Every condominium corporation in Ontario has a right to make entry to a unit (or the exclusive use common elements) pursuant to section 19 of the Condominium Act, 1998. Section 19 states:
Right of entry
19. On giving reasonable notice, the corporation or a person authorized by the corporation may enter a unit or a part of the common elements of which an owner has the exclusive use at any reasonable time to perform the objects and duties of the corporation or to exercise the powers of the corporation.
There are a number of important pre-requisites mentioned in section 19.
First, the condominium corporation must provide “reasonable notice”. What is reasonable is anyone’s guess since the term is not defined in the Act. It will depend upon the circumstances (i.e. emergency, annual inspection) and should be determined on a case-by-case basis. I generally suggest that as much time as possible be provided and no less than 48 hours notice, unless necessary in the circumstances.
Second, the entry must take place at a “reasonable time”. Again, the term reasonable is not defined. Typically entry to a unit will occur during the day or early evening; often between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Unless the owner agrees, entry should not be made during the early morning or late evening hours, except in emergency situations, as it may be very disruptive to the occupants of the unit and those surrounding it. In some cases, special accommodation may be required if an owner or occupant has a disability that makes entry to his/her unit at certain times unsuitable because of his/her disability.
Third, the entry must be designed to allow the condominium corporation to perform its objects and duties or exercise its powers. Typical reasons include conducting annual fire safety inspections, completing repair and maintenance work, and investigating a complaint about the unit (i.e. excessive noise, hoarding concerns). This is not an exhaustive list.
Almost every condominium corporation’s declaration has entry rights similar to those granted in section 19 of the Condominium Act, 1998.
If an owner refuses to permit a condominium corporation to make entry to his/her unit, the condominium corporation may apply to the court pursuant to section 134 of the Condominium Act, 1998, for an order requiring the owner to permit the condominium corporation to access the unit.
Although section 19 permits a condominium corporation to make entry to a unit (or exclusive-use common elements) in a broad range of circumstances, condominium corporations must be sure not to abuse it since such conduct could be seen as oppressive in extreme cases.