The Condo Authority Tribunal is a new dispute resolution process for condo corporations. It seeks to simplify resolution of disputes. If the experience in British Columbia is to be repeated, it will also increase the number disputes that condo corporations will be required to defend. This represents additional time and legal expenditures not typically incorporated in condo budgets.
As condo corporations prepare budgets for their next fiscal year, they should plan for these added expenses.
British Columbia has over 30,000 condo corporations – called stratas in the province – housing over 1.5 million people. Last year the province implemented a Civil Resolution Tribunal to help resolve strata disputes without relying on the court system. Demand for its services has exceeded its capacity.
One thing that has become clear in that province is that an increasing amount of business within law firms is coming from strata disputes. Another is that condo communities are having difficulty balancing the interests of individual owners with that of the group. A single owner is able to oppose solutions that may be best for the community. The corporation must then choose between giving in to a single owner or spend time and money defending their decision at the tribunal.
A similar process is now in place for condo corporations, residents and owners in Ontario. The Condominium Authority of Ontario is assessing each condo unit at a current rate of $1 per month charged to the condo corporation. The Condo Authority Tribunal currently charges a $25 filing fee for each dispute, an additional $50 fee for a mediator approved by the tribunal, and an additional $125 if a dispute proceeds to formal adjudication and binding order. Condo corporations pay their own costs for preparing submissions and representation at the tribunal. These costs can be thousands or tens of thousands of dollars for each dispute.
As condo corporations establish budgets, many will need to significantly increase the amounts set aside for dealing with Condo Authority Tribunal disputes and legal expenses.