December 2020

Today’s crowded urban environment gives people ample opportunity to feel harassed.  It is only when harassment crosses a line that it becomes reasonable to ask that it be curtailed.  In condo living, knowing when this line has been crossed depends on the situation.

Harassment is the intent to harass, annoy or alarm another individual in a public place

Harassment is the intent to harass, annoy or alarm another individual in a public place.  It becomes actionable when a person is subjected to unwelcome physical or verbal actions and motivated by an “improper purpose”.  In school settings this may be called “bullying”.

Persistent and heated communications that a recipient feels is threatening or defamatory is one form of harassment when it occurs in common areas of a building.  Some may consider the same actions nothing more than a nuisance.

Condo boards have authority to deal with harassment when it occurs in common areas of a condo community, actions are clear and improper, and of “improper purpose”.  Regulating behavior to prevent people from screaming and yelling at neighbours fall within their authority.

Harassment is subjective. What one calls harassment may be nothing more than conversation to another.  Matters of harassment are clearer when they rise to the level of discrimination or personal threat and supported by proof.

Harassment can come in many forms. A board member may fail to enforce governing documents equally by targeting an individual and enforcing rules on them but not others.  An owner may harass a condo board by filing constant complaints without substantiation or constantly insisting the board grant certain exemptions from rules.

Condo boards should avoid getting involved in personal disputes and accusations of harassment lacking documented proof, and which may be beyond their authority. When matters relate to enforcement of governing documents, condo boards are expected to treat all residents equally and avoid actions inconsistent with governing documents.  This can be a delicate balancing act.  Board action dealing with harassment can be warranted when there is proof of improper action.

Condo residents inevitably deal with people, practices and policies not always to their liking.  Some habits are annoying to others.  Disagreement among neighbours can be a regular occurrence.  Rarely does any of this constitute harassment nor is it legally actionable.  Most people prefer to be good neighbours and mean well by their actions regardless of how these actions are perceived.  Deciding that certain actions rise to the level of legal harassment is best determined with the assistance of legal counsel.