Property managers and condominium corporations should take noise complaints seriously or risk facing serious financial consequences. In a recent case, a condominium corporation that failed to enforce its rules prohibiting excessive noise was ordered to compensate an owner for the costs incurred to find alternative accommodation and was ordered to pay a significant costs award. The judge also criticized the property manager for not having taken the complaint seriously.
Click here for The Condo Report: All about pets in condominiums.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to attend our recent seminar, “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs: Everything a Condominium Corporation Needs to Know about Pets”. We were overwhelmed with positive comments and are pleased that so many of you found it to be interesting and informative. We know of at least one pet who showed a keen interest in our presentation – take a look at the photo below of our furry friend Athena.
Pet owners in condominiums who fail to familiarize themselves with the condominium’s restrictions on pets, or who blatantly ignore these restrictions, do so at the risk of having a court order that the pet be permanently removed from the property. The case of Strata Plan LMS 2629 v. Blondin.pdf dealt with a strata corporation whose by-law restricted the height and weight of pets permitted in the strata. Prior to adopting an Australian Shepherd puppy from the SPCA, the unit owner asked one of the Strata Council members to provide a written approval to the SPCA indicating that a dog was permitted. (The pet owner himself was, at the time, a member of the Strata Council). As the puppy grew, it exceeded the Strata’s size restrictions and the owner was asked to permanently remove the dog from the property. Although the signed approval did not indicate the size of the dog, the unit owner took the position that this signed approval by one member of the Strata Council amounted to an authorized exemption from the size restriction by-law.
In response to the unit owner’s subsequent request for a formal exemption, the Strata Council determined that the pet size restriction was a somewhat controversial topic and a resolution was put forward at a meeting of owners to remove the size restriction. Forty-two of the 59 owners who attended the meeting voted against the proposed amendment. After that meeting, the Strata Council then advised the pet owner that as the dog was in breach of the strata’s by-laws, the dog had to be removed. Failure to do so would result in a fine of $200.00 that would continue to accrue for each seven day period the dog remained on the property. (While fines are permitted in British Columbia, the Condominium Act (Ontario) has no provision that permits a condominium corporation to fine non-compliant owners.)
If you have wanted a detailed list cataloguing the differences between owning a home and owning a condominium you are in luck! Denise Lash recently presented to a large group at an HSBC event on the Differences Between Owning a House and Owning a Condominium.
Key topics of the presentation included:
- Title / Ownership
- Operation / Management
- Compliance with Laws and Regulations
- Noise Issues
- Move In / Move Out
- Reserve Fund
The presentation also included the following review sheets and checklists:
- Condominium Governing Documents Review Sheet
- New Condominium - Legal Considerations Checklist
- Resale Condominium - Legal Considerations Checklist
Please visit the Condo Reporter Seminars page to review our up-and-coming events. Please click here to register for our next seminar titled Battle of the Proxies: Everything a Condominium Corporation Needs to Know About Proxies! The session will be held atHeenan Blaikie's Toronto office located at 333 Bay Street, 29th Floor. You may also participate via Live Stream by simply logging onto www.condoreporter.com. Prior registration is required to view the Live Stream.
Denise Lash was interviewed for an article in the Toronto Sun which discusses two cases in which condo owners and residents faced legal trouble after avoiding complaints from their condominium boards.
In "Condo Battles can be Costly" Denise advises owners to not only comply with the rules and regulations for the building they reside in, but to also respond to compliance letters on a timely basis. She also warns owners that if the a case goes to court and a decision is made in the condominium corporation's favour, that, just like in the two instances discussed in the article, most likely the owner will have to pay legal fees incurred by the corporation.
In the case of pet owners who have faced complaints about their pets as nuisances, Denise says that in order to avoid potential conflicts with their condo board and/or residents of the building, owners should be reviewing the condominium documentation before they purchase.
(Photo by Alex Consiglio for the Toronto Sun)
Although condominium ownership allows one to own a portion of a larger piece of property, the unit owner does not have the same freedoms with respect to that property as would be had in the case of a detached, freehold residential dwelling. The condominium unit owner is required to abide by the rules of the corporation that have been created for the purpose of preventing unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of the common elements, the units or the assets of the corporation. While enjoying one's own unit, such enjoyment is not to be at the expense of interfering with the use and enjoyment of the other owners in the condominium community.
