Marijuana in Condos


As you likely know, in April of 2017, the federal government introduced legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana in Canada. In September of 2017, Ontario introduced its own legislation to address the regulation of marijuana. In Ontario, the exclusive right to the sale of marijuana has been granted (at least for now) to the LCBO.

The legalization of marijuana is sure to be a popular topic for 2018. It is already discussed in mainstream media, on social media, and around the water cooler. It has been discussed at condo industry conferences and seminars. The discussion most recently focuses on what condominiums can do about the legalization of marijuana. I was asked for my thoughts on the matter recently by GlobalNews. You can read the full article here:


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New (Condo) Rules

It is impossible to draft rules that will work forever. The residents change. The community changes. Technology changes. The legal landscape changes. Everything changes. For these reasons, I usually suggest that boards review their rules regularly to see if any rules need to be changed, removed, or added.  Here are a few issues that you may want to consider next time you revise the rules: Continue reading

Enforcing Against Landlord Owners

I am sure that we have all been to meetings where the issue of unruly tenants is raised by a director or owner. The complaints are often about noise, overcrowding, damage to the property, or parking. Sometimes the complaints are about risky behaviour, or even criminal activity. The other residents may try to address the problems with the tenants, but many file complaints with the property manager or board instead. The owner is often unaware of the problems with their tenants until he receives a letter from the manager or board.

Once the owner receives the demand letter he is in the difficult position of trying to get his tenants to comply. Most owners know that if their tenants don’t comply with the condominium’s demands a lawyer will be hired by the condominium to write a letter and the cost may be charged back to the owner. If the owner cannot get his tenants to comply with the rules he is left with the nearly impossible task of trying to get an order for eviction from the Landlord and Tenant Board.

While the board of directors is in the difficult position of trying to elicit compliance from the tenants by enforcing against the owner, there are many provisions in the Act that it can rely upon. Section 119(2) requires the owner to take “all reasonable steps” to ensure that his tenants comply with the Act, the declaration, by-laws and rules. This section is similar to section 17(3) of the Act, which requires the condominium to take “all reasonable steps” to ensure that the owners comply.

What is “all reasonable steps”?

A recent case discussed the term. In Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation No. 2032 v. Boudair et al (2016) the condominium commenced an application against the tenants and owner of a unit after it received complaints about smoke escaping from the unit and entering the adjacent units.

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Looking Forward: New Legal Requirements for 2015

There are plenty of important legislative changes coming into force in January 2015. Some apply to condominiums, some apply only to larger condominiums. Some apply to property management companies. Here are a few:

1) Building Code – amendments come into force in January to promote greater accessibility for persons with disabilities. The amendments apply to most new construction and extensive renovations to existing buildings. Specific items include:

  • Visual fire alarms to be installed in all corridors of multi-unit residential buildings;
  • Power door operators to be provided at entrances to a wider range of buildings, and at entrances to barrier-free restrooms and common areas in multi-unit residential buildings;  and
  • New requirements for barrier-free and universal restrooms.

For more information on specific requirements you should speak with the condominium’s engineer or accessibility expert.

2) Smoke-Free Ontario Act – smoking will be prohibited in places where it was previously permitted, such as public playgrounds, public sports fields, and restaurant or bar patios. While these amendments won’t change anything for residential condominiums, commercial or mixed-use condominiums may be able to piggyback on these amendments to eliminate smoking on patios.

3) Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) – more of the integrated standards requirements come into force on January 1st, 2015. Small organizations (1-50 employees) must create accessibility policies. Large organizations must provide training to employees and volunteers, and ensure feedback processes are accessible.

There are plenty of other legislative changes coming into force next year. More on those in a future post.

Top Condo Cases of 2014

The courts have been busy this year! While that is good news for law bloggers, it means far too many condominiums are spending money on lawyers when they could be spending it on solutions. Here are the highlights from cases in Ontario:

10. Declarants may use s.152(6) of the Condominium Act, 1998 to regain control of phased condominiums years after they became entitled to request a meeting of owners to elect a new board. Such conduct may not be oppressive, even when the reason for the request was to end litigation started by the condominium against the declarant: Middlesex 643 v. Prosperity Homes LimitedContinue reading

What’s that Smell? Smoke and Odours in Condos

It seems that smoking and odour problems are on the rise these days in condominiums. The reason? Likely a combination of municipal planning departments approving more high density developments and our growing intolerance for smoking (cigarettes at least). The solution? It depends.

In a few rare cases, there may be smoking indoors on common areas, such as corridors or elevators. Smoking is illegal (see the Smoke Free Ontario Act) in any common area of a condominium, including elevators, hallways, garages, party rooms, laundry facilities, or exercise areas. Smoking is legal on the exterior common elements as long as they are not covered.

More often than not, the problem arises when a unit owner is smoking within a unit or on an exclusive-use common element, such as a balcony or patio, or where a unit owner has non-traditional cooking times or uses more fragrant ingredients. While such conduct may be legal, it may be prohibited by the condominium’s declaration or rules.

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Condo fails to address smoke complaints

Smoking in condominiums has become a popular topic in recent years. A number of condominiums have amended their declarations to prohibit smoking on the common elements. Some condominiums have even amended their declarations to prohibit smoking anywhere on the property. Notwithstanding all of the amendments, there have been very few reported cases on smoking in condominiums.

In one recent case (MacKay v. Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation No. 985) the owners claimed the condominium was in breach of its duty to maintain and repair the common elements and their unit. The owners complained of cigar smoke entering their unit from an adjacent unit. The owners’ insurance adjuster determined that the unit was uninhabitable. The insurer paid for the owners to stay in a hotel for 10 months. The owners reported their complaints to the condominium. The condominium did very little to address their complaints so the owners commenced an application.

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