Hierarchy of Condo Documents

December 2018

Documents governing condominium corporations have a hierarchy which determines their importance and influence on condo governance.

At the top of the list is the Condominium Act which regulates the creation, ownership and governance of condominiums. This document is created through legislation implemented by the Province of Ontario. No other documents should include rules, by-laws or anything inconsistent with this document.

A Declaration exists for each condo corporation at the time it is registered by the developer. A declaration defines the number of units, common elements and boundaries of the corporation. It specifies percentage of ownership of each unit which helps determine the allocation of expenses paid by each condo owner. A declaration may control smoking, balcony use, commercial use of some areas, insurance requirements and many other aspects of condo living. A declaration can only be changed with majority support of condo owners; usually between 80 and 90 percent support is required depending on the type of amendment.

By-laws exist to address condo corporation governance. By-laws may be created or revised to address director qualifications, quorum, standard unit definitions, property management, restrictions on use of common elements or authority to borrow money. Condo directors have authority to repeal or amend by-laws so long as changes are reasonable and approved by more than 50% of all unit owners.

Rules are created for promoting the safety, security or welfare of owners and property or assets of the corporation; or intended to prevent unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of common elements or other assets of the corporation. Rules must be reasonable and consistent with the Condominium Act, declaration and by-laws. Rules are easier to adopt or change than by-laws or declaration. They can be adopted by a board of directors after complying with provisions of the Condominium Act which includes at least 30 days advance notice prior to implementation and possible vote of owners.

Condo owners and residents are obligated to abide by the Condominium Act, declaration, by-laws and rules. The condo corporation has an obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure compliance with these governing documents, and that no document is inconsistent with one higher up in the hierarchy.