Opposition Motion to give condo owners a place to go for negligence, unfair fees lost after debate.

By Staff

March 13th, 2023



Given that condominiums are going to be the form of of home ownership that is going to be what most of the people moving into new houses in the next decade the New Democrats thought it was time to push for a change in the legislation that governs condo.

This is what housing is going to look like for a lot of people. Owners want more protection – expecting government to change the rules.

NDP Housing critic and University–Rosedale MPP Jessica Bell has introduced a motion to expand the jurisdiction of the province’s Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), so that condo residents have a place to turn for issues like unfair condo fees or negligent building maintenance.

The motion was debated, the question was put to the Legislature and was lost on March 8.

“Ontario’s 1.3 million condo residents deserve to live in safe, well-maintained homes,” said Bell. “The failure of the Ford government to properly regulate Ontario’s condo sector means that currently, residents have nowhere to go but court with problems like unfair condo rules, poor maintenance of common spaces, or conflicts of interest with condo board governance.

“No resident should have to spend thousands of dollars taking a developer to court just to get an issue like a common room repaired. This bill gives them another place to turn.”

Bell discussed her bill at a press conference last week.  She was joined by NDP MPP Tom Rakocevic, critic for Consumer Protection, and condo owners living without heat and other amenities, and fighting unfair maintenance fees.

That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should expand the jurisdiction and enforcement power of the Condo Authority Tribunal so the tribunal can hear, rule and resolve the issues that most impact condo residents, including condo board governance and elections, condo rules, property management performance, condo fees, maintenance and repairs, reserve funds, and short-term rentals.

In 2020, Ontario’s Auditor General released a damning report of the province’s condo sector, calling for legal and regulatory changes including expanding the reach of CAT. Since her report, the Public Accounts Committee has provided a clear road map for what the Ontario government should be doing to strengthen government oversight over the condo sector. Bell’s motion would authorize CAT to adjudicate common complaints related to condo board governance, fees, repairs in common areas, short-term rentals, and reserve funds.

“The jurisdiction of the Condo Tribunal must be expanded so condo residents have a fast, affordable and fair way to have their concerns heard and addressed, without spending thousands of dollars and years of their life stuck in court,” Bell said.

The current government has not been too keen on promoting legislative initiatives that come from the Opposition.
We will watch and report on how this bill makes its way through Queen’s Park.

Shudeshna Nag, a condo owner said: “We are left feeling unsafe, and uncared for in our own homes. We are asking for basic rights of dignity, and security. I have written repeated letters to management which have gone unanswered. I am shocked to find how little accountability condo managers and boards have to residents, when they are managing impressive heaps of our monthly maintenance fees.”

Another condo ownerLina Kazakova added: “I strongly believe that Tribunal jurisdiction be expanded. Almost all the issues related to the compliance with the condo acts must be handled by the Tribunal. As it stands, condo owners in Ontario are completely unprotected. We had to hire a lawyer and pay more than $110 thousand in legal fees just to have an AGM.”


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6 comments to Opposition Motion to give condo owners a place to go for negligence, unfair fees lost after debate.

  • Joe Gaetan

    The CAT’s jurisdiction was expanded on January 1, 2022 to include: Disputes about unreasonable nuisances, annoyances or disruptions set out under section 117(2) of the Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Condo Act”) and in Ontario Regulation 48/01 (O. Reg 48/01).
    The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) is a fully online tribunal. The CAT online dispute resolution system (CAT-ODR) was put in place to help people resolve certain types of condominium-related disputes conveniently, quickly, and affordably.
    The CAT currently accepts applications about a range of issues including Condominium Records, Pets and Animals, Vehicles, Parking and Storage, Noise, Odours, Vibration, Light, Smoke and Vapour, and Compliance with Settlement Agreements.
    The CAT’s 3-stage dispute resolution services are offered at a total cost of $200 ($25 for Stage 1 – Negotiation; $50 for Stage 2 – Mediation; and $125 for Stage 3 – Adjudication).
    Can and should more be done to protect and help both the Condo Corporation and it’s owner? The answer is Yes.

  • Penny Hersh

    For the record I did sit on the board of my condominium for a period of time. It was during this time that we discovered many things that needed to be changed due to decisions made by the previous board. We had to increase condo fees to build up a cushion because of cash flow problems. We also were able to work with the developer to correct a heat/air conditioning problem in our lobby that had been an issue for years.

    So, yes, I am well aware that some boards are excellent and work together to improve the lives of all the condo owners.

    Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and it is for this reason that I feel that it would benefit condominium owners to have a Tribunal that they could go to instead of walking away because the cost in hiring lawyers is not something that is doable.

    • Gary Scobie

      Penny and Joe, I know you both have had issues with condo builder promises and disappointments with the developer and sometimes with your own board decisions. And these incidents happen at high price condos all the way down to what we today loosely term “affordable” condos.

      We have to face the fact that today more first owners have no choice but condos to live in and there are many more being built than detached homes or townhomes, so their options are few other than buying into a current older condo or a new one. I agree that a Tribunal must be set up for owners to uphold their rights to a safe, well-maintained and well-reserved condo building. The need has never been greater than today as condo ownership continues to rise into the future.

      Thanks to both of you for your comments.

      • Joe Gaetan

        Gary and other readers: I have been both a condo owner and board member of our Condo Corp for 10 years. I will be the first to admit we had no idea what we were buying into and have absolutely no regrets with that decision. When someone chooses to buy into a condominium they’re also buying into a structure that is very similar to our municipal governance model. Condo board members are democratically elected and serve limited terms usually 3 years. Board members upon being elected to the position are required to take compulsory education from the CAO and have a fiduciary responsibility to both the owners and the non-profit corporation. What is lost on a lot of condominium owners is that they have an interest in the common areas of the property as well as ownership of their unit.
        With respect to the NDP motion and the issues that are mentioned in this article, no short answer would do justice to the concerns expressed nor give satisfaction to people who feel they are not being governed properly.
        Being both an owner and a board member brings a much-needed perspective to the conversation. I have also been a member of the Golden Horseshoe Chapter of the Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI) as well as having served on the CCI National Committee and the Ontario legislative committee. The former being the body within CCI whose role within CCI is to respond to questions from government as well as forming positions on areas that require review such as the Auditor General Report. What is lost in the NDP’s motion, and this article is balance.

  • Penny Hersh

    It is about time that something like this comes into being.

    Many condominium owners decide to sell their units and leave because of the way the condominium board treats the owners.

    This could be a wakeup call for boards who feel they can decide on issues without consulting with the owners.

    Sounds a lot like City Hall.

    • Joe Gaetan

      Sounds like you should offer your candidacy as a board member where you can fix things, or failing that sell.