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CAUSES OF CONDO DISPUTES AND OPTIONS TO RESOLVE THEM

Our Latest Book

In a condominium community, there is always a possibility of having a problem or a dispute that may not be able to be resolved quickly and easily. It is important to know your rights and options in that event. I will cover the most common types of disputes and the means of resolving them.

Problems tend to fall into the following general categories:

The Six P’s: Pets, Parking, Parties, People, Personalities and Politics

The six P’s tend to be the most common areas of annoyance. Common complaints are: Pets are noisy, roaming, scaring children, or fouling the common property. Parking spaces are being used by members or guests in a consistently selfish and irresponsible fashion. People and parties are too loud for too long at too-late hours. Personalities may become a problem because of the close proximity of the community environment; some owners get annoyed by people using or abusing the common elements, and some people have a tendency to irritate others by virtue of their attitude, arrogance, indifference, or discourtesy. Another P is Politics. That is, the condo board of directors is acting in an autocratic or unfair manner, in the perception of some owners.

Decisions of the Condominium Corporation or Board of Directors

Examples of disputes in this area are as follows: you believe that the conduct of the corporation or board of directors is oppressive and unfairly prejudicial to your rights; you believe that a decision relating to a special assessment was unnecessary and irresponsible; you were fined for allegedly breaching the bylaws or rules and regulations, and you believe the fine was unfair and unwarranted.

The 5 Common Ways that Condo Disputes can be Resolved

The means for the resolution of disputes, in ascending order of complexity, are negotiation, involvement by board of directors, mediation, arbitration, and litigation.

Negotiation

It is always best to attempt to resolve the dispute by discussing the matter directly with the person concerned. That may be all that is necessary to resolve the problem. It is worthwhile to at least attempt that first step.

Council involvement

If the first step is not successful, you may wish to contact the condominium board of directors and make a complaint to them in writing outlining your dispute. If the conduct of another owner has contravened the bylaws or rules and regulations, it would be helpful to draw those points to the attention of the board of directors. The board of directors has the authority in most cases to deal with infringements of the bylaws or rules and regulations, or can seek legal advice.

Mediation

This option may be built into the condo bylaws. It would generally involve a professional mediator or condominium lawyer performing that role of attempting to facilitate a mutually agreeable resolution. The purpose is to hear both sides of the issue and try to come to some pragmatic and constructive resolution that is a workable compromise. Mediation is non-binding.

Arbitration

If your attempts to have a dispute resolved through using the condominium board of directors have not been successful, you may wish to consider arbitration. Condominium legislation of most provinces sets out the procedures for the arbitration process. Normally, the process is not available if litigation has commenced. Matters that may require arbitration include disputes about contributions to common expenses; fines for breach of bylaws or rules and regulations; damages to common elements, common facilities, and other assets of the condominium corporation; and decisions of the board of directors or the corporation.

The parties should agree on a single arbitrator, but if that is not possible, each party selects its own arbitrator and the two arbitrators select a third who acts as a chairman. Unless the parties otherwise agree, the arbitrator is normally a professional arbitrator. The arbitrators may accept evidence under oath and may make whatever decision they consider just and equitable. The arbitrator’s decision is entered into court as if it was an order of the court. The process just described is a common procedure set out in many provincial Condominium Acts, although the procedures may vary in individual provinces.

A list of arbitrators is available upon request from most professional condominium management companies.

Litigation

If all else fails, you have rights in common law, as well as under most provincial condominium legislation, to commence action in court. You can proceed against a condominium corporation or board of director to rectify what you believe is a failure to meet their obligations under the Condominium Act or bylaws, or because you feel that actions toward you have been oppressive. The court can make any order it considers appropriate depending on the circumstances.

The difficulty in the litigation process, of course, is the fact that it can be very expensive, stressful, uncertain, and lengthy. If you have a problem that you are concerned about and want to decade whether you should go the arbitration or the litigation route, you should seek a legal opinion from a lawyer who specializes in condominium law. Ideally it would be helpful to obtain a second opinion from another lawyer who specializes in condominium law in order to satisfy yourself that the advice you are getting and intend to rely on is consistent.

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Copyright © 2021 , Douglas Gray, LL.B. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of the material contained in this website is strictly prohibited. E&OE (Errors and Omissions Excepted). Please refer to Copyright and Disclaimer at bottom of website page. Refer to Books section for related information.

 

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