Charter of Rights Apply in Condominiums

Gerry Hyman has another article for the Toronto Star.  Let’s discuss some of the questions:

QUESTION:  A number of owners who wanted to arrange a meeting to discuss management and our financial affairs taped an envelope containing a brief note to the entrance door of each condominium’s unit. Management staff removed the envelopes and a subsequent monthly newsletter stated that residents were not to discuss corporation affairs. Am I correct that removal of the envelopes and the newsletter prohibition were improper?

ANSWER:  The board of directors, if it authorized the removal, will likely take the position that an owner is not entitled to append notices to common element doors. The Condominium Act, however, permits owners to make reasonable use of the common elements subject to the act, the declaration, bylaws and rules.

It is arguable that attaching a letter to the door of the owner’s unit, and addressed to the owner, is both reasonable and a permitted common element use in the absence of a specific prohibition in the declaration or rules.

The newsletter prohibition is ridiculous — and of no effect.

The ban on discussing the affairs of the condominium is in total violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, namely Section 2 of the Charter which states:

Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.

This means that the owners have the absolute right to express their opinions.  The Board is free to explain their position on issues being raised, or ultimately to resign if they do not wish to be held accountable for their actions.

Also, the owners can requisition a meeting to discuss the issue.

Another question raised was:

QUESTION:  Can owners of at least 15 per cent of the units requisition an owners’ meeting for a vote to bar dogs from the units and common elements?

ANSWER:  A prohibition of dogs requires an amendment to the declaration. The first step is a resolution of the board. While an affirmative vote of owners of at least 80 per cent of the units is necessary following the resolution, the amendment cannot be initiated by a requisition for an owners’ meeting.

Mr. Hyman is slightly off on this.  I know of condominiums that have effectively implemented a ‘no dog’ rule.  In each case, the owners were asked to approve the rule, which they ultimately did.  While a ban through the Declaration is preferable, a rule can be implemented as well.  However, the Board should be consulted before the rule is written.  Under the current Act, rules do not need to be passed by the Board first.  However, it would be of assistance if the Board gets the condominium’s lawyer to write the rule in order to make sure it will be applicable under the current legislation.

Lastly, let’s discuss the following question:

QUESTION:  A vehicle with a flat tire has been parked in the owner’s parking space for over six months. Is the property manager correct in stating that the board can do nothing about this unsightly vehicle that is likely damaging the asphalt?

ANSWER:  A rule could be passed requiring vehicles to display a valid licence and to be in operating condition.

This rule should be passed in more condominiums.  Some cars are obviously abandoned and do become an eye sore.

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