Condo Disputes Can Now Be Resolved Online

November 15th, 2017

Condo disputes can now be resolved online | Toronto Star

Ontario’s new condo tribunal is accessible but will only mediate and adjudicate one kind of dispute to begin.

Condo disputes can now be resolved online | Toronto Star

Ontario’s 1.6 million condo residents have a new avenue for settling disputes in their buildings and neighbourhoods. Last week, the province launched its first online tribunal to help resolve the complaints that arise in 10,000 condo corporations.

The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) provides direct access to mediators and adjudicators in a stepped process that begins with a $25 fee, although to start, it is only looking at issues related to accessing condo records.

In its first week only two disputes had been registered with the tribunal.

Read More: The Star looks at the present and future of Toronto housing

It is the first online-only tribunal in the province but it’s a model that other agencies might consider in the future, said Tom Wright, chair of the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO), which oversees the new system.

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The CAO will also be administering a new training program to condo directors.

Only 2,700 of the nearly 10,000 condominium corporations have registered with the CAO to date. But all condo corporations in the province will be required to register by Dec. 31.

The Toronto Star spoke to Wright about how the tribunal and training will work. The following is an edited version of that conversation.

Condo disputes can now be resolved online | Toronto Star

Q. Why does Ontario need this kind of tribunal?

A. There was a need for an easier, more cost-effective way to resolve disputes that arose in a condo corporations and communities.

One of the features that will make it more accessible is that it’s exclusively online. You’re not bound by office hours or required to show up at a hearing.

It is more cost effective in terms of resolving disputes as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Q. How were condo disputes handled in the past?

A. Typically these disputes would require someone taking the matter to the courts, often a costly and lengthy avenue. Sometimes a mediator would be brought in, but that would require the agreement of all parties and, again, it could be costly. The fact that a condo corporation would have to pay means the owners are footing the bill.

Q. What kind of issues will the tribunal handle?

A. To begin, the tribunal will only deal with condo record complaints. That will likely be expanded to other kinds of disputes in the future but we don’t know what kind yet.

Q. How does it work?

A. It’s a three-phase process. The first stage is negotiation. It costs $25 and gives users access to the system, allowing them to try and resolve the dispute themselves. If you are unable to do that, you move onto Stage 2: mediation. That costs $50. A tribunal mediator then becomes involved in trying to resolve the matter. If that still doesn’t work, you move on to Stage 3: adjudication for a $125 fee. At that point, a tribunal member, who is a different individual than the mediator, decides how the dispute will be resolved.

There is information on the website that gives people “guided pathways” for resolving problems before they become significant.

We recommend that condo owners try and resolve common issues on their own. In the case of noise complaints, for example, the CAO recommends occupants note the date and time of the noise to help identify the source and contact their condo board directly; then follow-up in writing. The CAO provides templates for letters and emails.

Q. If someone takes a dispute to Stage 2, which is mediation, is the other party compelled to come to the table?

A. No. But the dispute can still move through the process. Notice is given all along the way to the other party. If they choose not to attend, the matter can still proceed to a decision. It’s a bit like a court where someone issues a claim and the other side doesn’t show up. The court can still make a decision. The same thing applies here. Otherwise it wouldn’t work. People would just assume that if they didn’t show up or didn’t participate, they wouldn’t be subject to a tribunal decision.

Q. The tribunal is only resolving records disputes to begin with. What does this mean?

A. This ties into what are being called core records. Those include the standard declarations, bylaws, budgets, amendments, financial statements, meeting minutes and reserve fund studies. If a condo owner wants access to those records and it is not provided, they can move to the tribunal process.

Q. How long before you move past this pilot phase to resolving other kinds of disputes?

A. That’s up to the government. I can’t give you a date, but the intention is clear this will be an ongoing process. This is so new we’re going to be learning a lot of things. Once we have tackled this area it opens up a lot of possibilities.

Q. What kind of disputes would never come to the tribunal?

A. Anything to do with a breach of the Condo Act would be beyond the tribunal’s jurisdiction. Things like directors failing to disclose an interest in a contract would be beyond the condo authority’s mandate.

Q. Do mediators and adjudicators do the same job and what are their qualifications?

A. We have recruited and trained 15 people who are known as tribunal members. They have a range of experience in mediation, adjudication, condo law and some who have lived in condos. These are experienced people who know how tribunals work, but also have an interest in following a new path in terms of the online nature of this tribunal.

It’s important to know that members, who have mediated disputes at the Stage 2 part of the system, would not be adjudicating the same dispute at Stage 3. You have a fresh person looking at it.

