CAT released a new decision regarding whether a corporation’s pet rule was reasonable.
The applicant, a unit owner and pet owner, brought the CAT proceeding requesting that CAT order the repeal of Rule 3.1 of the corporation’s rules. His position was that the rule, which restricted residents from taking pets into or through the front lobby of the condominium building, violated s. 58(2) of the Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Act”) because it was inconsistent with the corporation’s declaration and was not reasonable.
The corporation argued that the rule was reasonable and met the requirements under the Act.
CAT first had to determine which rule was in effect. There were two sets of rules at issue – a 2017 rule and a 2019 rule. The applicant received a copy of the 2017 rule when he requested his status certificate in 2019. The 2017 rule read as follows:
No pet shall be taken into/through the lobby; side and rear doors shall be used.
The corporation took the position that the 2017 rule was amended in 2019 to read as follows:
No pet shall be taken into/through the lobby between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.; side and rear doors shall be used. This rule is suspended in the event of a fire or emergency evacuation.
The applicant’s position was that neither the 2017 or 2019 rule were reasonable and requested an order to repeal the rule, regardless of which was in effect.
CAT found that the 2019 rule was not in effect as the corporation did not comply with the notice requirements under section 58 of the Act. CAT specifically found that neither notice of the amendment was sent to owners as required by section 58(6) of the Act nor was the rule amended at a meeting of owners called for the purposes set out in section 58(5). Therefore, the 2019 rule was null and void and the 2017 remained the current rule.
The next issue pertained to whether the 2017 rule was consistent with the declaration and reasonable. The applicant submitted four other condominium rules to show that none of the rules restricted pet access through the common elements and argued that the current access route for pets exposed them to safety hazards.
CAT found that the rule was consistent with the declaration and reasonable. CAT referred to the case of York Condominium #382 v. Dvorchik and noted that, unless a rule is clearly unreasonable, deference should be shown to decisions of a board. CAT further noted that although the rule may be uncommon in comparison to those submitted by the applicant, the rule was not unreasonable as each corporation establishes its own rules based on its situation and requirements of its community. CAT also found that the safety concerns noted by the applicant did not make the rule unreasonable.
Lastly, CAT warned the corporation that it could be exposed to potential challenges to enforce the more stringent 2017 rule as the more lenient 2019 rule was never in effect. An important takeaway from the decision is for corporations to ensure that the proper procedures are followed when trying to implement and pass new rules.