The courts might have slowed down because of the pandemic, but the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) appears to be unaffected by the pandemic. The CAT is predominantly online with less rigid rules than traditional courts, so this makes a lot of sense. It is relatively easy for online processes to continue in most cases. Here are some of the highlights from the CAT this summer. Continue reading
I have heard of situations where a condominium wants to avoid a requirement of the Act for one reason or another. Often the desire is to avoid the costs associated with the requirement. Other times the desire appears to be to reduce the number of administrative tasks. Whatever the reason, Section 176 of the Condominium Act, 1998, clearly states that the Act “applies despite any agreement to the contrary”. This means you cannot contract out of the Act.
Notwithstanding Section 176 of the Act, there are parts of the Act that a condominium can override by making changes to its declaration, by-laws or rules. There are also parts of the Act that a condominium can opt-out of if certain requirements are met. Continue reading
A recent CAT decision serves as a good reminder to condominiums of the consequences for refusing to participate in the process.
The owner requested various records from the condominium twice. The condominium had its lawyer respond indicating that it had no obligation to respond because the owner had not used the mandatory form. The lawyer provided a copy of the request form with the letter and indicated that they would respond to the request once it was submitted on the proper form. The owner completed the form and sent a copy via fax to the lawyer and manager. The condominium did not respond so the owner filed a case with the Condominium Authority Tribunal (the “CAT”).
The owner provided notice of the CAT case by courier to the condominium at the management office. The CAT clerk even contacted the condominium twice to ensure they received the notice. The condominium still did not join the case. The condominium did not participate at any point and the process continued without it.
There is an interesting discussion of records requested by the owner that related to a civil action commenced by the condominium against the builder and developer. The action was funded by a special assessment and eventually settled with a payment to the condominium of $1.7 million. The owner was concerned because there was apparently a discrepancy between the settlement amount and the amount received by the condominium ($700,000) so the owner sought an accounting of the amount as well as the settlement agreement. After reviewing sections 55 and 23 of the Act, the CAT member found the owner was entitled to see the settlement agreement.
The CAT ordered the condominium to provide all of the records requested by the owner and pay a penalty of $3,000 for its refusal to provide the records without reasonable excuse. The CAT also awarded the owner costs of $150 (the filing fees paid to the CAT by the owner).
While $3,000 is a significant penalty for many condominiums, I wonder if it is enough incentive for some of the larger condominiums with multi-million dollar budgets. Clearly some are still choosing to ignore record requests by owners (and apparently direct contact from the CAT clerk). What will it take to get them to respond? $10,000? Personal liability on the directors? A summons? Fortunately, most condominiums comply with their obligations when records are requested.
The full case is available on CanLii: https://www.canlii.org/en/on/oncat/doc/2019/2019oncat44/2019oncat44.pdf
On April 11, 2019, I wrote about some of the Condo Authority Tribunal (CAT) decisions so far. Some of the highlights include the dismissal of claims that were vexatious, the adoption of the “open book” principle enumerated in previous case law, and confirmation that owners may access the list of owners. You can read the post here. The CAT has been busy since my previous post, releasing another 16 decisions in the last four months! Here are some of the highlights for these recent cases: Continue reading
Earlier this week the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) released its first five decisions. The CAT only has jurisdiction over record disputes at this point in time so all five decisions relate to records. The cases are available on CanLII should you wish to read them in full. Here are the highlights: Continue reading