February 9, 2022
Niagara South Condominium Corporation No. 12 v. Kore, et al, 2021 ONSC 8475
As the pandemic continues, being unable to engage in our favourite activities can cause some to lash out. In condominiums, that frustration can often be inappropriately targeted at boards, employees, and managers. Whether the pandemic is to blame or not will surely be the subject matter of many studies in the future, but during this pandemic there apparently has been an increase in the number of cases involving section 117 of the Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Act”) – “dangerous activities”.
In Niagara South Condominium Corporation No. 12 v. Kore, et al, our litigation team successfully argued an application in the Superior Court involving intimidating, threatening, and harassing conduct of two unit owners.
The unit owners’ conduct began in 2018 and involved physical altercations with others. One unit owner bumped his chest against another, claiming he would “crush” him in a dispute over governance. The conduct escalated from there, including following individuals and placing a hunting camera in the direction of common elements and units at the Condominium Property. The conduct resulted in multiple police attendances.
The owners then proceeded to post photos of a character from the film V for Vendetta (a violent vigilante) on the Condominium’s bulletin board in protest of the governance of the Condominium. The conduct of these two owners left other owners, members of the board, and employees of the Condominium feeling intimidated, harassed, and threatened.
The owners did not deny their behaviour, but instead claimed such was justified as reasonable dissent about their displeasure with the governance of the condominium.
The Courts’ Findings
The Court found the behaviour of the owners to be:
(i) a flouting of the rules;
(ii) physically aggressive;
(iv) harassing; and
It found that all of the behaviours amounted to a clear violation of section 117 of the Act.
The Court ordered the unit owners to comply with their obligations under the Act, cease disturbing the comfort and quiet enjoyment of others and, most importantly, cease harassing and intimidating the other owners, the Board, and the condominium’s employees.
In her Honour’s decision on behalf of the Court, Justice Donohue succinctly summarises what it means to live in a condominium. “It comes down to respect: Respect for the rules. Respect for employees, the Board, and one’s neighbours. Respect for the common and shared space of others.”
Respect is the operative word. Although owners may disagree with the decisions of boards, dissent is never an excuse to resort to harassing and intimidating conduct to express one's views. The Courts will not tolerate such behaviour in the community living setting of condominiums. The Act codifies many democratic processes for the owners to express a desire for change or an opinion.
Perhaps the Court’s words in this case can apply more broadly. If we all respect the rules and each other, we can get through this pandemic with our communities intact and even strengthened.
Written by Christopher Mendes, edited by Robert Mullin and Danielle Marks. *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.