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The recent Ontario Superior Court case of Hogan v. MTCC 595 demonstrates that some condo boards have not yet read the memo about being responsive to unit owners and exercising common sense. Headshaker cases like this one are worth highlighting as examples of how not to run a condominium.

In November 2013, MTCC 595 notified its unit owners under section 97 of the Condo Act about the board’s plan to make an addition, alteration or improvement to the common elements at an estimated cost of $72,000. As required by subsection 97(3), the notice also advised owners of their right under section 46 to requisition an owners’ meeting to vote on the board’s proposal. Section 46 requires the board to call a meeting on requisition by the owners of at least 15% of the units. 
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The first half of 2014 brought a bumper crop of condo-related court and tribunal cases from across Canada.   The race for the top 10 cases of the year is heating up!

ONSC nixes unit owner’s case vs condo & bd over previously-litigated issues. Good discus’n re liability of directors. http://canlii.ca/t/g23p8 

HRTO: For giving condo a binding release, fired super’s sexual orientation complaint dismissed as abuse of process http://canlii.ca/t/g298x 

ONSC imposes terms on condo unit owner for violent, antisocial outbursts, but not sale of unit. http://canlii.ca/t/g2b2r 

ONSC awards condo costs of $37K in hotly contested compliance application where sale order requested but denied. http://canlii.ca/t/g2w8t 

ONSC: Claim vs landscaper made 3 yrs after slip&fall may proceed, but condo’s x-claim vs landscaper statute-barred. http://ow.ly/rNMvI 

ONSC: Condos who snooze, lose. Expired lien rights cannot be revived. http://ow.ly/rSH9j  
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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.
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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.


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