The new Alberta government is being urged to re-evaluate Bill 9, which includes protections for new condominium buyers.

New government being urged to start over to better protect new homebuyers

With the election of a new provincial government, Alberta’s proposed Bill 9, which significantly amends the Condominium Property Act, is up in the air, according to CBC News. The bill, which is one step away from becoming law, is meant to better protect new homebuyers in Alberta’s growing condominium market. Critics of the bill, however, say that those protections do not go far enough and they are calling on the new government to start over. Specifically, critics say that the current bill still allows developers to avoid liability for unfinished developments, which exposes new homeowners to unexpected and high fees.

PROPOSED CHANGES

As the Calgary Herald reported late last year, Bill 9 included 50 amendments that were designed to update existing condominium law. The changes are considered necessary given that construction of multi-family dwellings is outpacing single-family ones in the province.

Among the new protections included in the bill are greater disclosure requirements, including more information on home warranties, occupancy dates, and potential changes to a purchase agreement. The bill would also have included new requirements for developers to pay the condo fees of unsold units, to keep buyers’ cash deposits with an authorized trustee, and to meet stricter requirements for converting existing buildings into condominiums.

HOLES STILL EXIST

While Bill 9 was largely expected to pass under the previous government, with the election of a new provincial government the proposed legislation may face further review. Critics of the proposed law, in fact, say that Bill 9 falls far short in adequately protecting new condo buyers, specifically as regards developers’ liability.

Those critics claim that developers are currently able to set up separate corporate entities that can protect the developers themselves from lawsuits if a development is unfinished. For homeowners that have bought units in these unfinished projects, the developers’ limited liability means that the cost of finishing the project is sometimes placed on the shoulders of the homebuyers themselves. Critics say that such a legal loophole needs to be addressed in any proposed legislation designed to protect condominium owners.

REAL ESTATE LAW

While debate on updating Alberta’s condominium law continues, the above article should serve as a reminder to all potential homebuyers of how important it is to consult with a qualified real estate lawyer when purchasing a new home. An experienced lawyer can help new homebuyers during their transactions and help them avoid any unwanted surprises before they take the keys to their new home.