Handling Condo Disputes in Ontario

The Condominium Act, 1998, is responsible for setting out the legal foundation for the establishment, management, and operation of condominiums in the province of Ontario. This is the main piece of legislation governing that governs condominium law in Ontario. The Act seeks to safeguard condo residents and provide fairness and transparency in condo life.

What is the Condominium Act, 1998?

The formation and registration of condominium organizations, the functions and duties of condo boards, and the rights and obligations of unit owners are all covered in extensive detail within the Condominium Act, 1998. Certain aspects of financial management such reserve funds, common expenses, and insurance requirements are also included. Under certain circumstances, such as when damage originates from an owner’s unit and the corporation has an appropriate bylaw in place, the Act requires condominium corporations to maintain adequate insurance and enables them to recoup certain costs from unit owners.

Furthermore, the declarations, bylaws, and regulations that apply to condominium organizations must be compliant with the Condominium Act. The declaration, which outlines essential details such unit borders and common features, serves as the corporation’s constitution. Administrative specifics such as the makeup and election of the condo board, the gathering of common costs, and meeting procedures are covered by the bylaws. The focus of rules is on daily life, and they must be reasonable and not unnecessarily interfere with the use and enjoyment of the property.

The Condominium Act of 1998 gives condo corporations the authority to establish and implement regulations. The foundation for the formation and management of condominium corporations is outlined in this Act, which also grants them the power to enact bylaws and regulations governing resident behaviour and the usage of common areas. Rules control daily life to maintain harmony in the community, while bylaws usually address administrative and governing matters.​

What are Condominium Boards Responsible for?

In addition to upholding regulations, keeping up common areas, and overseeing money, condominium boards are in charge of overseeing the daily operations of the condominium corporation. When landlords or owners feel the board is not doing its job or is acting unfairly, disputes frequently result. Frequent problems consist of Maintenance and repairs, rule enforcement, and financial management.

Maintenance repairs encompass conflicts about who is in charge of maintenance and repairs, especially when it comes to individual units against communal areas Disputes about Rule Enforcements involve disagreements about the application of condominium rules, including those pertaining to noise, pets, and shared facilities

Financial Management pertains to conflicts pertaining to reserve fund management, special assessments, and common expense collection.

What options do I have for filing a dispute with the condo board?

Internal Dispute Resolution is one possible option for people who wish to file a dispute with the condo board. Many condo corporations have certain procedures put in place for resolving disputes internally, which includes processes like mediation or arbitration.

Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) is another potential option. CAT sets out an online platform for resolving specific types of condo disputes, such as issues related to records requests and rule enforcement. Its primary        and purpoe is to offer a more accessible and cost-efficient alternative to traditional court proceedings​ which would otherwise be quite costly.

Another option might be to take Legal Action. In cases where internal resolution and CAT are not adequate, owners or tenants might choose to commence legal action.. This involves hiring a condominium lawyer to represent their interests in court.​ Again, this option should be avoided if possible since it can get quite costly. Traditionally, other options are pursued first before resorting to legal action.

What do Condominium Lawyers do?

Lawyers specializing in condominium matters represent individual owners or condominium companies in legal disputes. In addition to writing and evaluating governing papers, they also advise clients on legal matters and represent them in court, mediation, or arbitration. Lawyers assist clients in navigating and understanding the Condominium Act, 1998 and ensure that clients know their rights and that their rights are adequately protected.

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Recent Cases

Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation No. 1240 v. Debnath, 2023 ONCAT 56

In this case, the CAT dealt with a noise dispute where a condo owner was found to be in violation of noise and nuisance provisions. Despite the owner’s decision to not participate in the hearing, the Tribunal awarded the condo corporation only 50% of its legal fees, emphasizing the need for reasonableness in enforcing rules and assessing costs.

Here, the the applicant, Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation No. 1240 (MTCC 1240), sought an order from the Condominium Authority Tribunal requiring S. D. a unit owner, to comply with noise and nuisance provisions in its declaration and rules. MTCC 1240 also requested indemnification for legal costs incurred due to S. D.’s non-compliance to the required regulations and rules of the condo.

