In a previous blog, we looked at a number of cases in the U.S. relating to condominium residents affixing mezuzot on the exterior unit doors. In Canada, there are no reported cases that specifically deal with mezuzot. However, the Supreme Court of Canada determined in 2004 that sincere personal religious beliefs override the terms of a condominium declaration and unit owners were allowed to erect a temporary ritual hut on their balconies (known as a Sukkah) despite the provisions of the declaration. While this case and its ramifications has stirred some controversy in the legal community as to the extent to which a condominium corporation is required to accommodate religious beliefs, it is clear that condominium corporations do need to take religious beliefs and practices into account with enforcement matters. Like most legal situations, especially in the realm of human rights, context and particular facts are critical and no two cases are the same. However, the aforementioned mezuzah cases and the Supreme Court’s decision provide important factors to consider in the context of enforcement matters, including:
- the reason for the unit owner’s infraction;
- the underlying rationale for the rule or provision;
- has the rule’s rationale been clearly communicated or has the corporation requested an explanation of the religious practice?
- are there any reasonable alternatives instead of strict enforcement or ignoring a rule?
- have these alternatives been communicated or requested? and
- has the rule been selectively enforced?
Ultimately, each situation is unique and it is always advisable to involve legal counsel as early as possible to avoid complications down the road.