At long last, there’s a glimmer of hope that the terrible new Condo Act forms introduced in 2017 may soon be improved.

On September 20, 2019, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services announced a proposal to entrust the fledgling Condominium Authority of Ontario with administering (and revising) certain Condo Act forms.

Of the 19 forms proposed to be delegated to CAO, 15 are new forms introduced in November 2017. The other 4 are older forms including the all-important status certificate, the notice of future funding of the reserve fund (formerly known as “Form 15”) and the often-ignored summary of lease or renewal under Condo Act, s.83. If the proposal is approved, these latter 2 forms would come under CAO control in July 2020 while the other 17 forms would switch over in January 2020.  This short timetable leaves just enough time to make the necessary regulatory changes.

The window for making submissions on this proposal is a very short 10 days, expiring September 30.  Make your comments by email from the regulatory registry website.

Ontario Bar Association, representing lawyers across the province, filed a submission strongly supporting the proposal. Highlights of the OBA submission include:

The delegation of the Forms to the CAO is consistent with the vision of the 2013 Condominium Act Review Expert Panel and Working Groups that recommended the creation of the CAO in order to be a trusted source of information and to serve the needs of Ontario’s condominium communities. This proposal will further strengthen the CAO’s role in the condominium community.

The CAO is in a unique position to obtain feedback from all stakeholders and to amend the Forms as necessary in order to address stakeholder feedback as well as technological advances. There have been criticisms levelled against the Forms in their current edification, and we believe that the CAO is best positioned to seek input from the condominium community and respond to and address those criticisms in a timely and effective manner.

Further, this will have the added benefit of transferring administrative costs and resources from the Ministry to the CAO which is funded by the Forms’ users, namely Ontario’s condominium community.

In addition to these astute observations, we at Ontario Condo Law Blog point out:

  1. Hosting the forms someplace easy to navigate makes CAO a naturally good choice to administer the forms. Government has done an abysmal job at hosting forms online since at least 2011 when we wrote “Where did all the Condo Act forms go?” Anyone trying to find condo forms using the government website is looking for frustration, and CAO has done a thoughtful job arranging them and providing useful guides.
  1. It would be nice if CAO considered re-introducing a numbering system along the lines that that helped us navigate the old forms from 2001 until 2011 when government quietly scrapped form numbering. And including a method to identify versions or revision dates would be both helpful and appreciated, seeing as how condo managers have an ethical obligation to use the most recent forms.
  1. It would also be nice if the forms were re-branded to remove the government logos, which was a bad idea to begin with. Using CAO’s logo instead seems more sensible and would help CAO raise its profile, but it’s ideal to allow condominium corporations to brand the forms with their own logos or those of their management firm.
  1. Using its public registry, CAO could easily count the number of common element condo corporations and consider whether creating a separate set of forms for that type of condominium makes sense. Removing references to common element condo corporations from the forms every other type of condominium corporation must use would make those forms less confusing for everyone.
  1. CAO can and should strike a committee to compile the various critiques and feedback on the forms, including the contents of our infamous “Freaking Awful” post from February 2018. Those comments are as relevant today as then.

For those of us who have suffered for the past 2 years using the new forms, improvement cannot come soon enough.  To this day, condo managers, directors and lawyers regularly uncover new problems with these forms that were intended to address every possible scenario but do so poorly, while creating new snafus and disputes.

The prospect of these forms being substantially improved in the near future is welcome news.