Purchasing a condominium to rent out to tenants can be a great way to earn a passive income, for those who can afford an investment property. Unlike a house, condominiums are relatively low maintenance for owners, with the condo corporation being responsible for maintaining the common areas and exterior of the units. However, renting a condominium to a tenant also means the owner could be on the hook for the cost of any damages caused by the tenant to the unit, or the common elements. Further, if the tenant fails to abide by the condominium rules and bylaws, the owner could find themselves facing complaints from the condominium corporation, neighbours, or worse.
In some cases, condominium owners have been required to pay extensive legal fees when a condominium corporation is forced to begin a court action against a tenant for property damage or behaviour that contravenes the bylaws. Even owners who try to work with the corporation to have a problem tenant removed may find their hands are tied if the Landlord and Tenant Board is not able to hear their matter quickly.
To help address this situation, changes to the provincial Condominium Act are coming into force as of January 1, 2022, which are in part aimed at helping owners address problem tenants more quickly and cost-effectively.
Owner Liable for $10,000 in Court Costs Relating to Tenant’s Behaviour
Just this past summer, a condo owner in Toronto was saddled with thousands of dollars in fees after her tenant regularly engaged in threatening behaviour toward other residents and caused damage to the property. The property owner had rented the unit to the tenant earlier in the year, and soon after he moved in, he began to engage in a series of odd behaviours that threatened other residents of the building, including:
- Exposing himself and performing lewd acts in common areas in front of other residents
- Attempting to force his way into cars on the premises
- Defacing the unit doors and walls
- Blocking the entrance in an attempt to prevent other residents from entering
- Banging on other resident’s doors in the middle of the night
- Threatening a security guard on the premises with a knife
Soon after the behaviour was reported, the condo owner delivered an eviction notice to the tenant, however, her request for an expedited hearing was denied by the Landlord and Tenant Board. The condominium corporation brought an application in court seeking an order that the unit’s owner take all reasonable steps to ensure the tenant complied with the condominium corporation’s rules while he remained a tenant in the unit.
The court granted the application and ordered that the condo owner pay the corporation’s legal fees, in the amount of $10,000.
Condominium Act Changes Will Designate a New Process to Address “Nuisances”
In an effort to make it easier and more efficient to address problematic tenant (and owner) behaviours, the Condominium Act will be amended as of January 1, 2022. S. 117 of the Act will specifically prohibit residents from engaging in activities that be deemed a “nuisance, annoyance, or disruption” to other residents, the common elements, or assets of the condominium.
Specifically, the issues that will be deemed to be nuisances under the revised Act will include:
- Smoke & vapour: this will address smoke from substances such as tobacco or cannabis which may seep through to another unit through doorways or from balconies, or smoke and vapour from other sources including barbeques, fire pits, or machinery.
- Odours: This will address common issues in condominiums such as odours from cooking, fragrances such as candles or incense
- Light: Lighting issues may be more prevalent in common areas, such as parking garages with insufficient light, or streetlamps or signs which cause excess light to enter a resident’s unit
- Noise and vibrations: Unwanted noise or vibrations are often a complaint in condominiums, and can be caused by a number of issues:
- Moving furniture or operating tools in a unit
- Heavy footsteps
- Loud pets, including excessive barking
- Shouting, loud music, or television
Beginning January 1st, disputes relating to the above, as well as any other violations of rules set out in a condominium’s bylaws or other governing documents, will be heard by the Condominium Authority Tribunal. The hope is that this change will allow all parties involved, including owners, tenants, and condominium corporations to have disputes resolved more quickly, and in a less costly manner than going to court.
It should be noted that eviction hearings will remain under the jurisdiction of the Landlord and Tenant Board, so if a dispute cannot be resolved by the Condominium Authority Tribunal, an owner will still need to pursue traditional methods to have a tenant removed. However, the hearing may help owners by backing up their claims in the event that they have to proceed to eviction. Further, if the Tribunal is able to resolve the matter, it could save owners significant costs in the event that they have to participate in a dispute between their condo corporation and a problematic tenant.
Contact the Real Estate Lawyers at Tierney Stauffer LLP in Ottawa, North Bay, & Eastern Ontario for Representation in Residential Real Estate Matters and Litigation
At Tierney Stauffer LLP, we pride ourselves on our client-focused and personalized approach to residential real estate matters. Our real estate lawyers have extensive experience in condominium law and leasing issues, as well as litigation, mediation and arbitration. If you are a condominium owner facing a dispute with a tenant, we can help you identify the most efficient path to resolution for your issue and provide compelling advocacy on your behalf. Call us at 1-888-799-8057 or contact us online to set up a consultation with an experienced lawyer.