Readers keen on comparing Canadian and American condominium law should take note of a significant development south of the border, recently reported by attorney Mark Payne at Colorado HOA Law Blog.

In February 2009, the American Bar Association approved the Uniform Law Commission’s proposed amendments to the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act ("UCIOA").  This model law covers all aspects of common interest ownership and, as with all uniform model laws, was prepared by a national body of lawyers and stakeholders who then recommended its use in all American states. Each state may then choose whether to implement all, some or none of the model law, but model laws are commonly used in brainstorming and customizing new laws.

This set of amendments to UCIOA is the product of four years’ work and is only the third revision of this model law that first emerged in 1982 as a combination of the Uniform Condominium Act (1980), Uniform Planned Community Act (1980), and the Model Real Estate Cooperatives Act (1981).   With the third set of amendments, the model law is now known colloquially as "UCIOA 3.0."  

UCIOA 3.0 contains prefatory notes that outline the history of the development of this model law and describe the effect of amendments made since the original law was adopted in 1982. 

In addition to numerous amendments dealing with owner/association issues, new features of UCIOA 3.0 provide:

  • confirmation that the costs of services provided to unit owners by the association will enjoy the benefit of the association’s statutory lien;
  • considerable discretion for an association to decide whether or not to strictly enforce its rules and governing documents;
  • new provisions dealing with termination or restructuring of a project in the face of a natural disaster;
  • creation of a ‘cooling off’ period before an association commences construction litigation against a developer;
  • increased mandatory insurance, and other topics.

In terms of owner/association issues, UCOIA 3.0 introduces as a major new feature a stand-alone bill of rights for owners, known as the Uniform Common Interest Owners Bill of Rights Act ("UCIOBORA"). Some of the highlights of this bill of rights include:

  • Powers and duties of a unit owners association and their executive boards.
  • Treatment of association bylaws, rulemaking, operation and governance, notice methods, meeting and voting procedures,together with governing provisions for the adoption of budgets and special assessments.
  • Authority to discipline unit owners for failure to pay assessments.
  • Flexibility for Boards to decide whether to enforce the letter of each provision of its declaration, bylaws, or rules, ordecline to enforce or compromise on such.
  • Guidance for record keeping.
  • Procedures for the removal of officers and directors, and protections for declarant-appointed directors.

Whether any state enacts law incorporating any or all of the features of this new bill of rights remains to be seen.

Feel free to post a comment and share your thoughts on this important milestone or if you discover any helpful lessons in the American model laws that can help improve our own condo law.