In Beswick v. YRCC 1175, the court held that a condo should not have made exterior interlock and pavement repairs to townhouse exclusive-use common elements without first providing reasonable notice of the expected cost of such proposed repairs to the townhouse unit owners.

In that case, townhouse unit owners were obligated to maintain and repair the steps and interlock on the exclusive use common elements in front of their units. The condo notified them it would be doing the replacement work at their cost.   The court disallowed the condo’s charge-back claim because it had not fulfilled its duty to provide reasonable notice to the owners before undertaking that maintenance work, since the corporation’s notice did not advise them that they would be responsible for the cost of the work.  As a result, the owners had not received the opportunity to obtain their own quotes or do the work themselves.

Before exerting any charge-back claim the condo should:

  • analyze the specific criteria to ascertain whether the charge-back is authorized by any of sections 57, 92, 98, 105 or 134 of the Condo Act;
  • check that the owner is required by the declaration to maintain and repair the defective portion of the unit or common element, since most charge-backs arise under s. 92 (work done for the unit owner) or s. 105 (an insurance deductible claim);
  • carefully document, photograph and assemble evidence at the outset to support the need for the work and owner’s failure to do it;
  • immediately do the work necessary to stop or lessen damage, loss or potential injury in an emergency where the owner is not responding. Issue a s. 92 notice to the owner requiring them to fix remaining, non-emergency damage;
  • give a specific but reasonable deadline with adequate time for the owner to obtain quotes and for its contractor to complete the work, taking into account that extra time may be required before the Board can provide its prior written consent, when applicable, as required by the declaration or pursuant to a s. 98 agreement. If so, allow time for the Board to approve the scope of work, plans, drawings, specifications and choice of contractor;
  • advise the owner of any declaration criteria applicable to a structural or other unit alteration, work affecting common elements, or as required by a s. 98 agreement. Also advise the owner of any applicable renovation rules;
  • make sure the owner knows that if the work is not done before the deadline, the condo will arrange for the work to be done at the owner’s cost;
  • include a notice of entry in the s. 92 notice for a day or two after the work deadline, to inspect whether the work has been completed;
  • get at least two quotes if the work is not done by the deadline. The contractor should preferably inspect the failed component and confirm in writing that the component needs to be repaired or replaced. The report should include dated photos and applicable materials and the scope, method and cost of repairs;
  • forward the chosen contractor’s quote to the owner, particularly advising the owner of the anticipated costs (as now required by the Beswick case);
  • forward the contractor’s invoice and completion report to the owner, indicating a due date for payment;
  • instruct the condo’s lawyer to register a lien to collect the charge-back if not paid. Standard notice and expiry of lien deadlines continue to apply using the date of default in payment;
  • recognize that the corporation cannot expect the lawyer to guarantee collection of its legal fees from the unit owner because some charge-back scenarios become contentious; however, typically legal fees are in fact recovered from the owner under sections 85, 92 and 105 of the Condo Act;
  • expect that the lawyer will often need to respond to a charge-back dispute by a careful analysis of the facts and all legal requirements. When a charge-back arises under an insurable event of damage, provisions in the declaration, standard unit by-law and the corporation’s insurance deductible by-law provision can give rise to varying results and consequential disputes.



GMA has almost 20 employees who, pre-COVID-19, were typically working in the office at 390 Bay Street, Toronto.   Many of our lawyers and staff were early adapters to remote work, with fully functioning home offices, a majority have been set up for years.   In that sense, we were prepared for the shift to remote work.  However, with reopening of more and more services,  I wanted to share my top links as GMA’s office manager.  These are sites I found myself clicking back to when considering how to best support our people returning to the office.

Continue Reading COVID-19: Learn, assess, modify. It’s a state of change in the office.

Prior to COVID-19, condos could have electronic meetings and electronic voting only if they had a by-law authorizing it.

