Director's Course Overview
by Richard Murray
CCI-Huronia held their annual Spring Director's Course in early April and it was their best attended event ever. Many participants spoke very positively about this course. If you are a condo Director, or even an owner, you should definitely consider taking one of these courses in order to make yourself more aware of how condo corporations work and the issues with which they deal. Should you be contemplating becoming a Director sometime in the future, this would definitely help you get a head start on being an effective team member.
One of the issues discussed was insurance. It is a requirement of the Condominium Act, Section 99, that each corporation obtain and maintain insurance coverage on the building or buildings being the units and common elements. This is the “Master insurance policy”. The reference to “units and common elements” means to the insurance industry, basically the Building as originally constructed. This means that such things as internal walls, kitchen and bathroom fixtures, floors, ceilings and walls are covered by the “master policy” to pay for wall and ceiling damage (including utilities inside walls) up to and including the base coat of paint. Anything beyond that, such as wallpaper, finished basements, contents, etc. would be covered by the unit owner’s package policy. It should be pointed out that the “master” policy EXCLUDES improvements and betterments made or acquired by an owner and these items are included in a Unit Owner’s Condominium Package Policy along with additional living expenses.
It is highly likely that your board has created a Standard Unit Bylaw that clearly defines each standard unit and what is considered common property or elements. This is important to know as it may dictate what you wish to have covered in your own condo owner insurance package. Once you obtain this information, it might be prudent to review this with your individual property insurance agent to ensure that your policy covers all improvements and betterments made to the unit. It is also possible that there is duplication between the condo corporation's insurance policy and yours and you could save some money if you eliminated duplication.
One matter where requirements differ between various corporations is what types of changes or improvements to your unit need to be brought to your Board for approval prior to actually performing some replacement or improvement. If you replace your flooring with a different material or quality of product, will this have an effect on your insurance? It used to be that condo corporation insurance covered a certain quality in flooring, typically a builder grade of carpet or linoleum, and also the original paint on walls and inexpensive lighting fixtures or counter tops. If you replaced any of these types of items, any upgrade would be completely at the unit owner's expense. More recently, most condo corporations are adjusting their Standard Unit by-law to limit corporation liability to the top surface of the floor sub structure with any improvements not covered by their insurance. Any upgrades in paints, kitchen cabinetry, lighting fixtures, bathtubs or upgrades/finishing of basements then become solely an individual owner's responsibility and thus require that the owner obtain appropriate condo insurance.
The prudent condo owner therefore should undertake to determine exactly what is now covered by the corporation so as to make the proper decisions in these matters.
Richard Murray is a member of CCI Huronia and Director of CCI Huronia. He is also a director and unit owner at a condominium community in the City of Barrie.