Q. The CAO is also in charge of a new training program for condo board directors. How will that work?

A. Any director who is elected to a condo board after Nov. 1 will be obligated to take the free, online training within six months of their election. The training, which focuses on the obligations of directors and background on the Condo Act, can be done in under five hours during the six-month period.

Q. Volunteering on a condo board is already time consuming, who will want the job with this additional required demand?

A. There will be people who genuinely want to do this. It’s a question that has come up, but at the end of the day, the feedback we’ve had from more than 300 people who actually did the training was that it is helpful and positive.

Noise Issues?

October 25th, 2017

Noise complaints are one of the most common condo issues. In many instances, living in a condominium will mean living close to your neighbours, and sounds from one unit can travel into another unit or into the common elements.

Unwanted noise is usually caused by either:

  • someone else’s behaviour; or
  • the design and construction of the building, such as a lack of sound proofing, or noisy features like elevators or garbage chutes.

Examples of common noise issues include:

  • Neighbours playing loud music or having a party.
  • Noises created by pets, such as a barking dog.
  • Noises created by children running or screaming.
  • Loud noises coming from adjacent common elements.

If you suspect that your noise issue may be caused by another resident’s pet, you may be dealing with a common pets issue.

If you are having an issue with unwanted noise, you should begin tracking the dates and times that the sound is occurring. This may help identify the source or cause of the noise.

The Condominium Authority of Ontario discusses Noise issues on their website.


Condominium Authority of Ontario’s new fee structure

August 2nd, 2017

Notice of Fees | Condominium Authority of Ontario

The Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) conducted a public fee consultation from July 4th, 2017 to July 18th, 2017, to collect feedback from the public on proposed fees for the CAO’s services. The CAO appreciates all the feedback received and is pleased to note that most participants responded positively to the proposed fee amounts. The CAO has carefully considered the feedback, and has confirmed its fee amounts, which are set out below.

CAO Assessments

*This fee will be charged per vote for common elements condominium corporations.

Condominium corporations will receive a package from the CAO in late August which will provide details on how corporations can register and pay their assessments. Initial assessments will cover the period from September 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, and will be due to the CAO by December 31, 2017.

CAT Fees

The CAO will also be responsible for overseeing and managing the operations of the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), a new dispute resolution forum which will provide condo owners and corporations with fast, fair, and cost-effective dispute resolution services. The CAT will have exclusive jurisdiction to resolve certain dispute types prescribed in regulations to the Condominium Act, 1998.

There will be a $25 fee to access the negotiation stage of the CAT’s online dispute resolution services, where parties will be guided through a process of negotiation between themselves. If the issue is not resolved through negotiation, there will be additional fees related to the next two stages, which will involve mediators and adjudicators.

If a dispute proceeds through all dispute resolution stages, the total cost will be $200. All CAT fees are non-refundable.

These fees will become effective on November 1, 2017, when the CAT begins accepting applications. These fees will be paid by the individual who filed the dispute.

Defamation in Condos

August 2nd, 2017

Defamation: Condos must protect the reputation of its directors

Everyone knows that being on a condo board can be a difficult and thankless job, often attracting criticism from other owners. But what is a corporation to do if owners send defamatory emails? An Ottawa judge has drawn a red line.

Facts of the case

In this case, a condo owner sent vitriolic and defamatory communications to all owners and residents of the corporation, harshly criticising the board of directors. What is interesting about this case is that this owner did so while hiding behind an anonymous “yahoo” email address. To further camouflage his identity, this owner adopted the alias of Ian Fleming – the famous author of the James Bond series.  The result of this is that no one knew who was Ian Fleming or what was his relation to the corporation.

In his communications, he accused the board (and specific directors) of receiving “kickbacks” and of “giving free reign” to contractors at the expense of the owners. He also accused them of lacking transparency and of turning a blind eye to alleged incidents of employee harassment. None of these allegations were true and none were supported by any evidence.

When asked to identify himself, Ian Fleming refused to do so and continued to hide behind the anonymous email address.

The board brought a court application seeking an order compelling Yahoo! to turn over information which could allow them to identify Ian Fleming.

The Decision

The Judge recognized that these kinds of orders are intrusive and extraordinary remedies, to be exercised with caution. Indeed, what the corporation was seeking was the disclosure by a third party (Yahoo!) of information which may otherwise be expected to be confidential (Ian Fleming’s identity). In its decision, the court was required to balance the interest and obligations of the corporation, of Yahoo! and of Ian Fleming.

Yahoo! took no position in this matter.

