The Stage 3 re-opening plan came into effect on July 13, 2020 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protections Act (“EMCPA”).
Currently, there is a continued need for Boards to be cognizant of protecting the residents from the COVID-19 virus.
The Occupiers’ Liability Act sets out that the corporation has a duty to “take care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that persons entering on the premises, and the property brought on the premises by those persons are reasonably safe while on the premises”.
The Condominium Act, 1998 provides “No person shall permit a condition to exist or carry on an activity in a unit or in the common elements if the condition or the activity is likely to damage the property or cause injury to an individual”.
The Board of Directors should review each common element amenity by weighing the health risks versus the need and right to use it. Not only amenities, but all common areas of the property such as elevators, lobbies, parking garages, storage locker rooms, bike storage rooms, etc. should have appropriate use policies and signage to provide direction on distancing and permitted numbers of use.
In Middlesex County, The Middlesex-London Health Unit (“MLHU”) advised that Class B pools can open with certain strict conditions such as maximum occupancy and measures to ensure social distancing is maintained. Additionally, there are an assortment of costs to the corporation to be considered such as: PPE equipment; signage; staff or software to manage occupancy/distancing policies; and increased management costs. Many corporations don’t have these additional funds in their budget and will have to make unpopular decisions.
The topic of a rebate or reduction in common expenses has almost certainly been raised at most condominiums. While it may be easy to confuse that common expense payments are payments for services to a ‘landlord’ for example, that is not the case in a condominium. Most corporations are still opening and maintaining the areas for several reasons, some of which are: to prevent having to deal with the consequences of sitting water such as West Nile Virus, equipment maintenance, prevention of seized up pumps, etc.
Additionally, should the government’s position change, the amenity will be ready to open without delay. Safety must be first and foremost in the Board’s considerations and final decisions.
Stay tuned for updates to the protocols. Although it’s reasonable to assume the residents want to get back to normal use of the amenities, we may be in for a longer ride than originally anticipated and Boards of Directors should discuss, minute, and be prepared to create and amend policies as required to accommodate whatever the provincial position is on use.
So, at your next Board meeting, ensure all the common elements/amenities/collision areas of the property are inventoried on the agenda and be prepared to discuss, minute and communicate the Board’s decisions.
Jennifer Zammit, ACCI, RCM, GL, Licensed Realtor
Vice President, Trademark Property Management