January 2022, Condominium Act, 1998
While we were all ringing in the New Year, the Condominium Authority Tribunal (the “CAT”) was welcoming some new disputes to their jurisdiction. You may recall that Bill 106, otherwise known as the Protecting Condominium Owners Act (the “PCOA”) received royal assent on December 3, 2015.
The PCOA created staggered amendments to the Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Act”), including the creation of the CAT. The CAT was designed to be a low-cost, user-friendly forum for condominiums and unit owners to settle a number of prescribed disputes. Initially, the CAT’s jurisdiction was limited to records. In October 2020, the CAT’s jurisdiction was expanded to include disputes relating to: (i) pets/animals; (ii) parking/ vehicles; and (iii) storage. Now, with nearly four (4) years of decisions under its belt, the CAT’s jurisdiction is expanding again.
Expansion of CAT’s Jurisdiction:
On January 1, 2022, section 102 of the PCOA was proclaimed into force. This served to amend section 117 of the Act and two (2) regulations, being O.Regs 48/01 and 179/17.
Section 117 of the Act prohibits “dangerous activities” from occurring in condominiums which include circumstances likely to damage the property or cause injury to an individual. This provision was often utilized only in the most severe situations and required an application to the Superior Court for resolution.
Section 117 of the Act now contains further prohibitions on conduct including on: (a) any unreasonable noise that is a nuisance, annoyance or disruption; and (b) any other prescribed dispute.
The “prescribed” disputes are enumerated in section 26 of Ontario Regulation 48/01 and include: (i) odour; (ii) smoke; (iii) vapour; (iv) light; and (v) vibrations.
Disputes between condominiums and owners regarding such issues can now be sought in the CAT’s online dispute resolution forum, without the need to proceed to Court or mediation/arbitration pursuant to section 132 of the Act.
Refresher on Process:
The CAT’s dispute resolution process takes place online and consists of a three-step process, being: (i) negotiation;
(ii) mediation; and
(iii) a hearing.
In Step 1, the parties attempt to reach a resolution through discussion and exchanging documents. In Step 2, the CAT appoints a mediator who facilitates discussion and attempts to guide the parties towards an agreement. If a resolution cannot be reached, the matter may proceed to Step 3, which is a hearing involving evidence, witnesses, and oral or written argument. Thereafter the Tribunal will make a final and binding decision.
As of January 1, 2022, the CAT now has jurisdiction to determine all disputes with respect to:
- Storage; and,
- Noise, nuisance, smoke, vapour, light, and vibrations.
It is important to remember that this jurisdiction also includes disputes with respect to “indemnification” regarding the above. Condominiums should consider this jurisdiction when seeking reimbursement of costs incurred in dealing with such disputes.
As of the writing of this article, the CAT has yet to render any decisions involving the expanded jurisdiction. Stay tuned for updates when the decisions begin to roll out.
Written by Christopher Mendes, edited by Fiona Burnett and Robert Mullin.
*This article does not constitute legal advice, always consult legal counsel.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and is not legal advice. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your specific circumstance.