While many condominium corporations allow pets in the condominium, owners must comply with the rules regarding pets. If a unit owner breaches the rules, the unit owner runs the risk that the pet will be declared a nuisance animal and be required to be permanently removed from the property. This is what happened in the case of York Condominium Corporation No. 26 and Ramadani.
The unit owner permitted her dog to go out on the 2nd-floor balcony where it barked at passers-by and urinated, with the result that the urine flowed over onto the patio of the unit immediately below.
Denise Lash was interviewed for the feature article “Designing the Rules” in the June / July issue of CondoBusiness Magazine. Denise discusses the importance of communication between condo board members and new condo owners and the differences some people face transitioning into the condominium lifestyle – which is not as seamless as some new buyers might think. She also provides advice on how to improve the communication between new owners and condo board members.
You can read the article in the digital version (pages 16-20) on their website.
Bedbugs or dog sniffer. Which would you prefer in your condo? For one condo owner, having a dog which sniffs out bed bugs, was too much for him to handle in his no dog building, even though Scout, a Black Labrador-Border Collie mix was trained and used for the specific purpose of getting rid of bedbugs in his condominium building. Christopher Parker sued the Association and its board for permitting Scout to reside with one board member, citing that the board should have carried out a vote of the owners to propose a change to the rules which currently prohibit dogs.
Most condo corporations have rules that state that pets are not permitted to soil on the Corporation's property and owners must clean up after their pets. Despite rules like this, dog poop is often found on condo properties, particularly in the winter months when the short daylight hours enable offending pet owners to breach these rules "under cover of darkness".
The Toronto Star recently reported about a service being offered to US condo associations to identify delinquent owners. PooPrints is a dog identification service that maintains a private dog DNA data base for each property, so that any dog poop found on the property can be matched with the culprit. Dog owners are required to register their pets with management, pay the registration fee and provide their dog's DNA sample by way of a cheek swab. When management finds poop on the property a sample is sent to the lab in Tennessee to indentify the offending dog from the condo's dog database. The cost of the lab analysis is charged to the owner of the unit in which the dog resides. PooPrints also provides a unique pet identification tag for each dog to wear on its collar so that it is easy for management to confirm if a dog has been registered.
Ryan Treleaven, an associate in Heenan Blaikie's Condominium Law Group has written an interesting article in the latest issue of CM (Condominium Manager) Magazine, published by the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario (ACMO), on a case involving a condominium owner who was forced to sell their home. Ryan provides some thought on how other owners can navigate matters surrounding compliance. Here is a snippet:
In MTCC 747, Justice Code held that if an Application ‘substantially concerns’ alleged breaches of the Act, the requirement to pursue mediation is not triggered. This means that in appropriate circumstances, a Condominium may proceed directly to Court while relying on the provisions of the Act, its Declaration, Bylaws and Rules. In these circumstances, even if the Corporation fails to establish a violation of the Act, the Court may grant a compliance order restraining ongoing violations of the Declaration, Bylaws or Rules.
It is only in rare cases that a condominium should consider proceeding directly to court to obtain a compliance order. The vast majority of compliance matters can be efficiently(and cost effectively) resolved through mediation.
You can read the rest of the article here.
The courts have held that prohibitions or restrictions on the number and kind of animals that are contained in condominium corporations declarations are valid. This means that condo developers (or their lawyers, perhaps?) who are drafting these documents, are making those important decisions for the future residents. The declaration is prepared long before any structure is built and before the units are even offered for sale. Although the developer may gear its marketing to certain types of purchasers (e.g. first time buyers, empty nesters, etc) often not much thought is given to some of the lifestyle issues such as, what pet provisions a community should have.
A board member of a condominium corporation recently forwarded me an interesting article from the New York Post about Charlie, the adorable 3.5 pound Yorkie whose owner was taken to court by the condominium association of a 24 unit development in Queens, New York.
The board of directors of this association had tried to get the owner, Donna Forman, to remove her previous dog, a Shih Tzu, named Rugby, and commenced an action in February 2001. During the court process and before the decision was rendered, the dog died. Donna then went on to replace Rugby with Charlie and attempted to get the consent of the board. The board refused based on its no pets policy. The board then commenced further proceedings under a separate action to have Charlie removed.