The words were defamatory

As a starting point, the judge agreed that Ian Fleming’s words were capable of being defamatory.  This was therefore not a case of an oversensitive board taking umbrage to  reasoned and balanced criticism from owners. This was an owner who sent a mass-email to owners and occupants, raising all sorts of defamatory statements – all along while hiding his identity.  A defamatory statement is one which has a tendency to injure the reputation of the person to whom it refers. One which causes the person to be regarded with hatred, ridicule, contempt or dislike. The words used by Ian Fleming were capable of having such effect on board members according to the judge.

Expectation of privacy?

Her Honour also balanced Ian Fleming’s expectation of privacy (as the originator of the defamatory email) with the interest of justice in disclosing his identity. She agreed with the corporation that the email originator could not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to the use of the internet for the purpose of publishing defamatory statements to a wide group of recipients. She concluded that the interests of justice strongly favoured the corporation.

Defamation: Condos must protect the reputation of its directors | Condo Adviser

Condos must protect the reputation of its directors

More importantly, in the context of condominium governance, her Honour concluded that the corporation had a statutory duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the Condo Act and with the corporation’s governing documents. In this case, the Corporation relied on section 117 of the Condo Act, which prohibits owners from carrying on an activity which is likely to cause injury to an individual.

Her Honour concluded that this court application was exactly that, a step reasonably taken by the corporation to ensure that its board members and employees are not subjected to defamatory statements.

Only time will tell if Ian Fleming will be unmasked, but Agent 007 is zeroing in on him…

Defamation: Condos must protect the reputation of its directors

Condominium Authority Seeks Comments on Proposed Fees

July 11th, 2017

Condo Reporter – Posted: 10 Jul 2017 10:44 AM PDT

As we reported in a previous blog, one of the major changes in the Protecting Condominium Owners Act, 2015 is the creation of the Condominium Authority.  The responsibilities of the Condominium Authority include:

  • dispute resolution services
  • condominium director training/education
  • creation of a guide for condominium buyers
  • education of condominium owners
  • maintenance of a condominium registry.

While the Government of Ontario will provide the initial funding of the Condominium Authority, it is intended that the Condominium Authority’s activities will be funded on an ongoing basis by user fees and assessments on condominium corporation.

The Condominium Authority is seeking public comments from condominium owners, residents, managers, directors and other condominium-industry players on the amount of the fees and assessments that the Condominium Authority is proposing. Comments can be made by responding to an on-line survey.

The following fees are being proposed:

$1.00 per month per voting unit assessed against condominium corporations – this fee is intended to cover the cost of delivering the above-described services and will be ultimately charged to condominium owners.

Filing fee of $25.00 to access the Condominium Authority’s online dispute resolution services. If the despite is not resolved through negotiation of the parties, then there will be an additional fee of $50.00 for a mediator and a $125.00 tribunal decision fee. All of theses fees would be non-refundable.

The comment period will close on July 18, 2017.  Please click here to access the on-line survey.

CCI Celebrates 35 Years!

June 13th, 2017

CCI celebrates 35th anniversary and new chapter

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI), a national, independent non-profit organization that deals exclusively with condominium issues, is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

Established in 1982 with five chapters, CCI’s objectives include to create and curate content, educate, advocate and facilitate community. CCI assists its members using education, information dissemination, publications, workshops, conferences and technical assistance. It also encourages and provides objective research for practitioners and government agencies regarding all aspects of condominium operations, lobbies provincial and federal governments for improvements to legislation, and advocates for higher standards in all services to the condominium client.

CCI will be celebrating its 35th anniversary all year. Some of the features of the anniversary and associated events it has planned include the Great Canadian Condo contest, an online contest that will be launching soon; two Leaders Forums for CCI chapter leaders in Fredericton and Thunder Bay; a new logo celebrating its 35th anniversary; a social media campaign featuring the 150 greatest condo moments, which will be launched on June 1; and an Anniversary Awards Dinner, which will be held in Thunder Bay in October 2017.

The latest CCI chapter, Grand River, will be the Institute’s 17th chapter. The region that is currently serviced by the Golden Horseshoe chapter has seen rapidly growing membership. As a result, effective July 1, 2017, that region will be serviced by two chapters: the new Grand River chapter, which has 435 members, and the existing Golden Horseshoe chapter.

Sharing Email Addresses of Owners

June 21st, 2016

Are Condo owners Entitled to Access the Email Address List of Other Owners?

Condo corporations are increasingly asked to disclose to condo owners the email addresses of the other owners.  Indeed, a condo owner wishing to requisition a meeting of the owners or wishing to otherwise communicate with other owners finds email communications to be far more practical than having to mail a paper letter.  After all, since the corporation is often communicating with its owners by email, why should all owners not have access to this same list?

