Yukon seeks feedback on new condo rules

The Yukon government is nearing the end of a years-long process to modernize its Land Titles Act and Condominium Act. The territory is currently seeking feedback on draft legislation.

The Yukon government is nearing the end of a years-long process to modernize its Land Titles Act and Condominium Act.

The territory is currently seeking feedback on draft legislation. The government expects to table the bills this spring.

The Condominium Act in particular will be of interest to Yukoners who own a condo or are interested in one day owning one.

“On a day-to-day basis, the rules in the Condominium Act affect the way people who own condominiums interact with each other and the way they manage their properties,” said Graham Lang, a Whitehorse lawyer who chairs the Canadian Bar Association’s real estate section for the Yukon.

The update is designed to give firmer rules for developers and condo corps to prevent conflicts, he said.

“We’re hoping that these changes are going to help condos work better, and lead to less strife within the condominium corps.”

He gave the example of the conflict around the development at Falcon Ridge, where the condo corporation took the developer to court because it disagreed with the design of a further phase of development.

“The Falcon Ridge incident almost certainly wouldn’t have existed if we had modern legislation,” said Lang.

“In other jurisdictions there’s a whole rule structure around how that happens. How you tell people what you’re building, how you build, how you work on your second, third, fourth, fifth phase. There’s all those rules around it. We don’t have those, so we’re constantly trying to shoehorn in processes that the act doesn’t recognize.”

One of the things the new legislation will do is set up those sort of rules for phased development.

Another thing the legislation will regulate is the way that members of condo corps interact with each other.

Right now, a condo owner can vote on behalf of an unlimited number of other members by proxy at meetings, said Lang.

The new legislation suggests that one person can hold a maximum of two proxy votes, unless otherwise stated in the condo board’s regulations.

The new act will also set rules for a mandatory reserve fund to pay for major common expenses, for example, if the roof of a shared condo building needs replacement.

It can be tricky to determine what level of reserve funds is appropriate, because different condo complexes have different degrees of shared property, said Lang.

“There are some condominium developments that have very little in the way of common maintenance, and there’s other ones that have huge issues with common maintenance, like ones with elevators, that kind of thing.”

But the alternative to regulating an appropriate reserve fund is having members hit with big bills when major repairs come up, and people don’t like that either, said Lang.

Information about the content of the new condo act is available on the Department of Justice website, along with a discussion document and feedback forms.

“The important thing is for people in condominiums, certainly their boards, to take a look at these situations, figure out what works for them, what doesn’t and comment accordingly,” said Lang.

Once these rules are set in stone, Yukoners likely won’t get another chance at legislative changes for decades, he said.

“This is a once-in-a-generation type change.”

Changes to the Land Titles Act really won’t affect most Yukoners in any significant way, said Lang.

That act describes the process for recording land titles and other interests related to land.

“The whole thing is really dry. This couldn’t be a drier subject for you,” he said.

“It’s a very technical act that is really more of interest to lawyers, surveyors and banks, than it is to individuals,” said Lang.

The changes will modernize the act and make the process a bit smoother, said Lang.

The current act is basically in the same form as the 1899 Canadian Lands Act, he said.

“It hasn’t really been updated since. There’s been one amendment since that time. It’s an old act, and it doesn’t contemplate some things that have happened in the last 115 years.”

Some of the more urgent pieces of the modernization have already been dealt with, he said.

At an administrative level the government has dealt with a delay with the transfer of land titles that was causing strife with Outside bankers, who are used to these things happening much more quickly, said Lang.

And one small legislative amendment was pushed through last year.

“Under our act, you couldn’t grant an easement to yourself on your own land. So now they’ve changed that. That makes development a lot easier, but it’s really boring to talk about, and it doesn’t make any sense, unless you’re a developer or a lawyer.”

The government will accept feedback on the proposed land titles and condominium acts through Jan. 31. Visit the Department of Justice website for more information.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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