In a recent case, Louiseize v. PCC No. 103, a condominium owner who knowingly breached the “private single-family residence” restriction in the condominium declaration for almost 14 years, was given 9 months to bring his units into compliance with the declaration.
From the time that he bought his units (which were purchased in 2001, 2003 and 2004) they were leased to multiple unrelated tenants and the owner failed to provide the condominium corporation with the names of the persons occupying the units, as required by section 83 of the Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Act”). Although the condominium corporation sent the owner the occasional notice reminding him of the restriction and requesting the names of those occupying the units, the corporation did not take any steps to enforce the declaration until 2013.
This case was originally heard by an arbitrator. After noting that the unit owner had knowingly breached the declaration and that the condominium corporation had for years breached its statutory duty under section 17(3) of the Act to enforce the declaration, the arbitrator gave the unit owner 9 months to bring the units into compliance. The arbitrator found that the the existing tenancies could be terminated with 60 days’ notice and that the units could be readily rented in compliance with the declaration, although this would result in a decreased rent of about $600 per unit per month.
The unit owner appealed the arbitrator’s decision and sought to have the order varied so that he would be allowed 75 months to bring two units into compliance and 55 months to do so for the other unit. The Superior Court of Justice found that the arbitrator had not made any errors in law and that the 9-month time period given by the arbitrator was reasonable. The unit owner did not provide any evidence as to why he needed a period of approximately 5 years to wind down his existing leasing arrangements. In addition, the unit owner had benefited financially by the corporation’s failure to promptly enforce the declaration.
The declaration also contained a non-waiver clause that stated that “the failure to take action to enforce any provision contained in the Act, this declaration . . . irrespective of the number of violations or breaches . . . shall not constitute waiver of the right to do so thereafter, nor be deemed to abrogate or waive such provision.” The unit owner unsuccessfully claimed that this non-waiver clause was contrary to section 17(3) of the Act as it was unreasonable for the corporation to enforce the declaration after acquiescing to the breach for so many years.
While the condominium corporation was ultimately successful in this case, it would have been in a stronger position had there not been such a long delay before it took steps to enforce compliance. When condominium boards become aware of any non-compliance with the condominium documents or the Act they should be taking steps to enforce compliance sooner rather than later.