In a recent Ottawa case, a judge ruled that condo owners are not entitled to access the email address list of other owners.

Pursuant to section 55 of the Condo Act, owners have a right to examine and obtain copies of the records of the condominium corporation. Many courts have indicated that, on this front, the purpose of the Condo Act is to provide owners with an open book into the affairs of the corporation.  However, this right to access corporation records must be balanced with the owners’ expectation of privacy. Indeed, section 55(4) specifically provides that owners are not entitled to access records relating to someone else’s unit.

So, how is an owner to exercise his or her right to requisition a meeting of the owner if he or she is unable to communicate with them? One of the first things the requisitioning owners request from the condominium corporation is a list of name and address of the other owners. The question then becomes: should the corporation also provide the email addresses?

Deputy Judge Whitehall ruled that the corporation’s obligation to disclose the owners’ address of service does not apply to email but only apply to the postal address.  He also agreed with prior decisions that releasing email addresses raised privacy concerns.

We agree. In fact, we even question whether providing a matching of the names and owner addresses also raises such privacy concerns.  While some of this information may otherwise be publicly available, we question whether it is wise for a condo corporation to disclose this information to others, especially considering the exception under section 55 of the Condo Act and the increasing privacy expectation in today’s society. It may be sufficient to simply provide the requisitionists with the postal addresses for service, without providing the names.

These dilemmas always require a delicate balancing act. It is best to involve your corporation’s lawyer early to avoid headaches.

Enforcing Payment of Shared Facilities Costs

October 27th, 2015

22 Oct 2015- Condo Reporter

Many condominium corporations share facilities with other condominium corporations or other properties. Usually there is an agreement in place which obligates all parties that use or benefit from the shared facilities to contribute to the costs of operating and maintaining them in accordance with the proportions set out in the agreement.

In a recent case, Middlesex Condominium Corporation No. 229 v. WMJO Ltd., MCC 229 had to commence legal proceedings to collect a portion of the costs of operating and maintaining a private sewage pumping system that also serviced three other condominium corporations and a housing cooperative.

The private sewage system was located on the lands of MCC 229, which was a 43-unit townhouse condominium. The sewage system also serviced a total of 42 townhouse units in three other condominiums and 71 units in a housing cooperative. All of the units of the three other condominiums were owned by WMJO Ltd., the developer of those three condominiums. The developer of MCC 229 and a prior owner of the other three condominium properties had entered into a joint use and maintenance agreement, which included a provision that the each phase of the townhouse project would “be responsible for a proportionate share of the costs and expenses of maintenance, repairs and/or replacement of the joint facilities”. This agreement was registered on title.

For more than ten years, WMJO, through its property managers, paid invoices from MCC 229 relating to the sewage system, although late payments had been an ongoing issue throughout this time. All payments stopped after 2006. The principal of WMJO took the position that it had never agreed to pay any expenses related to the sewage system and that any payments made in the past were paid in error by its property managers.

MCC 229 sued the three condominium corporations, WMJO and WMJO’s current property manager. The court declared that the property manager had no liability to MCC 229 as the manager was acting in its capacity as manager for WMJO. The case against the three condominium corporations was dismissed as they were not signatories to the joint use agreement. Although the joint use agreement was registered on title, positive covenants do not run with the land and therefore the obligation to contribute to the shared costs of the sewage system could not be enforced against any subsequent landowners.

WMJO was also not a party to the agreement that was registered on title. However, the court concluded that WMJO was responsible to pay for its share of the costs on the basis of unjust enrichment. MCC 229 had successfully established the three elements necessary for recovery on the basis of unjust enrichment:

  • WMJO was enriched, as it saved considerable expense by connecting into MCC 229’s sewage system rather than having to construct one to service the units it owned.
  • MCC 229 suffered a corresponding deprivation as it was operating and maintaining a sewage system that was considerably larger than required for its 43 units.
  • There was no juristic reason to permit the enrichment, such as, for example, an intention to make a gift or where a statute denies recovery.

The court rejected WMJO’s position that MCC 229 was seeking to enforce an unenforceable positive covenant by pursuing a remedy for unjust enrichment. Because the positive covenants in the joint use agreement were not enforceable, if it were not for the remedy of unjust enrichment, it would be unfair for WMJO to get the benefits from the sewage system without having to incur any expenses for it.

Most shared facilities agreements are entered into by the developer early on in the development of the project and before all of the condominium corporations in the project have been created. In order to ensure that the condominium corporations will be responsible for the positive covenants, most developers will include in the condominium declaration an obligation to assume and become a party to any cost sharing agreements. In addition, before control of the condominium corporation is turned over to the unit owners, the developer-controlled condominium corporation will enter into the necessary assumption agreements.


