The Ontario Condo Law Blog

The Ontario Condo Law Blog

Serving Ontario's condominium communities since 2008

Powers of attorney essential for condo unit owners

Posted in Financial Issues, Living Together, News and Events
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To encourage people to carefully consider and protect their families, assets and affairs, the Ontario Bar Association has made April its “Make a Power of Attorney Month.”

A power of attorney (“POA”) is a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on a person’s behalf. These documents can be used to oversee personal care or to handle assets and property, and can be customized to suit the precise requirements of each person.  Continue Reading

Top 10 condo law cases of 2013

Posted in Case Studies

Owing to a very busy and ice-storm-filled holiday season and an even busier start to 2014 , we have been late in releasing our annual top 10 condo law cases of the year gone by.   Mea culpa!

In response to popular demand, here are our picks, presented in no particular order.  Almost all of them have at least one lesson that can and should be picked up by the ongoing Condo Act Review being undertaken by the Ontario Government.   A new condo act that deals with some of the persistent problems we see in our daily practice and in some of the cases cited below would be welcomed.

10.       Owners of Strata Plan LMS 2768 v. Jordison, 2013 BCCA 484

This is British Columbia’s first court-ordered sale of an owner’s unit for bad behaviour.  While this concept is hardly new in Ontario, the reasons of the BC Court of Appeal are noteworthy for the eloquent and compelling argument shattering the old adage that “a man’s home is his castle” if he lives in a condominium.   Let the word go forth that condos are no longer castles.

9.         PCC 98 v. Pereira, 2013 ONSC 7340

Although our courts have repeatedly ruled that forced sale of units is a remedy of last resort, too many condos still make the attempt too early.  In this compliance application, the court was satisfied that the unit owner’s bad behaviours breached the “dangerous activities” provision in s. 117 of the Condo Act.  But after noting that the owner ultimately complied with many of the complaints and since the behaviour fell short of that in comparable cases, the court found that the extraordinary remedy of a forced sale was not yet warranted, and gave a simple order for compliance with the rules and a warning that more severe remedies might be given for future bad behaviour.  Condo recovered the bulk of its legal costs of over $37K.

8.         GSCC 50 v. GSCC 46, 2013 ONSC 122

In this shared facilities dispute over allocation of utilities costs, one of the two feuding condos skipped mediation and arbitration and started a lawsuit to recover its overpayment of the utilities costs, arguing that the non-paying condo was unjustly enriched.  The court stayed that lawsuit pending completion of mediation and arbitration which is mandatory as per s.132 of the Condo Act and cannot be bypassed even if both sides agreed, per s. 176.  Court also pointed out that an arbitrator has the necessary power under s. 31 of the Arbitration Act, 1991 to decide a case like this and to grant the remedies that the plaintiff condo was requesting in its lawsuit.   Moral:  Don’t skip mediation and arbitration to start your shared facilities litigation. Continue Reading

Join CCI’s Twitter chat on condo disputes this Tuesday

Posted in News and Events

The Toronto chapter of Canadian Condominium Institute is hosting the first of hopefully many “Twitter Chats” this coming Tuesday, March 11 at 7pm. The topic of this inaugural session is condo dispute resolution, a topic near and dear to many of us.

Whether new to Twitter or seasoned tweeters, condo managers, directors and unit owners should join the chat to hear from condo experts, ask questions and share their experiences and views.  This is also a great way to join up with your friends and colleagues who are tweeting.  

Details on how to participate are available on CCI-Toronto’s website, here and download the pdf flyer. The easiest way is to follow me, @chrisjaglowitz.  During the hour-long session, be sure to follow hashtag #condochat and use that tag in your tweets.

See you there.

GMA Condo Alert! (2013 Conference edition)

Posted in Publications & Resources

Anyone attending the phenomenal ACMO/CCI condo conference in Toronto last November received a hardcopy of our newsletter in their delegate bag.   If you missed the conference or wish to circulate the newsletter to friends, here is a softcopy (in pdf).

Topics include:

  • Being newly elected to your condo board
  • Human rights preventative measures

Stay tuned for the next edition, soon to be released, and for spring to arrive!

Fallen trees – Don’t be a sap

Posted in Living Together, Maintenance & Repairs, The Environment

The massive ice storm that recently devastated the Toronto area felled whole trees and large branches.  This damage to the urban canopy knocked out electrical service to hundreds of thousands of people and caused untold property damage.

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With the post-storm clean-up now underway and expected to last several weeks, condominium managers may need guidance dealing with trees that fell from neighbouring properties onto condominium common elements.

