A recent Ontario court decision provides the condominium industry with some helpful clarification regarding email addresses and record-keeping. Specifically, a unit owner’s email address that is held in a condominium corporation’s records is not to be disclosed as part of the owner’s address for service.
On April 20, 2016, Deputy Judge Whitehall, Q.C., released his Small Claims Court decision in Hui Wu v Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 383.
The condominium, in this case, had a practice of obtaining an owner’s email address and consent (from those owners willing to provide it) in order to send the condominium’s official communications by email.
The plaintiff made a request to the condominium for access to the “address for service” of all owners. The condominium responded by providing the plaintiff with the mailing address of each owner (i.e. the address for service kept in the condominium’s records). The plaintiff was not satisfied, and ultimately commenced a court claim to force the condominium to disclose the email addresses of unit owners that were maintained in the condominium’s records.
The court held that owners’ email addresses are not part of the address for service that must be disclosed within the meaning of section 55 of the Condominium Act.
In arriving at this conclusion, the court considered the interplay between certain relevant sections of the Condominium Act.
As our readers may know, section 55(1)(6) requires a condominium to produce the records kept under section 47(2); that is, the owner’s names and addresses for service. The condominium in this case complied with its obligation under section 47(2) by keeping a record of the names and mailing addresses of owners, separate and apart from a record of any email addresses.
Notably, section 47(7) allows for a notice to an owner to be sent either to the mailing address listed in the condominium’s records or by email, if an email address has been provided (and if the owner consents).
So, the question arises: can a unit owner’s email address be considered their address for service under section 47(2)? And, if so, must that email address be disclosed under section 55?
Again, this decision confirms the answer is no. A condominium corporation can send a notice by email to those owners who have consented to receipt of that notice by email communication. However, email addresses do not form part of the official records kept under section 47(2) of unit owner’s addresses for service. As such, email addresses should not be disclosed to other unit owners (or any third party) that request access to such records (without consent).
Our readers in the condominium industry are welcome to contact our Condominium Law Group with any questions about the potential impact of this court decision.