The former owner of a condominium unit says she is missing out on a financial windfall that was meant for her after the board cut a cheque from the proceeds of litigation to the new owner.
Aliyyah Mohamed lived in her northeast Condo for four years and says in that time she paid thousands of dollars to fix mistakes made by the builder of the complex.
She says she put in more than $23,000 in special assessments to repair the building envelope and sue the builder.
Months after she sold her unit, she learned that the condo board had won its suit and was writing cheques to the owners.
Mohamed called the board to get her money and says she was told that the $17,000 cheque had already been cut to the new owner.
“It didn't feel fair. I believe that it's wrong on principle that the money was issued to the new owner who had nothing to do with, didn't have to bear any of the financial burden of all the previous assessments,” said Mohamed.
CTV Calgary’s Consumer Specialist Lea Williams-Doherty looked into the matter and found out that as unfair as it sounds, it’s all perfectly legal.
In a letter, the condo board's lawyer told Mohamed that the board had simply complied with the law requiring it to pay money owed to the owner of record.
Lea spoke with a real estate lawyer who confirmed that absent any special agreement to the contrary, that is the law.
“The person who owns a unit is going to get their share of whatever money comes back from a law suit, selling property of the condo, whatever in-source of funds that comes in to the condominium would cease being payable to a seller and would start being payable to a buyer,” said real estate lawyer, Jeff Kahane.
Kahane says unlike single family home ownership, when you buy a condo you’re actually buying your condo unit as well as shares in the condo corporation that manages your complex. That means there are different rules and laws than you might expect.”
“If it was a corporation and you had a dividend coming out but you sold your shares, you wouldn't get it, so it's important to think of a condominium as it is, it’s a condo corporation, where you live,” he said.
Mohamed says she told her realtor about the lawsuit against the builder but says he told her that demanding a special ‘litigation proceeds' agreement for money that may never materialize might scare off potential buyers.
The realtors' licensing body, the Real Estate Council of Alberta, says realtors have a duty to fully discuss and protect their client’s interests.