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Condo boards ensure all residents and board members comply with the Condo Act and the condo’s governing documents. But what happens when residents break the rules? Here we look at the role of the condo board in enforcing condo rules and bylaws.
What is the Difference Between Rules and Bylaws?
Condo rules “promote the safety of owners and prevent unreasonable interference to the use and enjoyment of the units as well as common elements.” The board ensures that members of the condo corporation follow the rules and comply with the things they can and cannot do. The bylaws are more administrative in nature, applying to condo corporation governance. They relate to things such as the board meeting process and how the board conducts condo corporation business.
How Does the Condo Act Impact Rule Enforcement?
The Condo Act regulates condo corporations, with rules outlining what Condo governing documents can and cannot enforce. It tells condo boards how to create and amend their governing documents ensuring they comply with the Condo Act and don’t introduce rules that contradict the condo corporation’s by-laws, declaration, or the Condo Act. For example, the Condo Act prohibits occupants from causing an “unreasonable nuisance, annoyance, or disruption.” This is regardless of the condo corporation’s governing documents.
How are the Governing Documents Enforced?
Anything that impacts an individual’s enjoyment of their unit is considered non-compliance. When a compliance issue arises, the board determines a) that there is a compliance issue and b) how to resolve it. Action should be taken immediately to ensure the person causing the issue understands that their behaviour is non-compliant. Communication is key, as is having a process to enforce governing documents.
Condo boards should take the following steps to resolve issues:
- In the case of a complaint, acknowledge the complaint immediately and let the complainant know action will be taken.
- Determine if the person accused of creating the issue is at fault.
- If the person is not at fault, determine who is causing the issue.
- Once the person is identified, inform the resident that they are responsible for complying with the governing documents and provide examples of when they are alleged to have been non-compliant.
- Follow up with the complainant to ensure the issue has been resolved.
If the issue is not resolved, the board should enlist the assistance of their legal counsel and take the following steps:
- Send a follow-up letter from the condo corporation’s legal counsel informing the occupant that they are not complying, and that further action will be taken if the issue is not resolved by a specific date.
- If the letter does not resolve the issue, your legal counsel can determine whether the case falls under the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) jurisdiction. If so, you can file a complaint with CAT to help resolve the dispute. The issues managed by CAT include the enforcement of declarations, by-laws, and condo rules.
Most non-CAT issues are resolved in private mediation or arbitration under section 132 (4) of the Condo Act. However, if your lawyers determine the issue is an oppression and compliance matter, the next step is taking the case to the Superior Court of Justice.
Communication and ensuring residents understand their obligations under the Condo Act and governing documents can help reduce the number of issues that arise.
A property management company can help manage complaints, resolve issues, and recommend when legal counsel is required. CPO Management Inc, a Toronto property management company specializing in condo management services, is here to help. We support condo boards across the GTA, help avoid conflict, and effectively deal with disputes. For more information, reach out to us today.