Specific Legal Issues
February, 10 2022 Published by Grand River Chapter
Unit Owners’ Responsibility for their Occupants:
December 2021, York C.C. No 188 v. Caudhry, et al, 2021 ONSC 7027; & York Region C.C. No. 794 v. Watson, et al, 2021 ONSC 6574
Incessant and harassing emails, phone calls, and intimidating and threatening behaviour are all too common for condominium boards and property managers. In York C.C. No. 188 v. Chaudhry, et al, and York Region C.C. No. 794 v. Watson, et al, the Courts dealt with situations where this type of behaviour needed to be addressed and determined that these actions amounted to “dangerous activities” under section 117 of the Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Act’).
In both cases the units were occupied by the owners’ adult children. The boards and property managers were bombarded by emails, voicemails, faxes. and confronted personally by the occupants, including threats of physical violence. The occupants relentlessly accused the boards and property managers of racism, plotting criminal activities, fraud, and other false conduct. This was considered intimidating, harassing, and threatening by the condominiums.
The owners/parents of the occupants received multiple notices from the condominiums, counsel, and the police, regarding the conduct of the occupants. Despite this, the owners did not take appropriate steps to curtail the behaviour and even appeared to further the campaign. The respective condominiums were required to commence compliance applications in Court, seeking orders to curtail this egregious behaviour.
The Courts’ Findings
The Courts noted that condominiums are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that that the owners and occupiers comply with the Act, including preventing harassing conduct. The Courts also found that incessant harassing correspondence amounted to dangerous activities, as the behaviour of the occupants was likely to cause injury to an individual. “Injury”, can include, “psychological harm that is beyond a trifling nature.” This type of behaviour, specifically when directed at a property manager, may also trigger the Occupation Health and Safety Act, as property managers are entitled to a safe and harassment-free work environment. The conduct of the occupants in the present cases is a clear example of such.
The Courts ordered the occupants to vacate the units and cease all communications with the condominiums and their property managers. Such a remedy is powerful and reserved only for the most serious of instances.
Regarding the owners, the Courts noted that section 119(2) of the Act provides that the owners themselves are responsible for taking all reasonable steps to ensure that their occupants comply. Neither owner took reasonable steps to ensure this, if any at all. As a result significant costs were awarded to the condominiums and were added to the common expenses payable for the owners’ units.
Where an owner/occupant will not stop harassing and intimidating others, including incessant and threatening correspondence, the Courts have determined such is a dangerous activity, and condominiums have remedies available to them. This kind of unwarranted behaviour can amount to “psychological harm” and includes inflammatory and harassing emails and phone calls.
For those unit owners who own units occupied by problematic, and even dangerous occupants, these cases highlight the positive obligation on owners to assist in curtailing the behaviour. Failure to take appropriate and reasonable actions may lead to significant cost consequences. Unit owners cannot simply allow their unit to be occupied by others and wash their hands of any responsibility.
Are you facing a similar situation? Contact your condominium legal team today.
Christopher Mendes, Associate, B.A. (Hons), M.A., J.D.
*This article does not constitute legal advice, always consult legal counsel.
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