CAO & CAT Getting New Powers – What it Means for Condo Landlords

The Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) was established in 2017 and created under the Condominium Act. Their mandate is to support consumer protection by addressing concerns related to condo living and management, and by minimizing issues before they become full-blown disputes. The dispute resolution arm of the CAO is the Condominium Authority Tribunal, or CAT.

Unfortunately, the CAT failed to live up to its promise with the exception of a very small number of disputes. It began dealing only with denied document requests and expanded in scope slowly over time.

Condo living can be hell because people often act badly. Bad behaviour disrupts the well-being and enjoyment of others. Much of the Condominium Act deals with enforcing remedies for bad conduct, whether it be by owners, invitees or guests. The CAT was supposed to make it quicker, cheaper and more accessible. #CONDO-FAIL

Thankfully, due to Ontario Regulation 179/17, and effective October 1, 2020, the agency inherited some new powers with respect to resolution of disputes occurring in condos. These included issues such as:

  1. Pets and animals,
  2. Vehicles,
  3. Parking and Storage

Those amendments dealt with 2 of the 3 parts of the 3P’s in condo dispute management, that is Parking and Pets. The third P, the biggest source of disputes is People. Finally on September 23, 2021, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services announced that the CAT’s jurisdiction will be expanding effective 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).

  • Disputes about provisions in a condo corporation’s governing documents (i.e., its Declaration, By-laws or Rules) that prohibit, restrict or otherwise govern these activities, or any other type of nuisance, annoyance or disruption to an individual in a condo corporation.

  • Disputes about provisions in a condo corporation’s governing documents (i.e., its Declaration, By-laws or Rules) that govern the indemnification or compensation related to these disputes.

The CAT will receive jurisdiction over these disputes as the government will be proclaiming the amendments to section 117 of the Condominium Act and amending Ontario Regulation 179/17 (the CAO powers) to expand the CAT’s jurisdiction to include these disputes. In addition they will be amending section 26 of O.Reg. 48/01 to set out a list of prescribed nuisances, annoyances or disruptions. This list will include disputes regarding unreasonable nuisances, annoyances or disruptions in the nature of:

1. Noise
2. Odour
3. Smoke
4. Vapour
5. Light
6. Vibration

These changes are welcome and a long-time coming. Some of the changes stem from un-proclaimed amendments passed in 2015 and 2017. Perhaps the government wanted to have CAT more fully able to deal with disputes related to these new rules before bringing them into force.

In addition, there are amendments to the statutory regime that prohibit a tenant from engaging in behaviour that damages or might likely cause damage to common elements or assets. These types of issues will also head to CAT for adjudication.

So what does that mean for landlords? Well, landlords are not living in the unit, but their tenants are. Under the Condominiums Act, landlords are required to provide tenants with a copy of the Rules, Declaration and Bylaws of the Corporation, and tenants are required to adhere to them. Up until now, it was difficult to deal with breaches of the Rules other than through mandatory mediation and arbitration (s.132 requirement) and/or an application for a Compliance Order (a s.134 application) to the Superior Court. These processes are very expensive, especially for the loser. Legal costs could be upwards of $35,000. And often, the landlord would be the loser if they didn’t work at addressing the complaints from management about their ill-behaved tenants.

Starting January 1st, 2022, the adjudication and resolution of these matters will be done at the CAT so long as the issues fall into the categories above. That should be cheaper, faster and be less of a risk to owners who could be handed the Corporation’s excessive legal bills after a trip to Superior Court. If the bill is not paid, the full amount is usually registered as a lien against the unit, and the Corporation can sell the unit to recover the monies.

Yes, the Landlord Tenant Board is still the first option for landlords, and that’s where landlords should make their efforts AS SOON AS THERE IS A CONDUCT COMPLAINT ABOUT THEIR TENANTS. I’ve written another blog entry about the need for speed, and consequences of failing to act. But in the meantime, if the Corporation commences an action to resolve the issue, assuming that the landlord has not taken action, or the LTB is not providing a proper remedy of eviction, off to the CAT you will go.

Time will tell.

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