As we are quickly approaching a new year, we’ve taken a look back at the condominium legal landscape over the past year. This has been quite the year! Here are some of the highlights.
Legalization of Marijuana – Prior to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada this past October, many condominium corporations raced to enact rules to regulate and restrict the use and cultivation of marijuana on the condominium property. Those corporations that did not do so will no doubt find that any attempts now to enact such rules will be met with requests for grandfathering by existing smokers and growers.
Electronic Voting – As of November, 2017, amendments to the Ontario Condominium Act allow condominium corporations to permit owner voting by “telephonic or electronic means.” Many condominium corporations have now started to pass electronic voting by-laws to allow owners to vote on-line rather than having owners complete proxy forms if owners are unable to attend a meeting. By implementing electronic voting, boards and managers are finding much greater participation from owners, and solicitation of proxies and proxy battles and manipulation are gone. Electronic voting makes life easier for managers, board members and owners.
Human Rights Issues – Human rights issues continue to challenge condominium corporations. In the past year we blogged about a number of cases involving human rights issues:
- One resident was harassed by another resident about her service dog;
- A visually-impaired owner claimed that he had been discriminated against when his condo association would not allow him to have wooden floors in his unit;
- An owner alleged that the corporation failed to adequately remediate mould in her unit, which was caused by water leakage through the building envelop, despite the fact that she had provided medical evidence confirming that she suffered from heart and lung ailments that were exacerbated by the mould in her unit;
- One condominium corporation was faced with the challenges of balancing the needs of an owner with a potentially life-threatening allergy to marijuana with those that need to smoke marijuana for medical reasons;
- A disabled owner claimed that she had been discriminated against after her condo association demanded that her 75-pound service dog be transported in a carrier while on the common elements;
- One condo owner claimed that she was discriminated against on the basis of religion when her condo association required her to stop holding bible meetings on the common elements, while secular activities and meetings were permitted;
- A Jewish owner fought his condominium corporation over his right to have a mezuzah attached to the exterior door frame of his unit despite condominium rules prohibiting residents from affixing anything to the common elements.
Real Estate Sale Prices Now be Available On-Line to Consumers – Thanks to a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling, real estate agents and brokers will now be able to publish the sale prices of sold properties. For years the Toronto Real Estate Board fought with the Competition Bureau who claimed that the Board’s prohibition on the publication of this information constituted anti-competitive behavior.
Ontario Releases Report on Elevator Availability – The Ontario Technical Safety and Standards Authority released a report on elevator availability. A number of concerns were identified in the report, including the fact that many condominiums experience prolonged periods with partial or no elevator service and there is a shortage of qualified elevator mechanics to carry out maintenance and repair work on a timely basis.
The End of the Lahrkamp Saga? – In a number of prior blog posts, we reported about a unit owner, Mr. Lahrkamp, who had engaged in more than a dozen legal proceedings against his condominium corporation over approximately ten years.
In 2018 the corporation successfully obtained a Court order prohibiting Mr. Lahrkamp from commencing any further legal proceedings against the corporation and any current, past or future directors of the corporation, its condo manager and any of the corporation’s service providers except with leave of a judge of the Superior Court of Justice.
While the granting of this order was a success for the condominium corporation will it really end the Lahrkamp saga? The order that was issued was very specific as it applies only to the corporation and its directors, condo manager and service providers. If Mr. Lahrkamp becomes the owner in another condominium the restrictions imposed on him would not apply to that condominium corporation. Furthermore, will that order prevent Mr. Lahrkamp from making applications to the Condominium Authority Tribunal?
We expect that 2019 will also be an interesting year.