Condominium boards cannot limit the number of rental units in the building

But condo units used for short term rental like Airbnb, well that’s a different story

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Question: In our condominium, we have a lot of tenants. Too much! I want to present a motion at our next AGM (when it will be – we haven’t had an AGM in over 25 months, and that’s another issue) directing the board to take all action to change our regulations in order to cap the number of tenants in our building. Can you help me draft an appropriate motion? Please help yourself!

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Reply: The short answer is no, condominium corporations cannot limit the number of rental units by their bylaws. Condominiums are privately owned, and the condominium corporation cannot restrict how a person rents or otherwise disposes of their property – there is strong case law on this in Alberta. The Condominium Act sets out the powers of the corporation with respect to the rental of units. Essentially, society can require landlords who rent out their units to pay a deposit. If a tenant breaks bylaws or damages common property, there are mechanisms available to society to evict those tenants. Normally, in such circumstances, the regulations would provide that all costs incurred by the company would be charged to the owner of the unit.

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However, condominium companies have the power to restrict short-term rentals such as Airbnb. Airbnb agreements are distinct from traditional residential leases. In a 2020 court ruling, an Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench judge said the people who manage Airbnb listings basically operate hotels. The court concluded that Airbnb travelers are not renters; they are the functional equivalent of hotel guests who are mere licensees.

Useful advice: There are many false stereotypes about tenants: they are passing through, they don’t contribute as much to a community as landlords, and they don’t make good neighbors. Just because tenants don’t own their condominium units doesn’t mean they care less about the condo complex than owners. Here are some tips for becoming active as a tenant: Get to know your neighbors; know when meetings and / or social events take place and introduce themselves; and, if the bylaws allow tenants to sit on the board, apply for a position. Finally, if you’re looking for rental information, check out the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Rental Market Report, which provides in-depth rental market analysis, a review of rents and vacancy rates.

Roberto Noce, QC is a partner of Miller Thomson LLP in the Edmonton and Calgary offices. He welcomes your questions to [email protected] The responses are not intended as legal advice; readers are cautioned not to act on the basis of the information provided without seeking legal advice on their particular situation. Follow Noce on Twitter at @RobertNoce.

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