I heard there have been recent changes to condominium laws, can you hit the highlights on how this affects the average owner? – HIGH LIFE
DEAR HIGH LIFE: This past winter, the Ontario Government made changes to the Condominium Act and the Condominium Management Services Act (CMSA). The changes affect bookkeeping methods and include an updated code of ethics for management companies. The use of standardized forms is also now required, including an updated proxy form that allows someone to vote on your behalf at an AGM.
The recent changes in legislation compel management companies to operate with greater transparency and accountability, which in turn offers greater protection for condo owners. From what I understand, there won’t be much of a change for the average owner, other than the satisfaction of knowing that their property management team is operating under tighter regulations. I suspect that in some cases, condo fees may go up slightly if the new rules create a lot of extra work for the condo corporation, but I wouldn’t expect this change to be significant.
Why are there so many rented water heaters in K-W? – IN HOT WATER
DEAR HOT WATER: For the most part, Ontario homeowners tend to rent their water heaters. This province-wide phenomenon is a matter of habit as much as anything else. As a home changes hands, the rental contract tends to be passed from one homeowner to the next.
Buying a water heater will likely run you into the thousands of dollars. In an area like ours with extremely hard water, it’s reasonable to expect that the unit will experience significant wear and tear. Renting means that a homeowner doesn’t have to worry about maintenance or replacement costs, as those will be covered by the service provider. Buying a water heater means you’re on the hook for any issues that arise once it’s out of warranty. You also can’t take it with you if you move.
The house we are considering has a well, is there any way to check it out? – JACK & JILL
DEAR JJ: It’s best to check with the homeowners to see if they have any records. There is also an Ontario Well Registry online, which (among other things) can likely tell you if it was dug or drilled. Most wells I’ve searched for are on the registry, and it goes back for decades.
When buying a property with a well, I would draft provisions to address such things as water quality, flow and pressure into the offer. Public Heath provides bacterial testing for free, with results available by phone in 2-4 days.
If the well you are considering has a water quality problem, it can likely be dealt with pretty easily. If a supply problem is the issue, things tend to get quite expensive.