Many condominiums have a superintendent who resides, as part of their employment contract, in a suite owned by the condominium (or which is part of the common elements, controlled by the corporation). As the employer, the condominium corporation should be aware of some key issues that shape this role and will affect the decision making process in the hiring and termination of a live-in superintendent.
1. Your condominium corporation is an employer and the superintendent is an employee
You may or may not have a written employment contract. Ideally you should have a written contract to clearly define the employment terms. Even without a written contract, there is still an employment relationship that triggers many legal responsibilities that come with being an employer. In Ontario, the employment relationship with your superintendent is governed by the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) and the common law. The relationship is also defined by the terms of the employment contract. Key legal requirements to be aware of as an employer include termination obligations, hours of work, and vacation time and pay.
2. Human rights and workplace safety
An employee has human rights protection from discrimination under the Human Rights Code in Ontario. An employer also has mandatory obligations to prevent workplace violence and harassment under health and safety legislation. These protections exist at the employee’s workplace, which in the case of a live-in superintendent, is the condominium property. Anyone with whom a superintendent has to interact at the condominium should be aware of the condominium corporation’s policies against workplace discrimination, harassment and violence. If the board of directors or management receives notice from an employee about experiencing discrimination, harassment or violence, immediate action will be required.
3. An improper termination can lead to wrongful dismissal/human rights claims
If your condominium corporation is considering terminating its employment relationship with a superintendent, the board of directors should obtain professional advice on the proper methods for doing so, including best practices for conducting a termination meeting, the law regarding termination pay and notice requirements, and how to best protect the condominium corporation from a wrongful dismissal or human rights claim by the terminated employee.
4. What if the former superintendent will not vacate the suite?
If you are ending your employment relationship with a live in superintendent, and intend to hire a new live in superintendent, be aware that if the outgoing superintendent does not vacate the suite as required under the Residential Tenancies Act, it might take weeks to obtain an eviction order at the Landlord and Tenant Board, and then enforce that order. Be cautious about promising a date for living accommodations under a new contract for an incoming superintendent unless you are confident that the former superintendent will have moved out by the date specified at the time of dismissal.