer receives all the required disclosure documents. Within the 7 days following the buyer may cancel the agreement for any reason. Notice of the cancellation is to be given in writing to the seller or the seller’s agent.
The new Act allows for a second cooling off period if there is a “material change” to the information provided in the disclosure documents. The new Act provides that the seller has a duty to advise a buyer of any “material changes” that occur prior to the date of closing. A “material change” can be defined as one or more changes in the information contained in the disclosure documents given to the buyer by the seller that, when considered collectively, are so “material” that it would be reasonable for a buyer to cancel the agreement because of them.
If there is a material change then those material changes must be disclosed to the buyer using the form provided for in the Regulation. That disclosure must occur as soon as it is practicable after the seller is aware of the changes. Failure to do so could result in a lawsuit against the seller by the buyer. This notice of a material change then starts the cooling off period again and the buyer has another 7 days during which he or she may cancel the offer to purchase the condominium unit.
I am summarizing the definition, but suffice it to say that any change in the condominium should be reviewed by the seller to see if it has to be disclosed.
One of the main thrusts of the new Condominium Act is to provide the prospective buyers with enough information to decide whether or not they wish to purchase the condominium unit. Amongst the many documents that must be provided is a new and enhanced Disclosure Certificate. The type of Disclosure Certificate will depend upon who the seller is (developer or otherwise) and whether title has already been issued to the unit (some sales occur as “pre-sales”). These statements will be quite extensive and buyers should put aside sufficient time to go over them to ensure that they understand what they are buying. Another document which must be disclosed, if it exists, is a Reserve Fund Study.
Reserve Fund Studies
Condominium Corporations in Manitoba now have until February 1, 2018, to complete a Reserve Fund Study. The Reserve Fund Study must be completed, except in limited circumstances, by a professional qualified to do so. Those professions authorized to complete Reserve Fund Studies are set out within the Regulation. The purpose of the Reserve Fund Study is to provide the condominium corporation with a “plan” upon which they can ensure that they have enough funds in the reserve fund to meet capital challenges going forward. These challenges will include things such as repairs to the roof, balconies, asphalt, heating and cooling systems, and other major systems and structures within the complex. The Reserve Fund Study will play a pivotal role in the determination of what the reserve fund contributions of the unit owners will be going forward.
Some Other Changes
Other changes in the new Act include provisions with respect to the holding of meetings, the imposition of fines for breaches of by-laws and declarations, leasing levies, financial records, liens for unpaid common expense and reserve fund contributions, insurance provisions, and a multitude of other topics.