CCI – ACMO Ottawa Conference and Trade Show – May 29, 2015

The Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI) and Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario (ACMO) Ottawa Conference and Trade Show is taking place on Friday, May 29, 2015 at the Ottawa Conference & Event Centre located at 200 Coventry Road. Lawyer Jim Davidson will be speaking on the Legal Panel.

The conference theme is ‘Preparing for Change,’ and will feature industry experts from various law firms, management companies, trades and developers. These experts will discuss relevant and timely issues of interest to condominium property managers, boards of directors and home owners.

The program includes topics such as:

  • Property manager and board member roles
  • Engineering issues
  • Fire safety systems
  • Condo Act updates and licensing managers
  • Legal issues

The cost of the Conference is $75 +HST, which includes goodies, handouts, lunch and the sessions.

Don’t miss out! For more details or to register, please visit the CCI Ottawa Website.

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Employment Issues with Live-in Superintendents

Not happy with the performance of your live-in superintendent? In such circumstances can a condominium corporation simply dismiss its superintendent and hire a new employee to immediately move into the unit?

The short answer is no. Before taking any steps to dismiss a live-in superintendent, a condominium Board must consider various factors, including the following, to ensure the lawfulness of its actions.

1. Do the performance deficiencies amount to “just cause” for dismissal enabling termination of the superintendent’s employment without notice or compensation? 

Although the courts assess every case on its merits, a judicial finding of “just cause” for dismissal is infrequent, and is generally made only in cases where the employee has committed a very serious transgression, such as fraud. Moreover, if an employer’s allegation of cause is later determined by the courts to be unfounded, the employer has exposure to additional liability for any related harm caused to the employee by a failed assertion of cause.

2. Is there is a health issue that may be underlying the performance deficiencies?

If so, then further medical information should be obtained to determine whether the reasonable accommodation of an identified disability must be made, in compliance with the corporation’s obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Employers who refuse to accommodate disabled employees by, for example, granting the employee a leave of absence to recover from a serious illness, will not be well placed to successfully defend against a human rights application. The damages awarded for a discriminatory firing may be extensive, so proceed with caution whenever there is a suspected health issue.

3. Is there an employment contract in place that is legally binding? Does the contract stipulate the period of notice or compensation in lieu of notice that must be provided at the time of termination and, if so, does the termination clause meet the minimum requirements prescribed under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act?

A contract that does not comply with the Employment Standards Act will not be upheld by the courts. In the absence of a binding written contract, a dismissed superintendent will be entitled to statutory notice of termination of up to 8 weeks, or the equivalent value of the salary, accrued vacation pay, and continued benefits through that period.

The employee may have additional entitlements under the common law to reasonable notice of dismissal or compensation in lieu of reasonable notice. In determining the common law reasonable notice period, courts consider a number of factors including the employee’s age, level of position, length of employment, and any recruitment issues. The corporation’s obligation to compensate is subject to the employee’s obligation to mitigate any loss by securing alternative employment.

4. Can the corporation insist that the superintendent vacate the unit upon dismissal?

Unique to the situation of live-in superintendents is the legislated right of a condominium corporation under the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act to require the live-in superintendent to vacate the unit one week following a termination of employment. Once a decision has been made to terminate the employment of a live-in superintendent, it is usually best to have the residential unit vacated as soon as legally permissible. However, the compensation payable to a dismissed superintendent must include the value of the superintendent’s loss of the live-in residential unit, pro-rated over the statutory and/or common law notice periods, as applicable.

5. How may a condominium corporation best protect itself proactively against liability?

It is recommended that prior to hiring any new superintendent the Board have him/her sign a letter of offer and Employment Agreement containing clauses drafted to limit the corporation’s liability in the event of a termination of employment. To ensure the Agreement’s legally binding effect, new hires must be given the opportunity to seek legal advice before signing, and the document must be signed before the job commences and before any work is performed.

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Deadline for Carbon Monoxide Requirements for Condos with Six Units or Less was April 15, 2015 – Is Your Condo Compliant?

The mandatory carbon monoxide (‘CO’) enforcement deadline for condos and other residential buildings with six units or less in Ontario was April 15, 2015. All affected condos must now be compliant.

The CO requirements came into effect with a new regulation that updated Ontario’s Fire Code on October 15, 2014. However, the regulation included phase in periods for the requirements, depending on the size of the building. For larger residential buildings with more than six units, the deadline to comply with the new CO requirements is October 15, 2015.

You can learn more about the requirements in our November 6, 2014 blog, ‘New Requirements for Carbon Monoxide Detectors’. You can also find more information on the website of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs and the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services website.

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Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI) Ottawa Spring Directors’ Course – April 18 and 19, 2015

The Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI) Ottawa Chapter Spring Directors’ Course will be taking place on April 18 and 19, 2015 at the Hellenic Meeting and Reception Centre, located at 1315 Prince of Wales Drive. This comprehensive and practical course covers key requirements of Ontario’s Condominium Act, and equips condominium directors, professionals and owners with a better understanding of the way condominiums function. Our lawyers Nancy Houle and James Davidson will be speaking at the course.

Topics will include:

  • What is a Condo/Overview of the Condominium Act
  • Status Certificates/Changes to Common Elements/Insurance
  • Reserve Fund Planning
  • Property Management
  • Finance 101
  • Audit Process
  • Effective Directors
  • Experts Panel – Question Forum

For more details or to register, please visit the CCI Ottawa Website.

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New Requirements Under the Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation

On July 1, 2014, a new regulation came into force under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, entitled Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training. This regulation requires employers to ensure that workers (who perform work for the employer) complete a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program.

Amendments to the Regulation come into force today (April 1, 2015), which provide for an additional training requirement on employers of workers who are required to use certain methods of fall protection. These employers must ensure that the worker has completed a working at heights training program and that the validity period of the training has not expired. Could your condominium be affected by these additional training requirements?

Condominiums should review this regulation and the requirements to determine whether they could be considered an “employer”. If there is a possibility that the Corporation could be an employer, it should ensure that it verifies all workers have undergone the required training.

[Note: The working at heights training is valid for three years from the date of successful completion of the training program.]

For more information visit the Ontario Ministry of Labour website.

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