Mental Health Issues in Condominiums

April 2022

In any given year, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) reports that one in five Canadians will have a mental illness or addiction problem.  The likelihood management is required to deal with one or more mental health issues each year is high.

Failure to understand and properly deal with mental health issues in high-rise communities impacts on more people than other forms of housing.  Condo boards failing to properly deal with these issues can result in unnecessarily high costs and court proceedings.  Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, condo corporations have a legal obligation to accommodate individuals suffering from a disability; mental impairment or disorder, physical or developmental.  This obligation supersedes the corporation’s governing documents.  The corporation is required to obtain information about an individual’s disability to determine the best way to accommodate them.  For physical disabilities ramps and automatic door openers offer practical and reasonable solutions.  A regular cleaning service, paid for by the resident, may address a hoarding problem while eliminating fire and pest concerns.

A more intractable challenge is a resident incapable of caring for themself and without a family member or caregiver to assist.  This can pose a danger to the individual or other residents.  Corporations can be justified in obtaining a physician’s psychiatric assessment to determine if an individual’s accommodation is appropriate for their situation.  Psychiatric assessments for a resident suspected of having a mental disorder can be requested by a police officer or justice of the peace. (Mental Health Act sections 16 and 17.)  The purpose is to have a guardian assigned to manage an individual’s property which includes making decisions on their behalf.  If successful, the Office of the Pubic Guardian and Trustee is authorized to manage their property.  Without evidence that an individual’s mental health is relevant, courts have been reluctant to require they undergo a mental health examination.

While there are other ways to obtain a psychiatric assessment, these are generally avoided by condominium corporations since they require resident consent and agreement to pay costs.