The CAT Rules on Parking Dispute

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The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) has released a few decisions related to parking issues in condominiums in the last six months. We summarized one of the previous decisions in post last month. The CAT has released another one this month that is interesting in what is says about rule enforcement, delays in enforcing by condominiums, and the available remedies to condominiums.

In a recent case the tenant was parking a motorcycle beside the parking space where he parked his car. The space where he parked the motorcycle was not a parking space. The condominium informed him that he was prohibited from parking in the area as it was contrary to the rules, but the tenant refused to move the motorcycle. The condominium started a case with the CAT. The tenant did not participate, but the landlord did participate.

Rule Enforcement

The CAT first reviewed the rules to determine if there was a violation, and if so, if there were any reasons it should not be enforced in the case.

The condominium had a rule that prohibited owners from placing, locating, keeping, installing, or maintaining any item on the common elemens. The rule authorized the condominium to remove any item left on the common elements by an owner and store the items at the owner’s expense. The CAT determined that the tenant violated the rules by parking the motorcycle on the common elements. The landlord did not dispute the tenant was violating the rules by parking his motorcycle in the area next to his car.

The tenant argued that parking his motorcycle in the spot did not violate a fire safety rule, contravene the by-laws, or impede access to the property, so he should be able to continue parking the motorcycle in the space. The landlord supported the tenant’s position. The condominium conceded that it was not a fire safety issue and did not impede access. The condominium argued the tenant parking his motorcycle in the space was a violation of the rules.

The tenant and landlord also argued that the tenant should be able to park in the space as he had been doing so for many years. They argued that the rule was unreasonable and should not be enforced. They also argued that the condominium’s failure to enforce the rule for many years prevented it from doing so now. The CAT disagreed. The rule was not, on its face, unreasonable:

The fact that [the tenant’s] use of the space is not interfering with any critical infrastructure is not persuasive evidence that a prohibition of his use of that space is unreasonable. The Rule is not aimed at that corner of the parking garage or at him personally. The Rule appears to fall within a range of what is reasonable. I conclude that the Rule is not unreasonable.

The CAT found that there was some unexplained delay in enforcing the rule by the previous manager, but there was no evidence the condominium acquiesced in the tenant’s parking arrangements or led him to believe that he was parking in a permitted space. The CAT said “The lapse in enforcing the Rules might require some additional notice of the change in policy but this was provided by the numerous notices during the fall of 2020.”

Remedies

The condominium had several parking spaces for rent for motorcycles, but all spaces were being used at the time of the hearing so the only option was for the tenant to remove the motorcycle from the parking garage. The CAT gave the tenant 21 days to remove the motorcycle from its location. If the tenant fails to do so, the condominium is entitled to take any lawful action available to it to enforce its rules against the landlord and tenant and it will be entitled to charge those expenses to the owner or tenant, or both.

Spring Break Reading: The CAT Edition

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The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) has been busy so far in 2021. As of April 13, 2021, the CAT has released 30 decisions. Many of the decisions still relate to record requests, but there have been a few about other issues that it now has jurisdiction to hear, like pets and parking. Some cases were about procedural matters, like the application of the CAT rules. Some cases were about the jurisdiction of the CAT when other courts or tribunals also have jurisdiction over the dispute.

2021 ONCAT 27 : the CAT heard two motions from a condominium requesting the CAT dismiss or merge four cases and rule that the conduct of the applicants was vexatious. The CAT did not dismiss the cases, but the CAT ordered the applicants to choose which of their cases would proceed. The CAT also found that one of the representatives had repeatedly violated the CAT’s rules. He was not qualified to be a representative because he was not a lawyer, paralegal, or condo manager, and the CAT was not convinced he was a “friend” of the corporate applicants. Despite a ruling by the CAT that he was not qualified, he continued to monitor email, reply for the applicants, and submit documents for them. The CAT ordered the applicants to change their representative and provide updated email addresses to the CAT that the “friend” could not access.

2021 ONCAT 25: The CAT merged three cases brought by an owner against his condominium to provide the most fair, focused, and efficient process for both parties. The three cases related to: 1) parking rules; 2) pet rules; and 3) a record request for pet rules.

2021 ONCAT24: An owner requested two contracts from the condominium, which the condominium refused to provide because of the owner’s history of making complaints about the manager. The CAT found that complaining about your manager is not a valid reason for a condominium to refuse a valid request for records. The CAT awarded the owner $200 in costs and a penalty of $2,000.