The case focused on allegations that S. D. was violating the rules about loud levels of noise by playing music at excessively loud volumes, causing a disturbance to her neighbours. Despite receiving numerous complaints and notices from MTCC 1240 and its legal counsel, S. D. continued to play loud music. The Tribunal noted and took into consideration that S. D. did not participate in the case, although she acknowledged receipt of the notice.

The tribunal identified two key legal issues: whether S. D. failed to comply with the condominium’s governing documents related to noise, and whether MTCC 1240 was entitled to indemnification for the costs incurred in seeking compliance.

MTCC 1240 presented extensive evidence of noise complaints from neighbours, particularly from the adjacent unit. These complaints were documented by property management and security personnel, who confirmed the loud music was audible from outside Debnath’s unit. Despite suggestions to use headphones or lower the volume, Debnath continued her behaviour.

The tribunal found that S. D. violated Section 22(a) of the MTCC 1240 declaration, Rule 8, and Section 117(2) of the Condominium Act, 1998. The evidence showed that her actions substantially interfered with the use and enjoyment of other units over several years. The tribunal ordered Debnath to comply immediately with the noise provisions.

Regarding indemnification, MTCC 1240 sought compensation for pre-tribunal legal costs and costs associated with the tribunal proceedings. The Tribunal reviewed the indemnification provisions in the declaration and rules, determining that the costs were reasonable and necessary to enforce compliance. The tribunal ordered S. D. to pay $2,830 for pre-tribunal legal fees and $2,975 for tribunal-related costs.

In the end, the Tribunal ordered S. D. to stop creating excessive noise and to reimburse MTCC 1240 for the legal costs that were incurred as a result of her non-compliance, emphasizing the importance of adherence to condominium rules for the benefit of all residents.

N.A. v. York Condominium Corporation No. 473, 2020 ONSC 194

This case involved a legal dispute in relation to the tenant, N. A., smoking within a unit and the condo corporation’s enforcement of its no-smoking policy. The Court found that the corporation had acted unreasonably and highlighted the importance of fair and consistent rule enforcement.

This case caused significant confusion in Ontario’s condominium sector, particularly around the issue of charging back enforcement costs to unit owners. The Superior Court held that a condominium could not charge back its legal costs for enforcement against a smoking unit owner due to a “limited indemnity” clause in its Declaration, which only covered physical damages to common elements or other units.

However, the ruling was misinterpreted by the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) and the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), resulting in them incorrectly interpreting the case to imply that chargebacks for legal costs should typically always require a Court Order. This interpretation prompted many condominium corporations to initiate more Compliance Applications in Superior Court to avoid issues. However, subsequent case law tells us that a Court Order is NOT always necessary to issue chargebacks.

This case deals with the issues of compliance within condominium regulations. The case often serves as a significant precedent in matters involving condominium corporations seeking enforcement of their rules and regulations against unit owners who violate them.

The case typically involves a scenario where a tenant engages in activities or maintains conditions within their unit that violates the condominium’s governing legislation or other rlues, including the declaration, by-laws, or rules. The condominium corporation, representing the interests of all owners, may then seek an order from a Tribunal or Court to enforce compliance and, in some instances, seek indemnification for legal costs that were sustained as a result of the non-compliance.

Key elements often include detailed documentation of the violations, efforts made by the condominium corporation to address the issue with the unit owner, and the legal grounds for seeking compliance and cost recovery. This case shows us the importance of maintaining a safe and enjoyable living environment for all residents while ensuring that individual owners comply with established community standards.

The Tribunal or Court’s decision in such cases typically includes an order for the unit owner to rectify the violations and may also require the owner to compensate the condominium corporation for the expenses incurred in enforcing compliance. This sets a clear precedent that non-compliance with condominium rules can lead to significant legal and financial consequences for unit owners.

About the Author

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Jordan Donich

Jordan Donich has been a Lawyer for over 10 years and is a trusted legal analyst by Canadian Media. He is as a leader in Canada’s tech sector for lawyers and developer of Law Newbie. Jordan is a Black Belt with the Japan Karate Association and trained in Krav Maga. He won a Gold Medal at 2004 Canadian National Championships and was published in the National Newspaper Awards.

Jordan has been featured in Forbes and is a member of DMZ Angels in Toronto.