On July 1, 2016, the Condominium and Common Interest Community Ombudsperson Act will go into effect. It establishes the Office of the Condominium and Common Interest Community Ombudsperson. This regulatory division is designed to educate and assist condominium and common interest community owners and managers about the Condominium Property Act and the Common Interest Community Association Act. The “Ombudsperson Act” also tasks the division with responsibilities including association registration, legislative reform, complaint resolution, and enforcement. Notably, complaints can’t be filed by unit owners until July 1, 2019 and the law will be automatically repealed July 1, 2021.
By January 1, 2017, associations must adopt a written policy for resolving complaints made by unit owners. The policy must include a sample form upon which owners can make complaints, a description of the process by which complaints are to be delivered to the Association, the Association’s timeline and manner of making final determinations in response to a unit owner’s complaints, and requirement that the final determination made by the association in response to a unit owner’s complaint be in writing, within a reasonable time after the unit owner’s original complaint, and marked clearly and conspicuously as “final”.
On or before July 1, 2018, the ombudsperson person must offer training, educational materials, and courses to unit owners, associations, boards of managers, and boards of directors in subjects relevant to the operation or management of condominiums and common interest communities and the Condominium Property Act and the Common Interest Community Association Act.
Beginning July 1, 2019, qualifying unit owners may make complaints to the Ombudsperson for assistance in resolving a dispute between a unit owner and an association that involves a violation of the Condominium Property Act or the Common Interest Community Association Act. Notably, the Ombudsperson shall not accept requests for resolutions of disputes with community association managers, or of disputes for which there is a pending complaint in any court or administrative tribunal.
In order for a unit owner to make a complaint, they must meet various qualifications, including that they must not owe any funds to the association unless those funds are central to the dispute, the dispute must have occurred within the past 2 calendar years, and the owner must have followed the above-described complaint procedure within their own Association and received a final adverse decision. The requirements of what must accompany the complaint are also outlined.
Every association is required to register with the Departmentof Financial and Professional Regulation. A registration is valid for 2 years. The initial registration for the Association existing on July 1, 2016 is due within one year, or at such later time as the Department has adopted rules and forms for registration.
Do note that common interest community associations that are exempt from the Common Interest Community Association Act are exempt from the Ombudsperson Act.