Passing Bylaws

December 2017

Bylaws are a crucial part of your condo corporation’s governing documents.

Management and directors are expected to adhere to whatever bylaws are in place for your condo corporation.  There is no flexibility in choosing to ignore bylaws or to reinterpret them.

Changing bylaws requires a quorum of directors AND support from over 50% of unit owners.  This high threshold is intended to make changes to bylaws impossible without majority support of condo owners.  It is this high threshold that results in many condo boards choosing to avoid revising them.

There are times when it is necessary to change or revise bylaws.

Many well intended changes to bylaws fail to pass because of owner apathy.  A majority of condo owners choosing not to participate in a vote to change bylaws can prevent even changes deemed necessary by all.

Ensuring support for a bylaw change requires a high degree of communication.  It is in the communication process where condo management and directors are most likely to fail when seeking bylaw changes.

Focus on a Single Bylaw

Keep things simple by focusing on one bylaw change at a time.  While this may not be the most efficient method, it is one that has a greater chance of being successful.

Where multiple bylaws need to be considered set aside an extended period of time for proper communication.  Communicate each proposed change separately to avoid owner confusion and frustration.

When it is impractical to consider multiple bylaws individually, focus on communicating the core intent of proposed bylaw changes.  Explaining each bylaw individually in legalese without providing an easily understood explanation leads to apathy, mistrust and frustration among condo owners.

Translate Bylaws to Clear Language

Documentation drafted by condo lawyers is unlikely to be read by a majority of condo owners.  Such documents tend to be too long and confusing for the average condo owner to read.  Proposed bylaw changes should be made more concise and void of legal terminology.  Do this in a one page letter that accompanies legal material that needs to be distributed to condo owners.  For each proposed bylaw change explain why the change is necessary, how owners will benefit and what may happen if the proposed bylaw change is not passed.

Changing bylaws is hard enough under the best of circumstances.  Failing to adequately articulate proposed changes and the reasons for a change is an unnecessary complication easily avoided.

Communicate

Leave notice packages by each door or send by mail but don’t assume most will read it.

Make use of bulletin boards, electronic bulletin boards, newsletters and all electronic communication channels to make sure the information is being read.  Send new communications weekly through all available channels until the date of the meeting and vote.

Each communication should be easily read and understood in less than ten seconds.

Effective communication is a long and laborious process.  Getting it done right may require outside expertise.  Ineffective communication increases the likelihood that bylaw modifications do not get passed.