The Trifecta

Don’t worry, this isn’t a thinly veiled piece on criminal gangs.

… even if a condo Board of Directors can make up the rules.

NERD ALERT: the following will discuss the three aspects of condo governance: the declaration, rules and bylaws. These three documents are set out in accordance with the Condominium Act.


As in any family, there’s a clear pecking order with someone at the top. In this case, it’s the Condominium Act. This document is enshrined in provincial legislation (a policy document that outlines authoritative powers and duties relating to governance) and overrides the condo’s declaration, which, in turn, overrides the condo’s rules and bylaws.

Condo Act > Condo Declaration > Condo bylaws and rules

As a reminder, the Declaration describes the responsibilities and restrictions regarding the use of condo facilities, common elements and shared spaces (check out my previous blog post for more information). Each owner receives a copy of the declaration upon buying a condo unit; for resale units (i.e. units that have been owned by at least one person already… and are being ‘resold’ to a new owner), the declaration is included with the status certificate. As always, consult a real estate lawyer to review these documents and share their legal opinion before you buy.

The bylaws are unique to each condominium corporation. They:

Govern how the condo corp operates
Outline standard procedures and requirements that deal with many regulatory issues
Bylaws are made, amended or repealed by the board of directors and must be consistent with the condo act; they complement info that may be missing or not specific enough in the declaration
They are in effect only when majority of owners of units vote in favour of them
A copy of condo bylaws must be registered in the land registry office

Like bylaws, the condo rules are unique to each condo corp. The rules:

Are directives/regulations developed by condo corp to promote safety, security and welfare of owners & tenants, and property/assets of corp
Aim to prevent unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of units and common elements

A condo’s board of directors can make, amend or repeal rules that are reasonable, concerning the common elements provided that the correct process is followed. For a new rule to take effect, the board must provide owners with a copy of the rules, the effective date and a notice that they may requisition a meeting. If no meeting (to discuss the planned change) is required within 30 days, the new rule becomes effective.

Note that for new-build condos, the builder’s lawyer(s) draw up and provide the rules (and the declaration) to all new owners.

If you plan on buying a condo, always make sure to familiarize yourself with the rules of the building before you purchase… because what you don’t want is to find yourself in a building that isn’t a good fit for you (i.e. Is there a pet limit per unit? Is the building non-smoking? What are the rules about overnight guest parking?).

Rules exist to keep everything transparent and fair in a communal living situation. After all, you want to buy into a building (i.e. a condo corp) that is organized, well run and desirable.

Abide by the rules or the head of the family will be after you… and you don’t want that.

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