Few topics may evoke less of an emotional response than ‘condominium records’. The preservation of corporate minute books, financial ledgers, and employment contracts rarely ignite the imagination or captivate public attention. That said, condominium records often represent the physical ‘nerve-centre’ of any corporation. As superintendents retire, unit owners move, boards evolve, and professionals come and go, the net effect is that after a few short years, the only ‘institutional knowledge’ left in the building may lie in the records.
Although records serve as an important lamppost for any future board, they also provide a vital portal in the affairs of the corporation for the vast majority of those unit owners who never serve on the board. Between annual general meetings the Condominium Act, 1998, S.O. 1998, c.19, poses few demands on boards to communicate with unit owners. By accessing a corporation’s records, unit owners can gain valuable insight into the stewardship of their condominium. To that end, since the beginning of condominium legislation in 1967, unit owners have always been granted the liberal right to access such records.
Despite this, a new passage contained in the Condominium Act, 1998, S.O. 1998, c.19; (“the new Act”), has led some boards to now control or ‘gate-keep’ unit owners access to records. A growing number of unit owners have only been granted access to condominium records, once they have supplied their reason, intention or purpose behind their request.
For the reasons to follow, it is strongly believed that this interpretation is wrong, that it contradicts the overall pursuit and aim of the new Act, and ultimately spells trouble for a board of directors who embrace it.
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