2021 ONCAT 21: An owner filed a case against their condominium and a neighbour regarding a basketball net placed by the neighbour on their driveway. The condominium claimed it was not a violation of the rules and the owner asked permission to place the net on the driveway. The CAT found the basketball net was not contrary to the declaration or rules, but awarded the applicant $200 for filing fees because it was a novel issue within a new area of jurisdiction for the CAT.

2021 ONCAT 20: The owner brought a motion to defer the CAT case because they had already filed an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). The condominium was aware of the HRTO case when it filed the CAT case. The condominium acknowledged that it had a duty to accommodate the owner because of her disability. The condominium sought to require the dog to wear a muzzle in common areas. The CAT found the dispute was about the application and exemption of the condominium’s rules. The CAT dismissed the motion as it had jurisdiction to hear the dispute.

2021 ONCAT 18: The owner filed a case against her condominium and a neighbouring condominium about parking. The two condominiums shared a visitor’s parking area, which the owner sought to use. The case was dismissed as the time for filing the case had expired. She failed to bring an application within 2 years after the dispute arose, namely when she was denied permission to use the visitor parking area. The CAT did not rule on whether a claim by the owner for accommodation due to a disability would also be out of time under other legislation.

Summer Case Law Reading

legal case

Who doesn’t enjoy a little case law reading by the pool or beach? Oh, that’s just me? Oh well. I hope you enjoy reading these brief summaries anyway.

MTCC No. 1067 v. 1388020 Ontario Corp. 

This is an action by a condo to enforce a lien. The condo brought a motion for summary judgment. There were three issues: interest on the arrears of monthly fees; additional expenses claimed by the condo; and legal costs.

The condo claimed interest at a whopping 30% above the prime rate charged by TD to its best risk commercial accounts per annum, compounded monthly. The defendant argued that the condo was not entitled to such a high rate of interest because it could not provide precise, consistent statements to show it was entitled to the full amount. The judge disagreed. The by-law was a contractual arrangement between the owner and the condo and there was no reason not to enforce it.  Continue reading

Owner not oppressed by by-law restricting use of parking spaces

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I recently read an interesting case about parking rights in a commercial condominium. The applicant was the owner of three units, which were leased for use as a restaurant. The owner commenced an application against her condominium after it passed a by-law restricting parking in common element spaces.

Historically parking was allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. This led to problems with insufficient parking for customers and employees of many of the units. In 2009 the Board passed a by-law to change the allocation of parking spaces. The by-law allocated two parking spots to each unit. In 2014 the Board discovered that the by-law was never registered so it was not valid. The Board passed another by-law in 2015 to fix the problem. The 2015 by-law increased the number of parking spaces per unit to four. The result was that the restaurant had significantly less available parking for its customers.

Continue reading

What’s the Deal with Parking Spaces and Units?

I have noticed that many people use the terms “parking space” and “parking unit” interchangeably. Unfortunately, this can cause confusion as there are significant differences between parking units and parking spaces.

A parking unit is like other units in a condominium: it is identified in Schedules “C” and “D” of the declaration and in the description as a unit, and is not part of the common elements. The unit has its own legal title, which can be searched at the Land Registry Office or electronically. The unit may be leased or transferred by the owner, unless the condominium’s documents prohibit such.

On the other hand, parking spaces are not units. There is no separate legal title to the parking space and the owner that uses the space cannot transfer it. The parking spaces may be exclusive-use common elements or part of the ordinary common elements. Exclusive-use parking spaces are identified in Schedule “F” of the declaration and on the description. Some parking spaces are simply part of the common elements and the board assigns them to the owners and occupants, sometimes in a by-law.

While it may seem trivial, the distinction between parking units and parking spaces is important because of the different legal rights and obligations associated with each situation.

No duty to accommodate preferences

The Human Rights Tribunal recently released an interesting decision on the duty to accommodate an owner with a disability. In Taite v. Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 91 [2014] O.H.R.T.D. No. 166 the owner claimed the condominium had a duty to accommodate his disability by allowing him to park his truck outside near the front entrance and not underground in the parking garage as offered by the condominium (note: the truck did not fit in the underground). The tribunal disagreed.  Continue reading