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When will consumers get the relief they need with Condos in Alberta?

The Importance of Bill 9

Hi Folks, this was such a great article just posted, that I knew I had to send it out directly.  Estefania, thank you for writing this, you clearly articulate what so many consumers have experienced and are working to correct.  Personally, I am involved with the same issues as written in your article and I hope by this reposting that I help to bring awareness to my community and circles.

http://www.sherwoodparknews.com/2016/01/28/the-importance-of-bill-9

  By Estefania Cortez-Vargas, Special to the Sherwood Park News

Thursday, January 28, 2016 11:00:00 MST PM

Bill 9, the Condominium Property Amendment Act, 2014, was passed in the Alberta legislature in December 2014. Since then, Service Alberta staff have been developing regulations and the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) is developing licensing standards for condominium managers.

Since being elected in May 2015, I have met with many stakeholders and constituents about their concerns and experiences with this legislation. It has been made quite clear that this review is important, as many have felt the impact of the act as it currently stands.

In consultations conducted with owners and buyers, condo boards and organizations, property managers and developers, realtors and lawyers, we heard concerns about the previous government’s handling of this legislation and their stakeholder strategy. In response, we took the unprecedented step of putting draft regulations online for all to see. We received nearly 300 responses to our survey — 75 per cent coming directly from condo owners. These responses indicate broad support for enhancements to protections proposed by these regulations.

The regulations are intended to improve protection for purchasers and existing owners, enhance board transparency and accountability, allow for efficient governance, raise standards in Alberta’s condominium management sector, and enhance dispute resolution.

Regulations are being drafted and will be rolled out in four phases. Phase 1 focuses on developer obligations and enforcement powers. Phase 2; insurance, repair and maintenance obligations, corporation governance and reserve funds. Phase 3 will be conducted by RECA and will address regulation of the condominium management sector. Phase 4 will create a condominium dispute tribunal.

The bill also aims to raise standards in Alberta’s condominium management sector by giving RECA authority to license and regulate managers. RECA is working directly with the condominium management sector and will consult the condominium community at-large, including owners, to determine the appropriate regulatory framework and cost structure.

Our government is committed to strengthening consumer protection, improving consumer confidence and balancing the interests of stakeholders in the condo market. That is why we will continue to take an open, public, and consumer rights-based approach to completing these important regulations.

More regulations are needed to complete Bill 9. I encourage all stakeholders to visit www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca/Consumer-condominiums.cfm for information and updates, and to provide feedback. I can also be reached directly through my constituency office.

I would like to express my gratitude to those of you who have spent countless hours discussing this matter with me. I will continue to consult with you and look forward to future conversations and input as we move ahead.

Estefania Cortes-Vargas is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Strathcona-Sherwood Park Constituency. If you have any comments or questions concerning this column or other provincial government issues, please contact Estefania at her constituency office located at #19 – 99 Wye Rd., Sherwood Park, T8B 1M1. Telephone: 780-416-2492 or e-mail: strathcona.sherwoodpark@assembly.ab.ca.

Further resources about licensed property managers and unlicensed assistants in Alberta.

As of December of 2014, Alberta Legislation passed that all property managers must be licensed with and registered to the Real Estate Council of Alberta. https://www.reca.ca/consumers/standards/condominium-manager-regulation.html

A RECA consumer alert regarding unlicensed property managers: https://www.reca.ca/consumers/publications/news-releases/2015/15-01-19-Schuller-Consumer-Alert.html

‘Consumers are encouraged to work only with licensed industry professionals.

Licensed individuals must meet and maintain rigorous licensing requirements, including:

  • providing a Certified Criminal Record Check prior to licensing
  • completing comprehensive pre-licensing education and ongoing re-licensing education, and,
  • maintaining errors and omissions insurance.

In the event of a licensee’s fraud, breach of trust or failure to account or disburse money in accordance with the terms of trust, a consumer may be eligible for compensation from RECA’s consumer compensation fund. Consumers who work with unlicensed individuals are not eligible for compensation from RECA’s consumer compensation fund.’

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