Errors in Status Certificates

The Condominium Act, 1998 [Section 76 (6)] says that a status certificate binds the corporation as against the person who obtains the certificate. But a recent Ontario Superior Court decision says that, in some circumstances, the impact of the status certificate may be limited.

In 1716243 Ontario Inc. v. Muskoka Standard Condo Corp. No. 54, the status certificate prepared by the condominium corporation had failed to include the monthly common expense amounts related to two parking units which formed part of the property the purchaser was acquiring.

Relying upon the status certificate, the purchaser refused to pay the monthly common expenses for the two parking units (in the amount of $168.04 per month). The purchaser maintained that he was not, and never would be, obligated to pay the monthly common expenses attributable to the parking spaces.

The Court found that the purchaser was entitled to rely upon the status certificate and its inaccuracy, but only until the end of the fiscal year for which it was prepared. The status certificate included the budget on which the common expense payments were set, but stated that a new budget could result in increases which were undetermined as of the date of the certificate. So, the purchaser was only entitled to avoid the common expenses (related to the parking units) during the fiscal year in which the status certificate had been issued.

The decision clarifies that status certificates sometimes won’t bind a condominium corporation beyond the year in which they were issued. At the same time, this decision emphasizes the importance of ensuring the accuracy of a status certificate.

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CCI-Ottawa Session: Living Well in a Condominium – What Every Condo Owner Needs to Know

Don’t miss out on your chance to attend the Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI) Ottawa on September 18, 2014! Christy Allen of Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP will be speaking.

This informative session will help condo owners understand condo rules and why they are in place, as well as the roles of condo managers, boards and owners. It will take place at 1315 Prince of Wales Drive (in the Adonis Room) at 6:30pm.

For more information, or to register visit: http://cci.ca/Ottawa/NEWS-EVENTS/PDF/Condo-Living-Sept2014R.pdf

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Recent Human Rights Decisions

Condominium corporations have a duty to accommodate a resident’s disability – to the point of undue hardship. But that doesn’t mean that accommodation is required in every case.

Two recent decisions of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal are good examples of cases where accommodation was not ordered – even though the resident suffered from a disability.

In Taite v. Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 91, a resident had a disability that limited his neck movement, causing him pain and affecting his mobility, particularly in colder weather. As a result, he claimed that he needed a large truck, and an outdoor parking space in which to park the truck (because his large truck could not fit into the condominium’s parking garage). The Tribunal dismissed his claim and said that the decision to drive the large truck was a “personal preference” rather than a true need.

In Robinson v. York Condominium Corporation No. 365, a resident suffered from electro-magnetic sensitivity, and claimed that changes made to the building’s security system had caused her suffering to increase. The Tribunal dismissed her claim because the evidence did not indicate that the changes to the security system had increased electro-magnetic radiation in any way that could have affected the Applicant’s symptoms.

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Does a Printed Name Have the Same Effect as a Name Signed in Cursive?

Section 46 of the Condominium Act, 1998 (the Act) sets out the requirements for a meeting requisition from owners, and requires, among other things, that the requisition document be signed by at least 15% of the owners. In the recent case of Hogan v. MTCC 595, the Court was required to determine whether or not printed names were sufficient to constitute ‘signatures’ for the purposes of section 46 of the Act.

The Court decided that the printed names were sufficient to meet the signature requirement. The judge found that the printed names clearly and unequivocally conveyed the intention of each of the individuals named on the requisition. There is no requirement in the Act that a requisition be ‘signed’ in cursive writing, and there was no concern respecting the authenticity of the printed names (i.e. there was no allegation that someone other than the named individual had printed his/her name).

This case does not address the issue of whether or not other forms of signatures – such as electronic signatures – might also be acceptable as a signature on a requisition form. Although this has not been tested in Court, there may be room for the argument that a ‘signature’ requirement could be satisfied by an electronic signature or even email confirmation – as long as the electronic signature or correspondence reliably identifies the individual ‘signing’.

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Mental Health Issues in Condominiums

When a resident appears to be suffering from a mental illness, this can raise concerns for other residents, as well as for the resident in question. Depending upon the specific circumstances, many possibilities may merit consideration, including:

  • Does the resident have family that might assist?
  • Is the resident receiving any assistance from social or health services?
  • Does it make sense to involve public authorities (such as the Police, Fire Department, Health Department, Municipal By-law Enforcement)?
  • Should steps be taken to have a Guardian appointed for the resident?

A resident with a mental health illness has a disability, which a condominium corporation must take reasonable steps to accommodate (“to the point of undue hardship”). But at the end of the day, the other residents are also entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of their homes. These interests can be difficult to balance.

If issues cannot be resolved by other means, a Court Application may provide a remedy. In such cases, it may also be necessary to arrange for appointment of a litigation guardian – usually the Public Guardian and Trustee – to navigate the Court process on behalf of the disabled resident. The recent case of York Condominium Corporation No. 301 v. James is one such example. In that case, the Public Guardian and Trustee was appointed as litigation guardian, and the Court subsequently ordered that the unit (owned by a resident with a mental illness) be vacated and sold.

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