Important Changes to the Condo Act
New Condo Act Changes - What They Mean for You
More amendments are coming to the Condominium Act, 1998 and they take effect on January 1, 2022. Like the modifications made in October of 2020, the new condo act changes see the jurisdiction of the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) once again expanding.
What is the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT)?Simply put, the CAT is an online tribunal that is dedicated to resolving and deciding condominium related disputes in Ontario. The goal of the online resolution system is to help people resolve their disputes quickly, conveniently and affordably.
What are the New Condo Act Changes?
This new set of amendments are directed towards addressing “nuisance”. Specifically, these new condo act changes will result in revisions to section 117 of the act that will prohibit a person from:
- causing, through an act or omission, conditions or activities in the condominium units, common elements or assets that are likely to damage the property or the assets or cause an injury or an illness to an individual;
- carrying on or permitting activities in the units, common elements or assets if the activity (ies) results in the creation of the continuation of (a) any unreasonable noise that is a nuisance, annoyance, or disruption to an individual in a unit, the common elements or the assets or (b) any other prescribed nuisance, annoyance or disruption to an individual in a unit, the common elements or the assets.
A Closer Look at the Prescribed NuisancesOdours
Concerns regarding unpleasant odours are a common condo issue. Living in a condo means sometimes encountering smells that can travel between units and common areas and are often caused by someone else’s behaviour or the design of the building. Examples of common odour issues that would fall within this new amendment include:
- Odours caused by neighbouring units like cooking smells or smells from burning fragrant candles or incense
- Odours caused by the operation of shared elements such as garbage chutes
Unwelcome smoke & vapour is a common nuisance for many condo corporations as it can easily travel between units and in shared areas. Examples of smoke and vapour issues include:
- The smoke from tobacco, cannabis, or other substances seeping through from another unit that an owner or occupant may be using
- Fire pits, barbeques, gas-powered machinery or other sources of smoke and vapour in the common elements entering an owner or occupant’s unit
When unwanted or uncontrollable levels of brightness enter a unit from outside sources, issues can arise. Quality and intensity of lighting in common areas can also be cause for concern. Examples of light issues include:
- Excessive or flickering lights that stream into a unit from another unit or common elements
- Streetlights that are too bright, or light from building signs that seep into a unit
- Insufficient lighting in parking or storage areas
Unwanted noise or vibrations are one of the most common issues in condo communities. Often caused by someone else’s behaviour, or the design of the building, noise or vibrations may be heard and felt from neighbouring units or common areas. Examples of noise and vibration issues include:
- Vibrations caused by the operation of common elements, such as elevators, garbage chutes, HVAC or plumbing systems
- Vibrations coming from another unit, caused by bass from speakers, heavy walking, moving furniture or the use of power tools
- Noises coming from neighbouring units such as shouting, loud music or television
In addition to the amendments made in 2020, two unproclaimed sections of the Condominium Act came into effect to ensure that the individuals involved with disputes that are intended to be resolved by the CAT go to the CAT to resolve their disputes, rather than to the courts, or to mediation and arbitration, as applicable.
What it Means
As a condominium corporation, you will need to be prepared to defend against these types of complaints at the CAT, but there are steps that can be taken before it reaches that point. The Condominium Authority of Ontario offers a variety of resources to assist you address common complaints and navigate the process of resolving these types of issues.
Working to Solve Common Issues
It is in everyone’s best interest to resolve common issues in a collaborative matter, the CAT should be a last resort. It’s important that all owners and occupants know the by-laws and rules of their condo corporation so they can reference them to ensure they are lodging a valid complaint. In some cases, issues may arise that fall outside of the condo’s jurisdiction so municipal by-laws may have to be reviewed. An example of something that would fall outside of a condo’s responsibilities, is excessive light coming from an offsite source.
If an owner or occupant is causing or contributing to an issue, or a complaint received from another tenant about a neighbour, the first step is to contact that person directly. They may be unaware that they are causing a nuisance so speaking to them directly may quickly solve the problem.
Should direct contact or having meetings with all parties involved not end with a solution, it may be time to look at your legal options. If a case is filled with the CAT, a notice will be delivered to all parties within a week of the filing. A negotiation would follow where all users work together to resolve the dispute. If the dispute cannot beresolved in stage one, a mediation with a CAT mediator would follow. If a solution does not come from stage two, the CAT would hold an online hearing one to two months after the initial filing.
With only a few months left before these new condo act changes take effect, now is the time to review your own corporation’s rules and by-laws so you have a better understanding of how these new prescribed nuisances may impact your community and be better prepared for addressing common issues moving forward.