Written by Alixe Cameron and Christie Conway
Alberta's provincial election is fast approaching and that can only mean two things: bright-eyed candidates door-knocking across the province, and an increasing number of calls to our office from landlords and property managers asking us if they actually have to let these would-be-MPs into their buildings.
Whether or not you relish the opportunity to debate with your local candidates on the pressing political issues of the day, or are, shall we say, less-than-thrilled to be pulled away from your quality Netflix-and-sweatpant-time (also known as evenings and weekends), most of us have some opinion about door-to-door campaigning. However, whatever your personal prerogative may be when it comes to the age-old election practice of door-knocking, if you happen to own or manage an apartment building, condominium building, or even a gated community or mobile home park, there are a few things you need to know.
What Regulates Campaigning in Alberta?
The Election Act (the Act) governs the administration of provincial elections, enumerations, by-elections and plebiscites in Alberta. The Act also sets out the rights of candidates and campaign workers with respect to canvassing and has specific provisions to deal with "multiple dwellings sites" which include apartment and condominium buildings, as well as any site in which more than one residence is contained, such as a mobile home park, gated community or any similar site.
Right of Access for Campaigning
Pursuant to the Act, candidates and campaign workers are granted the right of free access to multiple dwelling sites and the residential units within for the purpose of campaigning between 9 am and 9 pm daily. Accordingly, a person in control of a multiple dwelling site, such as a landlord, property manager or condominium corporation, is required to permit a candidate or campaign worker to canvass at each residential unit within the site; and it is a violation of the Act for any person to obstruct or interfere with the free access of the candidate or campaign worker once inside the multiple dwelling site.
All candidates and campaign workers must be identified by a visibly displayed campaign worker identification badge in order to gain access to a multiple dwelling site. Each badge has a unique number which is recorded to track to whom the badge has been issued. If you have any questions, concerns or require any additional information about the identification of a candidate or campaign worker you can contact the Community Outreach representative at Elections Alberta.
Election Signs and Posters
Landlords, property managers and condominium corporations should also be aware that the terms of a residential lease or other internal rules or regulations of a multiple dwelling site, including the bylaws of condominium corporation, do not apply to election signs.
Pursuant to the Act, landlords or persons acting on a landlord's behalf cannot prohibit a tenant from displaying election posters on the premises to which the tenant's lease relates. Similarly, condominium corporations or any of their agents cannot prohibit the owner or tenant of a condominium unit from displaying election posters on the premises of his or her unit. For the purpose of the Act, "premises" includes land or a window, door, balcony or other structure of which the owner or tenant enjoys exclusive use in connection with his or her unit.
That said, a landlord or condominium corporation as referred to above, are permitted to set reasonable conditions relating to the size or type of election poster that may be displayed within a tenant or owner's premises and have the right to prohibit the display of election posters in the common areas of a multiple dwelling site.
BOTTOM LINE: If you own or manage an apartment or condominium building or other multiple dwelling site, yes, you are legally required to let candidates and campaign workers into the building or onto the property to canvass electors, albeit within certain parameters. You also cannot stop your tenants or condominium owners from putting up election signs or posters on their premises, but you can regulate the size and type of signs or posters within reason.