The lien regime to collect arrears against a defaulting unit owner is straightforward and codified in the Condo Act and common law – there’s a default in common expense payment, a lien arises automatically, a certificate of lien is registered against title to the defaulting unit and then enforcement may take place in the same manner as a mortgage.  That culminates in selling the unit via notice of sale if collection is otherwise unsuccessful.  This process works because there are avenues to collect and enforce even if the owner flat out ignores the condo’s efforts.  So long as the proper notices are given, the condo can proceed absent an owner.

But what can condos do when other condos are in arrears of shared costs and ignore communication and collection?

Continue Reading Collecting unpaid shared condo costs

A recent CAT decision considered whether a condo’s claim for indemnification for legal costs in issuing a compliance letter was reasonable and whether the owner was required pay it.

The condo issued a compliance letter to the owner citing multiple incidents of noise, nuisance and harassment and demanded the owner reimburse the condo for the cost of the letter. The owner requested the security incident reports that allegedly supported the compliance letter but paid the condo’s requested costs after receiving a second notice of intent to lien. The owner challenged the chargeback and argued that the action taken by the condo in sending the letter without any warning was unreasonable and so were the costs.

Continue Reading Compliance costs must be reasonable – prove it or lose it

Being a condominium director is often a thankless job: most condominium directors in Ontario serve on an unpaid volunteer basis to deal with big-ticket items such the corporation’s finances, maintenance and repair and rule enforcement all while inevitably making themselves a target for unhappy owners. Generally speaking, the Condo Act and a condominium’s by-laws requirements to run for the board are fairly easy to meet. The beauty of this is that condominium boards are typically made up of different backgrounds, experiences and expertise. There is a place for all types of owners on a condominium board but by the same token, it raises questions as to whether directors are qualified to serve on the board: are they the right person for the job or did they simply win a popularity contest?

To address this issue and instill a basic level of condominium knowledge for all condo directors, the Condominium Authority of Ontario provides a basic Foundational Director Training program (the “FDT”). The program provides a high-level overview on crucial topics like condominium governance, financial management and maintenance/repair. The program is offered for free and can be done online. This program is mandatory for all condo directors: per the Condo Act, directors who do not complete this mandatory training within six months of their election/appointment to the board are automatically disqualified from their position.

In 2022, the CAO launched its Advanced Director Training (the “ADT”). The ADT comprises six modules on Condominium Governance, Emergency Planning & Preparedness, Finance, Issues Management, Overseeing Condominium Managers and Procurement. These modules explore issues not fully addressed in the FDT such as managing difficult conflicts within the board, effective oversight of condominium managers and how to manage the bidding/tendering process for major construction contracts. To help directors navigate the ADT, the CAO offered an informative live webinar (which is available at https://www.condoauthorityontario.ca/news-media/advanced-director-training-webinar/) and if that wasn’t enough, the CAO provides comprehensive Best Practice guides on each module (https://www.condoauthorityontario.ca/director-training/director-training-overview/advanced-optional-director-training/).

As someone who regularly deals with condominium matters, I am thoroughly impressed with the CAO’s training programs. Of course, there’s always room for improvement. For starters, most directors I have spoken to are unaware of the ADT though I appreciate that the program is still in its infancy. Secondly, there are important topics (namely proactive issue spotting and enforcement) that should be incorporated into the mandatory FDT with the rest of the ADT serving as a supplement to the FDT.

We will have to wait to see how effective the ADT is but the potential is certainly there. As a parting remark, Tony’s Takeaway is that all directors who haven’t completed their FDT yet do so immediately; and for those who have completed the FDT, consider the ADT and the wonderful resources the CAO provides.

In the 2022 Condo Conference Issue of our newsletter, we hash out our office debate on whether Stan, the Akita, should stay or go and recap some best practices in leasing common elements.  Thanks to the CAT for this issue’s content!

We are proud to sponsor and present at this year’s Condo Conference, taking place Friday, September 30 and Saturday, October 1, 2022.  If you haven’t registered, there’s still time!  It’s always an excellent event!

Common expenses are the life blood of condo corporations and section 85 of the Condo Act allows condos to register a lien to collect unit owners’ share. This section is vital to the functioning of condominiums in Ontario, but it also gives condo corporations enormous leverage to protect innocent unit owners from having to pay a disproportionate share of costs resulting from the unreasonable conduct of any single unit owner.

The court in CCC 56 v. Chreim recently considered the significant powers authorized by section 85 of the Condo Act and the responsibilities that come with those powers.

Continue Reading Condominium liens – With great power comes great…accountability

In November 2017, the Condominium Authority Tribunal (“CAT”) was born as Ontario’s first fully online tribunal.  “How would we manage this weird new thing?” we thought.

What started as a records dispute venue has now evolved into a place for pets, vehicles and storage and, most recently, unreasonable nuisances, annoyances or disruptions.

With the growth of the subject matter, we also see a slow but promising trend in cost recovery.  For a few years no costs were ordered for defending or bringing applications except in very, VERY rare circumstances.

The CAT can award costs up to $25,000.

Continue Reading CAT – a study of growth in a consent order (and costs against an owner)

The current records request procedure under section 55 of the Condo Act has been around for almost four years now. Still, there remains confusion as to how records requests should be processed. One question we often get is whether the board can charge owners a photocopying/labour fee for records and, if so, how much can they charge?

“It depends” is the classic non-answer to this question.

Continue Reading Condo records: To fee or not to fee? That is the question.

Please see CCI Toronto’s Legislative Newsflash re Airbnb Class Action Settlement.

If your condo has suffered misuse of your common elements because of Airbnb operations conducted at your property contrary to the rules and without consent of the board of directors, you might qualify to participate in this Airbnb settlement.  Keep in mind that only $500,000 is available for all eligible and participating condos across Canada.

Follow the links provided by CCI Toronto for more information on submitting a claims form.  The deadline is  August 8, 2022.

In a recent decision, the court examined what happens when a condo corporation fails to address a unit owners’ complaints of noise and vibration coming from the common elements.

The owner purchased her unit in 2010. It is the only residential unit on the ground floor next to a garbage room which housed a compactor. The building’s garbage chutes terminated into the garbage room. This created loud and intermittent crashing and tremors in the owner’s unit caused by heavy objects being thrown down the chute and loud noise and vibrations when the compactor motor was operating. The owner reported the issues to the condo in 2011 and by 2012, management conducted an inspection and found the noise to be “unbearable”. Few steps were taken by the condo to address the issues thereafter.

In 2018, new management took over and renewed interest in the owner’s complaints. The condo’s piecemeal efforts culminated in an inspection by the condo’s contractor in 2020 and a proposal for absorption and noise blocking material to be installed around the unit. Although the condo accepted its contractor’s proposal, the work wasn’t carried out and the owner brought an application for an oppression remedy under section 135 of the Condo Act. The condo then refused to carry out its contractor’s proposal when the owner started the court application.

Continue Reading Don’t drag your feet: Maintenance, repair and oppression