For Article, in its original format, click here.

Dog Restrictions and Disabilities

June 24th, 2015

Michelle Kelly of Kelly Sutherland LLP writes a Ontario Law Blog (  Below is an article published on her website on June 24, 2015.

I am regularly asked by clients to assist them with enforcement of dog restrictions (i.e. weight limits) or complete prohibitions in a condominium’s documents. Sometimes an owner will claim that he or she needs the dog because of a disability. The mere mention of the word (disability) immediately increases the anxiety felt by the board and manager. It seems many owners are aware of this anxiety-inducing affect and use the word without regard for its actual legal meaning. There was a recent case where an owner did just that, but the condominium refused to back down without adequate evidence of her disability.

Here are the facts. A woman moved into her spouse’s unit with a dog that weighed over 25 lbs. Both the woman and her spouse were aware of the 25 lb. weight restriction. Neither of them sought permission or accommodation from the condominium until they failed in their effort to keep the dog as a therapy dog for the woman’s work with autistic children. The condominium rejected their request claiming the dog had to be a service animal for a resident, not the woman’s work. The woman then obtained letters from a doctor (who was not her regular physician) that suggested that she required the therapy dog because of “emotional needs”, “struggles with stress and past abuse”, and as a better alternative to medication. The condominium asked for permission to speak with the doctor and advised the woman that according to the Human Rights Code she had an obligation to establish a disability and that the dog was required to assist with the disability-related needs. The woman refused to provide the condominium with permission to speak with the doctor. As a result, the condominium rejected her request for accommodation on the basis that there was no objective medical evidence that supported a disability, her needs, and how the dog addressed her needs. The couple refused to remove the dog.

The condominium brought an application to the Superior Court of Justice for an order requiring the couple to remove the dog from the property.

The judge found that the couple had initially acknowledged that the dog was over the 25 lbs. weight restriction, but changed their story later when the condominium rejected their request to keep the dog. The judge was satisfied that the dog weighed over 25 lbs.

The judge went on to review the Human Rights Code, and the applicable case law. The judge confirmed that there is an onus on the person seeking accommodation to establish a prima facie case of discrimination, which in this case required the couple to establish that the woman has a disability within the meaning of the Code and that the weight restriction adversely affects her because of her disability. If a prima facie case is established, the focus shifts to whether the condominium has fulfilled its duty to accommodate her to the point of undue hardship.

The judge reviewed the case law on the term “disability”, which includes mental impairment or mental disorder. However, the judge confirmed that a bare assertion of pain or anxiety is not a sufficient basis to allege a mental disability. The judge concluded that “there is no evidence before this court that [the doctor’s] generic labelling of [the woman’s] diagnosis as a ‘medical condition’ falls under the definition of a ‘disability’” within the meaning of the Code. The judge went on to say that even if the couple had established a disability, there was not satisfactory evidence to support her assertion that the dog was related to her disability-related needs. The judge also stated that although not required given his other findings, he would have found that the condominium had fulfilled its duty to accommodate the woman. The condominium asked for a release to allow it to talk to her doctor, but she refused. The woman failed to cooperate in the accommodation process and the condominium could not be blamed for her refusal.

The judge ordered the dog be permanently removed from the property and granted an order allowing the condominium to inspect the unit on 8 hours notice to ensure the dog had been removed. The costs of the matter have not been determined.

This case is a good reminder that condominiums are entitled to request evidence of the disability, the needs, and how the requested accommodation (i.e. dog) fulfills those disability-related needs. The condominium is not obliged to accept a bare assertion from an owner.


Watch for Ticks!

May 22nd, 2015

A Dangerous Tick Season has Commenced

It is expected to last from now until late October in Central Ontario

Warnings have been issued across Canada in multiple jurisdictions.

“It’s wise to talk simple precautions before being outside in grassy, bushy or treed areas, and check yourself and your children and pets for ticks afterwards,”

“If any ticks are found, they should be carefully and promptly removed.” are a few of the warnings.

Lyme  disease which is often a risk attached to tick season, is more common in parts of southern Canada and the U.S. where specific tick populations such as Deer Ticks reside.

Wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts is one of the best preventive measures. Additionally, pull your socks over your pant legs when walking through tall grass. Insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin can be useful in these situations. Make sure to wear light colours so ticks are easily visible. Finally, do a “full body” tick check daily on yourself, your children and pets.

Situational awareness is critical and Huronia/Georgian Bay Region is a highly susceptible area.

Stay Safe

For more information, visit