Elections and Condominiums Corps: What Special Rules Affect your Condo?

SK Real Estate Law FI
Nothing brings out nastiness like a good ole’ election. 

Sarcasm and personal attacks fill all sorts of communication from ads, debate, and mailouts. The tone seem set by the various political parties, and then party supporters echo talking points in a mindless echo of political banter throughout the election.  Social media platforms are filled with personal commentary and memes that are only going to ramp up as we approach our upcoming election. It’s ironic that one of the most Canadian things you can do (cast a vote) is also one of the most divisive activities in our workplaces and communities.  The speed at which we classify someone as an ‘idiot’ or ‘un-Canadian’ for supporting another party is astonishing.

The nastiness of elections can be more apparent in the emotionally charged confines of condominiums as well. A vocal supporter of a party may attempt to display all sorts of election material in an attempt to sway their neighbours in supporting for their party of choice.  This may infuriate the other residents or the members of the board, and a reactive approach just escalates the conflict.
One of the most public forms of support that the average voter takes on is the lawn sign.  Usually a simple sign featuring the party colours and the name of the candidate. However, if you have driven down Albert Street any time recently, you would notice that those signs can be larger and larger, especially if in a location with a lot of eyeballs that pass them on a given day.  Boards should be aware that there are specific rules in place for elections that need to be respected when dealing with signage. 
In the Condominium Property Act, section 36.1 notes:
Right of unit owner to display election advertising
36.1(1) No corporation or any of its agents, officers or employees shall prohibit the owner of a unit from displaying election advertising posters in or on the owner’s unit during a campaign to elect a member to the House of Commons or the Legislative Assembly or to an elected office in a municipality, school board or conseil scolaire.


(2) A corporation or any of its agents, officers or employees may:


(a) set reasonable conditions respecting the type and size of election advertising posters that may be displayed on a unit; and
(b) prohibit the display of election advertising posters on the common property.


(3) All election advertising posters that are displayed pursuant to subsection (1) must be removed within seven days after the date of the election to which the posters relate.


In short, the condominium corporation cannot prohibit the unit owner from displaying election posters in or on their unit, but can set reasonable guidelines on the type of signage that will be displayed.  More importantly, they can prohibit signage on the common property completely.  Other than bare land condominium communities, this will restrict most individuals to posting the signage to inside their living quarters if desired by the condominium corporation.  Most units do not include the exterior of their living quarters.  In fact, many patios are considered exclusive use common property, and not part of the unit.    
It is beneficial to be proactive about these issues before a conflict arises.  While it may not practical for to be in place for this election, it would be useful to prepare a policy (and an appropriate bylaw if one is not in place already) on how the board will allow signage to be displayed from units (size and other characteristics important to the community).  It should also determine if it will allow election signage on the common property, and if so, where and how it will be displayed. 
**Bonus info** – Section 36.11 of the Act speaks to access to the property by a candidate of a federal, provincial or civic election.  Provided that the candidate or their authorized agent or representative provide the requisite information, and show up during a reasonable time, a condominium corporation cannot restrict them from the common property.
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