Living in communities with shared walls can create disputes. Maybe your neighbours are too loud, or fail to respect the condo bylaws and rules. Perhaps you are regularly forced to deal with smells you find offensive. What do you do when you run into problems?
Joan loves to cook. Her cooking smells migrate to her neighbour, Janice, who doesn’t feel she should smell other people’s cooking in her home. The problem persisted for months. She complained to the condominium manager and wrote letters to management, the board and her neighbour. Janice considered hiring a lawyer but that would have cost thousands of dollars – more if she had to go to court. Selling her condo to avoid these odours is unnecessarily extreme.
There are more than 31,000 condo complexes in British Columbia. British Columbia’s Civil Resolution Tribunal offers an online tribunal for handling these types of disputes. It provides information to resolve disputes and appoints a mediator if necessary. The mediator looks at evidence, and the law, and reaches a legally binding decision. The Civil Resolution Tribunal is a recent alternative to costly litigation in British Columbia. It has handled about 1,000 condo complaints covering condo issues and has resolved more than half.
With so many Torontonians living in close quarters, a similarly broad approach is necessary. The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), similar to what exists in British Columbia, has been available in Ontario since early in 2018. It was promoted as a way to deal with all types of condo-related disputes. Thus far it has limited itself to accepting records-related complaints. CAT is reported to have produced 14 rulings and heard a few hundred complaints based on a November 2018 presentation to condominium managers and property management companies. In a market far larger than British Columbia, this is a surprising low number of complaints and rulings considering the “claimed” volume of problems in condo communities that precipitated creation of this tribunal.
No information is available about when CAT will begin hearing disputes about the majority of non-records-related disputes.