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

A Toronto condominium is making headlines after levying a $14 million special assessment. The condo’s 321 units were given 15 days to pay between $30,000 to $42,500. Many residents are seniors who see their units as their retirement home but the condo promised it wouldn’t enforce its liens before April…how generous.

The building needs major structural repairs and its finances are shocking to say the least. Last spring, the condo had a $5,000 operating fund and a whopping $1.75 in its reserve fund. The condo reportedly owes “as much as $9 million in debt” with $8 million owed to private lenders and another $1 million owed to the City of Toronto for unpaid utility charges – the condo pays $80,000 a month on interest alone.

This condo’s dysfunction predates the $14 million special assessment – it is one of the few condos that had a court-appointed administrator. Evidently this condo’s problems could not be solved even with an administrator. This is story should serve as a both a warning and a rude awakening for condos across the province: condominium operations are no joke.


Continue Reading $14M Special Assessments or: How I learned to stop worrying and take condo governance seriously

Condo boards and owners should be familiar with the concept of “common elements” and “units”. While there is no “one size fits all” approach to distinguishing the two, in simplified terms, anything that is not part of a “unit” is a “common element”. Diligent boards and owners should review the condo’s Declaration  for inclusions/ exclusions to and from the unit,  maintenance and repair obligations and Schedule “C” to determine unit boundaries; the condo’s registered plan drawings will lay that out in an illustrated form. Understanding these points is critically important.

In Landont Ltd. v. Frontenac Condominium Corp. No. 11, Landont Ltd. used their unit to operate a commercial parking lot. Landont and FCC 11 agreed that the concrete slab below the lot was a common element, but this case turned on whether a waterproofing membrane installed on the upper surface of the concrete slab was part of the common elements. The distinction fundamentally determined which party was responsible for maintaining and repairing the membrane.

Continue Reading Unit and common element boundaries: Not always as “concrete” as they seem

Lozano v. TSCC 1765 was one of our Top 10 cases for 2020 because it reaffirmed that a higher negligence threshold is not applicable for s.105 chargebacks. You can read a summary of the case in our newsletter, Condo Alert!, Winter 2020

 Lozano’s insurer (who paid the insurance deductible) appealed the 2020 decision, asking the Divisional Court to re-write s.105 of the Condo Act and adopt a “robust” negligence test for liability under that section. The court rejected this proposal and dismissed the appeal a few days ago. 

Continue Reading Never mind the ballcocks, here’s the shut-off valve 

A brand-new Occupiers Liability Act provision requires Notice to be given by a person injured by ice or snow on privately-owned property, within 60 days after the date of injury.

That Snow/Ice Injury Notice must describe in writing the location, date, time and circumstances giving rise to the injury.  The Notice must either be sent

PennypinchMany people who work with condominiums raised an eyebrow after reading a recent Toronto Star story entitled “Maintenance fees take a toll on Toronto condo owners.”

The piece highlights the divergent philosophies about the interplay between common expenses and market values and the growing trend towards gathering, tracking and comparing common expenses data from building to building. Most notably, it cites the example of a local condominium that reduced its common expenses by 30% (probably by slashing contributions to the reserve fund) and is now witnessing a boom in unit resale values compared to nearby condos.

Continue Reading The common expenses conundrum