During COVID-19 the Condo Act is amended to temporarily permit condos to conduct business virtually during a “temporary suspension period” (i.e., between March 17, 2020 and a date at least 120 days from the termination of the emergency period). Right now, condos can call and hold electronic meetings and owners can vote electronically without a by-law.

Anecdotally, we have chaired and participated in several owners’ meetings during the pandemic. Our lawyers have taken additional, high level electronic platform training. We have participated in meetings run by third party service providers and have run and moderated our own owners’ meetings from our own platform.

Our key takeaway? The chair is vital to keeping an electronic owners’ meeting on track.

Continue Reading The new hot seat – the electric (meeting) chair

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services intends to proclaim a “condominium guide” into force effective December 1, 2020 and it’s looking for input!

“The ministry will be providing the CAO with a table of contents for the condo guide that outlines some core tenets of buying and living in a condo. The proposed guide is intended primarily for prospective purchasers of pre-construction condos, but also would contain information relevant to prospective purchasers of resale condos.”

Be heard! The deadline to make comments is August 14, 2020.

The Condo Act and a condominium’s governing documents generally give a condo broad enforcement powers to ensure residents are abiding by the rules. Condos often turn to their lawyers to commence expensive legal proceedings as a reliable response to non-compliant residents. In assessing costs against a condo, a recent Superior Court of Justice decision should serve as a reminder to all condos that they should take reasonable steps to resolve disputes.

Continue Reading Always Act Reasonably – the Amlani Decision and a Lesson from the Court

The City of Toronto recently hired over 300 new fire inspectors, pledging to inspect every high-rise building in the city at least once a year.  The Fire Code adopts a broad definition of “owner”, and, as a result, the city may lay Fire Code charges against unit owners, condo corporations, property managers, management firms and directors for the same infraction.  However, there are a few precautionary steps condos can take to minimize exposure to a pesky Inspection Order or Notice of Violation.

  Continue Reading Flame-shifting – Extinguishing Fire Code Violations

At long last, there’s a glimmer of hope that the terrible new Condo Act forms introduced in 2017 may soon be improved.

On September 20, 2019, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services announced a proposal to entrust the fledgling Condominium Authority of Ontario with administering (and revising) certain Condo Act forms.

Of the 19 forms proposed to be delegated to CAO, 15 are new forms introduced in November 2017. The other 4 are older forms including the all-important status certificate, the notice of future funding of the reserve fund (formerly known as “Form 15”) and the often-ignored summary of lease or renewal under Condo Act, s.83. If the proposal is approved, these latter 2 forms would come under CAO control in July 2020 while the other 17 forms would switch over in January 2020.  This short timetable leaves just enough time to make the necessary regulatory changes.

The window for making submissions on this proposal is a very short 10 days, expiring September 30.  Make your comments by email from the regulatory registry website. Continue Reading Delegation of Condo Act forms may bring improvement soon

The Condominium Authority Tribunal, Ontario’s first and only online adjudication body, celebrated its first anniversary on November 1, 2018.

Envisioned as a one-stop shop of expert mediators and adjudicators helping condo boards and unit owners resolve condo disputes across Ontario, all entirely online, the CAT began accepting cases in November 2017. CAT’s initial jurisdiction is presently limited to condo records, which isn’t sexy but is important to unit owners struggling to access important records from their condo corporation. It’s also important for managers and boards to have clarity as to when records should not be produced, to protect the corporation and its owners.

From May to August 2018, the CAT released its first 8 decisions, covering a variety of scenarios. We will summarize those first 8 cases then offer a few lessons and predictions. Continue Reading CAT’s out of the bag: The Tribunal’s first year

New Standard Form of LeaseImage result for standard lease form

Effective April 30, 2018, landlords of private residential rental units, including condominium units, are required to use a new mandatory form of residential tenancy agreement for all new tenancies (the “Form”). You can download a copy of the Form on the government’s website:

Continue Reading The New Standard Form of Lease and Condo-specific Additional Terms