The Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) is celebrating its fifth year of operation. In this five-part series, Toronto Condo News looks at how CAO and the Condominium Authority Tribunal have impacted on condominium living and management, and present an inside-view of what it is like to appear before the Tribunal.
February 2023 – Fairness and Justice in Condominium Communities
March 2023 – What they Don’t Want you to Know – Lurking behind their closed door
April 2023 – Making a Successful CAT Submission
May 2023 – Calling for the Expansion of CAT
June 2023 – Condo Disputes without CAT
What does one mean when it comes to ensuring fairness and justice in condominium communities? Since both the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) and Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT or Tribunal) are arbiters of fairness, and determine the relationship between condominium corporations and condo owners, defining fairness and justice is necessary to evaluate their effectiveness.
The first day of class for a legal studies course provides clarity to this question as we sit in on the class.
Dr. Joerg Storm of Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany posted on LinkedIn a story about a student kicked out of their first legal studies university lecture meant to explain fairness and justice.
The professor enters the lecture hall. He looks around.
“You there in the 8th row. Can you tell me your name?” he asks a student.
“My name is Sandra” says a voice.
The professor asks her, “Please leave my lecture hall. I don’t want to see you in my lecture.”
Everyone is quiet. The student is irritated, slowly packs her things and stands up.
“Faster please” she is asked.
She doesn’t dare to say anything and leaves the lecture hall.
The professor keeps looking around. The participants are scared.
“Why are there laws?” he asks the group.
All quiet. Everyone looks at the others.
“What are laws for?” he asks again.
“Social order” is heard from a row.
A student says “To protect a person’s personal rights.”
Another says “So that you can rely on the state.”
The professor is not satisfied.
“Justice” calls out a student.
The professor smiling. She has his attention.
“Thank you very much. Did I behave unfairly towards your classmate earlier?”
“Indeed I did. Why didn’t anyone protest?
Why didn’t any of you try to stop me?
Why didn’t you want to prevent this injustice?” he asks.
“What you just learned you wouldn’t have understood in 1,000 hours of lectures if you hadn’t lived it. You didn’t say anything just because you weren’t affected yourself. This attitude speaks against you and against life. You think as long as it doesn’t concern you, it’s none of your business. I’m telling you, if you don’t say anything today and don’t bring about justice, then one day you too will experience injustice and no one will stand before you. Justice lives through us all. We have to fight for it.”
You think as long as it doesn’t concern you, it’s none of your business. I’m telling you, if you don’t say anything today and don’t bring about justice, then one day you too will experience injustice and no one will stand before you.
CAO and CAT take a long-term view to ensuring fairness and justice in condominium communities. CAT establishes standards by publishing all decisions for others to review, then relies on them to decide on similar concerns. As with all organizations, mistakes will be made and corrected as part of the learning process. Both organizations, still in their infancy, have already proven their value in bettering condominium living and management in Ontario.
Condominium owners and residents appearing before the Tribunal are no longer at a financial disadvantage nor fear lawyers representing the corporation when there is a dispute. CAO and CAT have restored a degree of balance to the relationship.
CAO and CAT exist to ensure a basic level of communication, and protect condominium owners and residents against abuses where they otherwise may not feel they have recourse. In this they have succeeded.
Despite whatever flaws and failures exist in condominium governance, there is importance and value to what Condominium Authority of Ontario and Condominium Authority Tribunal offer to condominium living and management in Ontario.