Sections 132 and 134(2) of our Condominium Act make it mandatory for condo corporations and unit owners to mediate many types of disputes before proceeding to arbitration or commencing litigation. Among the disputes that must be mediated are disagreements over the declaration, by-laws or rules.
Despite the fact that mediation is mandatory in declaration, by-law and rule cases, this step is often by-passed where the parties don't agree on the selection of the mediator, as per section 132(1)(b) of the Condo Act. This is a shame since the case will then proceed directly to arbitration and, in some instances, to court. The cost, complexity and level of animosity between the parties all increase sharply as the dispute progresses through the various stages. Early resolution is almost always preferable.
In cases where mediation actually does take place, the likelihood of the dispute being resolved successfully depends heavily on a number of factors such as the skill of the mediator and counsel, the preparation and goodwill of the parties and, quite importantly, the ability of the parties to really listen to each other. Without proper preparation and anticipation of the likely concerns of the opposing party, mediation is often doomed to fail.
In a recent posting on the California HOA & Law Blog, attorney Beth Grimm shares her views on why mediation is the perfect way to solve condo disputes, why mediation often fails and what can be done to improve the odds of succeeding. Her comments are worth reading since they are perfectly applicable to condo disputes north of the 49th parallel.
Because mediation is mandatory for many condo disputes here in Ontario and since mediation represents an excellent opportunity to resolve disputes and heal divisions quickly and economically, board members, property managers and unit owners must equip themselves with the knowledge and tools to come to the mediation table to solve disputes.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more tips and insight into making the most of mediation.