As we are quickly approaching a new year, we’ve taken a look back at the condominium legal landscape in Ontario over the past year. As usual, it has been an interesting year.
Here’s our list of the some of the most newsworthy items in 2015:
1. Bill 106 – Of course, the highlight of the year was the introduction of Bill 106, being a substantial revamping of the Condominium Act. After an extensive collaborative public engagement process over 18 months, Bill 106 was introduced in May of 2015, and received Royal Assent in December of this year.
2. Amendment to the Electronic Commerce Act – Effective July 1, 2015 it is legal for parties to sign agreements of purchase and sale and other documents that create or transfer an interest in land by way of electronic signatures.
3. Ballingall v. CCC No. 111 – This case confirmed the existing law relating to the interpretation of “single family” restrictions in condominium documents where there was no definition of “single family”. Single family means “a social unit consisting of parent(s) and their children, whether natural or adopted and that includes other relatives if living with the primary group”. This case also considered the standard of care imposed on condominium directors and emphasized that a director must not put his own personal interests ahead of the legitimate interests of all of the owners.
4. Orr v. MTCC No. 1056 – A condominium corporation and a purchaser’s lawyer were found equally liable to a purchaser for damages for negligent misstatement and negligence, respectively, as a result of the purchaser obtaining title to a two-storey unit, rather than the three-storey unit that the purchaser saw and thought that she was buying. This case illustrates how a mistake can escalate into a time-consuming and costly nightmare. While the trial lasted over three months, the legal proceedings spanned over eight years. This resulted in total legal costs of over a million dollars, which exceeded the amount of the damages awarded.
5. Wu v. PCC No. 245 – After a condominium corporation ignored a unit owner’s complaints about noise over the course of approximately six years, the Court found that the unit owner had been oppressed by the condominium corporation and that her interests had been unfairly prejudiced and disregarded. This case emphasizes that a condominium corporation must balance the objectively reasonable expectations of an owner with the interests of the corporation and all the owners, and that a finding of bad faith is not necessarily needed to determine that there has been oppression.
6. Statute of Limitations and Real Property Limitations Act – We blogged about a number of cases (Tarko v. MTCC No. 626, MTCC No. 659 v. Truman and TSCC 1487 v. Market Lofts Inc.) in the past year where one party took the position that the other party’s claim was barred because the legal proceedings were commenced after the expiry of the limitation period set out in the applicable limitations statute. Any party contemplating legal action should be consulting with legal counsel sooner rather than later to ensure that claims are made before the expiry of the applicable limitations period.
We expect that 2016 will also be an interesting year. An independent review of the Tarion Warranty Corporation and the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act is in the works and we hope to see the new regulations to the Condominium Act, which will provide the details of many of the provisions set out in Bill 106.