New rules on occupancy dates for condos expected this year

After many delays, the Alberta government plans on introducing new condo law reforms this year.

Updates to the Alberta Condominium Act have been a long time coming. Having first been written in 2000, amendments to the act, largely designed to protect consumers who plan on purchasing a condo, have been promised multiple times since then, most notably in 2014, according to CBC News. However, those amendments were either never passed by lawmakers or never implemented. That may finally change as the provincial government has indicated that 2017 will be the year when it finally starts to introduce some of these long-awaited reforms.

Amendments delayed

There have been two major bills in recent years that have aimed at modernizing the Alberta Condominium Act: Bill 13, which was introduced in 2013, and Bill 9, which was similar to Bill 13 but passed in 2014. The implementation of the 2014 law was delayed, however, by the surprise election result of 2015.

Now, however, it seems that some of those proposed changes will finally become a reality. As the Calgary Herald reports, the 2014 act included 50 proposed amendments and the provincial government says it plans on implementing about 20 percent of those amendments at some point in 2017. That first phase will likely include changes designed to bolster consumer protection rules for condo buyers, such as new requirements for placing buyers' deposits into trusts and setting up stricter rules for operating budgets and condo fees.

Occupancy dates a priority

However, one of the main priorities for the first round of amendments will likely concern rules around occupancy dates. Under current law developers are not required to provide condo buyers with an expected occupancy date and even if they do there are few penalties if that occupancy date is missed. Construction delays can seriously inconvenience buyers and may even prove costly for them while they wait to move in. In some cases, buyers have had to endure years of construction delays without being able to get their deposits back.

Under the incoming rules, however, developers would have to include an expected occupancy date in the purchase agreement. If that occupancy date is missed by more than 30 days, then the buyer would have a right to either be refunded his or her deposit or to renegotiate the agreement.

Real estate law

Buying or selling real estate is a major transaction and one that should not be done in a hurry or left to chance. Overlooking the details of any purchase agreement may prove costly in the future. That is why consulting with a real estate lawyer is so important. An experienced lawyer can help both buyers and sellers ensure that any paperwork respects their rights and interests while also making sure that clients meet all of their legal responsibilities and obligations.