Can you really get blacklisted by your condo corporation? Well, there probably won’t be any formal practice for doing so. But you certainly don’t want to start things off in your new place by making enemies of your property managers or condo corporation. That’s a sure way to start off on the wrong foot.
If you’re considering renovating your condo apartment or townhouse after taking possession, take heed. There is usually a specific protocol that should be followed to secure the necessary approvals.
And the time to begin this process is earlier than you might think.
The good news is, your property managers can help you follow the right process and lessen the impact on your neighbours at the same time.
Here’s how you can set yourself up for a smooth reno and keep your property managers on your side in the process.
Step 1: Read the Rules
When you purchased your condominium, you received a status certificate package that included the condominium corporation rules. Condo rules are essentially a playbook for how units and common areas may be used by owners.
The units are the condo apartments or townhouses. The common areas are basically everything on the premises that are shared by owners. These include things like hallways, elevators, outside patio areas, pools, walkways, gyms, and so on. Anything outside an actual unit would be a considered common area if it falls on the physical property.
A good example of rule is whether pets are permitted, if there are any restrictions to what type or size of pet owners may have, or where pets are permitted in the common areas (for example, no pets allowed on the patio with the barbeques). There may also be a rule that requires pet owners to pick up after their pets and keep them on a leash at all times.
There are rules for renovations, too. Every condo corporation has a course of action within the rules that sets out what condo owners must do to seek approval for any planned changes.
How do you know whether your project needs approval? This will likely be laid out in the condo rules, as well. However, if it's not clearly stated in the rules then it's better to ask for approval and be on the safe side.
The alternative is to find out after you've invested time and money in your renovation that you needed approval and must change everything back to its original state. All at your own cost.
The first step in your planned renovation is to read through the rules to ensure you know what is expected of you as a condo owner. You’ll be able to determine whether your undertaking is classified as one that needs approval and if so, what specific permission will be needed. Further, you will learn what the route is for those approvals and how long it may take to obtain authorization.
For example, a condo board may hold meetings the first Tuesday of each month. During this meeting, all pending proposals are reviewed and voted on for approval. Provided owners submitted their information before this monthly meeting, they could expect to hear back within 1-2 weeks.
One lovely client we worked with was considering adding a few pieces of custom cabinetry to her newly purchased condo apartment. She met with her contractor to take measurements and agree on design, installation, and timeline. At the end of that meeting the question came up, how do we coordinate the delivery and installation with the building manager?
That was the perfect opening to have the discussion around condo board approvals. Even though in this case the installation would primarily require the delivery of prefabricated cabinets with little construction done onsite, there still existed the potential for disruption.
Neighbours might be inconvenienced by loud noise, or by the fact that only one elevator was working during materials delivery. The delivery truck could block traffic, if not parked in a designated area. There might be dust pollution for the neighbours during installation, or debris left behind hallways or garages.
How neighbours may be impacted is important because it could mean infringing on the rights of other condo unit owners. Among its many responsibilities, condo corporations set out rules that govern the protection of these rights.
As a homeowner, one of your most basic rights is the right to quiet enjoyment. What does this mean? Quiet enjoyment is a right to the undisturbed use and enjoyment of real property by a landowner. This same right applies to common areas of a condo apartment or townhouse complex. No owner may disturb the quiet enjoyment of the common areas by other owners or their respective guests.
Seeking approval before you schedule the work will go a long way towards avoiding any negative backlash associated with your project.
Step 2: Obtain Approval
Once you have determined what will be involved in your specific renovation, you should have enough information to approach your property manager for approval.
The property management company is effectively the onsite, functional arm of the condo corporation. The protocol for renovations will be included in the rules for your specific building or complex. As such, you should be able to simply send an email to your property manager requesting approval for your project.
The email should include the scope of your project, the specifics, and the approximate timeline for both the delivery of items and the installation itself.
Here are some other things to consider that the condo corporation may set limits on:
- Electrical or plumbing upgrades
- Flooring type, such as authentic hardwood versus engineered
- Type of contractor who can do the work – such as requiring a contractor who is licensed
- Hours during the day that work can be done
- Where contractors may enter/exit the building and where they may offload/park
- What areas of the unit may be worked on – such as whether a back deck can be renovated in a townhouse
Every condo corporation has different requirements for these types of approvals. Try to review your condo rules before going too far down the road so you can equip yourself for a smooth pathway towards your renovation.***