Ownership of a tree is usually clear-cut – trees belong to whoever owns the land on which the tree is situated. If, however, a tree’s trunk is growing on the boundary between adjoining lands, section 10(2) of the Forestry Act provides that the tree is the common property of both owners.   But what is a trunk?  Luckily, the Ontario Court of Appeal released a decision just a week before the ice storm clarifying that, for the purpose of the Forestry Act, the “trunk” is “that part of the tree from its point of growth away from its roots up to where it branches out to limbs and foliage.”

Continue Reading

Court and tribunal round-up to December 4, 2013

Posted in Case Studies

While mediation and arbitration have been mandatory for most types of condo disputes for over 12 years, it seems that there are still plenty of condo cases finding their way into the courts.  According to the scuttlebutt, the judges are starting to notice this, and they apparently aren’t too happy with the volume of people, pets and parking cases clogging up their dockets.

Though I was at first skeptical that the number of condo cases is increasing to epic proportions, tallying up the reported decisions released since our last batch on August 27 is telling.  While the cases we’ve tweeted in the past three months include cases from tribunals and courts of other provinces, the Ontario court cases shown below are probably just the tip of the iceberg when you consider that most court decisions are not sufficiently substantive or interesting to be reported.  In other words, there are probably a lot more condo cases out there that we haven’t heard about.   No statistics are kept and there’s no simple way of keeping track of them, but it’s probably safe to say that there are a lot and that their number is growing.

Here’s the latest bunch, and a big one at that!   As always, follow me on Twitter to stay ahead of the curve with live feed.

Continue Reading

Lincoln on lawyers

Posted in Living Together, News and Events

Today is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysberg Address, one of the most famous speeches in history.  It was given by Abraham Lincoln, one of the most extraordinary people to ever walk the earth.

Before becoming President of the United States, Lincoln was a lawyer.   From his notes, we see that his thoughts on law practice were simple but profound, much like his views on political matters like the abolition of slavery.   Here is a good example:

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser—in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.

The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler, vol. 2., “Notes for a Law Lecture” (July 1, 1850).

This passage is striking not only for its timeless quality and crystalline clarity, but that it raises the often-forgotten truth that lawyers are not simply their clients’ mouthpiece. By their training and experience, lawyers are uniquely positioned to recognize and impress upon others the futility of conflict.  According to Lincoln, lawyers have an obligation to use those skills (as a peacemaker) to benefit their neighbours and, of course, their clients.

Now, more than ever, lawyers need to think more like Lincoln.  

 

At 5 years: Our changing skyline

Posted in Articles

This month, we celebrate our fifth anniversary of launching this blog.

Since 2008, we have witnessed and written about the good, the bad and the ugly in Ontario condominiums, including:

  • continued explosive growth in new condo construction;
  • new usages of the condominium concept (hotels, resorts, parking facilities);
  • exponential growth of investor ownership and foreign investor ownership;
  • dwindling engagement and participation by unit owners in their condo’s affairs;
  • unit owners and occupants becoming increasingly sophisticated but (for some) unduly self-entitled;
  • greater numbers of condo occupants suffering serious mental health issues;
  • courts and tribunals grappling with the influx of people, pets and parking cases;
  • rising backlash against directors who abuse their powers and position;
  • more frauds against condo corporations, including one of epic proportion;
  • growing complexity of the legal and regulatory landscape facing owners, directors and managers;
  • success stories of condos stepping back from the brink and tales of others that plunge right off;
  • increasing condo manager professionalism and the prospect of licensing and self-regulation;
  • condo mediation achieving critical mass and acceptance at long last;
  • governments reviewing and revising their condo laws

…to name just a few.

Continue Reading

Have your say on Condo Act Solutions Report

Posted in Condominium Act, 1998

In late September, stage 2 of Ontario’s Condominium Act Review came to a close with the issuance of a Solutions Report.

This report is the product of condo residents, stakeholders and experts closely considering the various concepts and problems identified in stage 1 of the review process and devising specific and often creative solutions to address them. Working groups were struck to cover each of the five main topics identified early in the review process (being consumer protection, governance, financial management, dispute resolution and condo manager qualifications) and they worked over the summer to formulate solutions that were then vetted by an expert panel.

Of the more than 100 recommendations presented in the Solutions Report, most are much-needed clarification or tweaking of the current statute, but some are much more profound, including:

Continue Reading

GMA Condo Alert! (Autumn 2013 edition)

Posted in Publications & Resources

Here is our quarterly newsletter for Autumn 2013, which includes our provocative piece on licensed marijuana grow-ops in condominiums and news of an addition to the partnership here at Gardiner Miller Arnold.

Our next edition will be rolled out at the annual CCI/ACMO Condominium Conference in November.  Be there or be square, and stay tuned to this space for an electronic copy of the newsletter following the conference.