Board Cannot Refuse Communication Between Owners

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

QUESTION:  Owners in my building have placed leaflets on each unit’s door handle, advertising a condominium community website. One of the directors has been seen removing the leaflets. Can he do this?

ANSWER:  The leaflets were obviously placed on the door handles for the benefit of the unit occupants. Removal of the leaflets should only be by the unit occupants or by the director if the board passed a resolution. The resolution would appear to be necessary even if the declaration or rules prohibited the attachment of anything to the door handles.

The Board in this condominium is obviously attempting to stop the owners from communicating with each other.  The obvious question is what the Board is up to?  If the Board does not like the fact that the owners have started up a website for the condominium, then it should have done so itself, including a section with a discussion board.  If the Board does not want to tell owners what it is doing, or for people to communicate with each other, one has to wonder what the Board is up to?  Keeping secrets is never a good thing!

Another question raised was:

QUESTION:  Can a Corporation limit the number of units that can be rented out?

ANSWER:  No. A court has held that the right to rent an owner’s unit is an incident of ownership and cannot be removed by setting a limit on the permitted number of rentals.

The condominium cannot limit the total number of units that can be rented out, however it can insist on a six month minimum leaser (although I always recommend a one year lease), and can refuse to allow owners to rent out their units through Airbnb.

A third question raised was:

QUESTION:  Our building has been promoted as an adult-only building. Can we pass a bylaw to ensure that it is adult-only?

ANSWER:  No. The Divisional Court held in 1991 that an adult-only provision constituted discrimination under The Human Rights Code based on family status and was thus invalid.

While the condominium cannot stop children from living in the community, it certainly is not required to provide amenities for children.  Some condominiums, in order to legally try and limit the number of children in the community, will style themselves as an “Adult Lifestyle” condominium and provide amenities geared towards adults.  While there is no guarantee that the Human Rights Tribunal will always side with this way of operating, it does not specifically stop children from living in the condominium and will likely stop many parents from purchasing a unit in the community.

Another question raised was:

QUESTION:  Can the board pass a rule that would allow penalties for breach of parking rules?

ANSWER:  No. penalties by a Corporation are not permitted in Ontario under the Condominium Act.

The Board has other options for dealing with parking issues.  The main one is through mediation, arbitration, and the court system to enforce the rules.  Some of these issues will transfer over to the Condominium Tribunal after November 1st, 2017.  But the Board could ultimately get a court order (with costs charged back to the unit owners) if required to prevent the person from parking illegally.  Or vehicles could be towed.  There are other options, although it sometimes would be nice to see fines allowed.

And lastly, there is this question:

QUESTION:  Our condo corporation has levied a special assessment to pay the fees of a paralegal hired to represent the condo in a small claims court action. Can the corporation do this?

ANSWER:  If the corporation needs the money required to pay the fees charged by the paralegal, a special assessment may be levied.

We do not know any information, however, if the condominium was successful in its legal action, at least some (if not all) the court costs could be applied to the losing party and as such the condominium would be out less money, if at all.  But depending on the overall cost involved, and normally a paralegal’s fees are less than a solicitor’s (lawyer’s) fees, the special assessment should be small.  If it is large, and depending on the situation of the case, the owners may wish to look at replacing the Board with new directors.  For example, if the costs are over $2,000 and the Board could have done things differently as to not incur the legal action, then perhaps the directors were not doing as good of a job as they should have.  It is just too bad we do not have more information to know what occurred.

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