In a recent case before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (Latendresse v. CCC No. 8), a condominium resident alleged that the condominium corporation had discriminated against him with respect to occupancy of accommodations because of a disability.
The corporation’s rules required that residents carry or use a carrier to transport animals in the common elements. After the resident had complied with this rule for several months, he requested to be exempted from the rule because of difficulties lifting his dog. When this request was refused, the resident stated that the dog was a service dog required as a result of a mental health disability.
In order to accommodate the resident, the corporation offered him the use of an open-top wagon with a ramp that would allow the dog to walk onto and out of the wagon without being lifted. The resident did not accept this offer and proceeded to take his dog onto the common elements without a carrier. The corporation then fined the resident $50 every time he did this.
When the resident commenced his application under the Human Rights Code, he also requested as an interim remedy, that he be allowed to transport his dog in the common elements without a carrier, pending the ultimate determination of his human rights complaint.
This request was denied, even though the resident had satisfied the Tribunal that he had an arguable case that was not frivolous or vexatious. Because the resident had complied with the rule for a number of months by using a carrier for his dog, the Tribunal felt that an interim exemption from compliance with the rule would create a new state of affairs rather than preserve the existing state of affairs. The Tribunal took the position that the balance of convenience favoured having a full hearing and an opportunity to hear all the evidence before making a decision as to whether the Human Rights Code had in fact been violated.
Ultimately the parties agreed to participate in mediation. If the parties are able to settle the dispute, then the Tribunal will not be required to determine whether or not the corporation had violated the Human Rights Code.
Note that the fines imposed by the condominium corporation would not be enforceable, as the Ontario Condominium Act, 1998 does not give condominium corporations the authority to impose fines for non-compliance with the condominium documents. However, the Human Rights Tribunal does not have the jurisdiction to make a ruling on the validity of the fines. Any legal challenge as to the enforceability of the fines would need to be brought in a court of law.