Compliance order obtained against condominium owners for unruly behavior and refusal to wear masks – Compliance
Living in a condominium requires a balance of interests between residents and compliance with the rules and regulations that govern the community. No owner can be allowed to go wild or impose their designs unilaterally on the rest of the condominium community. Personal activities must take into account the impact on other residents, as regulated by the rules of the condominium.
In Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 32 c. Yakovlev,
2021 ONSC 3323 (CanLII), a 177-unit condominium alleged that three unit owners engaged in conduct that violated the City of Ottawa’s Temporary Mask By-law, which required unit owners to wear a mask that covered their mouths , nose and chin, when they were in a closed common area of ââthe condominium. The condominium also alleged that all three owners created excessive and unbearable noise at unreasonable hours and engaged in aggressive and / or harassing behavior towards others.
In April 2021, the Honorable Madam Justice Ryan Bell of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice heard an application for an urgent cease and desist order filed by the condominium against the three homeowners.
In response to the request, the owners of the unit claimed to have been harassed by their neighbors and the condominium board, and that they were under constant surveillance. They claimed to have been so mistreated that they decided to leave the building.
The condominium filed evidence of several reports of excessive noise from the units in question, with noise often occurring in the late evening and gradually worsening into the night which continued past 10:30 PM. Excessive noise reported included “cultural music and dancing”, and the sounds of children fighting, screaming, stomping and jumping against walls inside the unit. There have also been complaints of noises. related to the renovation and the noise of power tools used at times prohibited by the rules of the condominium.
Despite the follow-up actions and communications, including letters from the condominium lawyer and a warning notice from the Ottawa bylaws, the conduct of the respondent owners and excessive noise continued. As a result, Judge Ryan Bell concluded that the owners of the unit had violated the rules and the article of the condominium. 119 from ontario Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Act“), which requires unit owners to comply with the declaration, regulations and rules of a condominium.
With respect to allegations of inappropriate, aggressive and threatening behavior, the article 117 of Act states that “No one shall allow a condition to exist or perform an activity in a unit or in the common elements if the condition or activity is likely to damage property or cause injury to an individual” . The term “injury to an individual” includes psychological damage and has been applied to forms of verbal and written violence: Ottawa Carleton Standard v. Friend, 2019 ONSC 3899, at para. 117.
The condominium has filed detailed evidence of a series of clashes between homeowners, board members, consultants and other owners of the apartment buildings. The condo has also filed evidence of a number of occasions where the owners of the unit and their children have been seen not wearing masks while in the interior common elements of the condo. The Ottawa Settlement Office has been called repeatedly and issued warnings to unit owners. In response, unit owners said that on some occasions when they weren’t wearing a mask it was because they were eating. However, they haven’t addressed all complaints, requested medical exemptions, or denied being aware of the critical importance of following mask-wearing guidelines.
Based on all of the evidence, Judge Ryan Bell was convinced that the owners of the unit had violated the article 117 of Act engaging in aggressive, threatening and harassing behavior against contractors, board members and other residents.
It was also found that the respondent owners did not abide by Mask’s by-law and that such conduct constituted a violation of section 117 of Act since it was a risk to the health and safety of other residents and the staff of the condominium: Halton Condominium Corporation No.77 c. Mitrovic, 2021 ONSC 2071 (CanLII), at para. 50.
There was no doubt that certain aggressive and threatening behaviors of the Respondent Owners were of greatest concern. However, all of their behavior confirmed that their breaking of the rules was repeated and persistent. Their behavior had harmed others within the condo, and the board of directors had devoted a great deal of time and energy to trying to remedy the unruly behavior and the safety and well-being of the other residents.
The respondent owners had not shown respect for their fellow citizens and had displayed behavior that did not take into account the impact of their personal activities on other residents as regulated by the rules of the community, in violation of the condominium regulations and the
Act. As Justice Ryan Bell noted, âLiving in a condominium community is a unique context that requires a balance between the interests of those who live thereâ (39).
Accordingly, the Court declared that the respondent owners had infringed Articles 117 and 119 of Act and the constituting documents of the co-ownership.
As to the remedy, the Court determined that the appropriate remedy was an “enforceable order” requiring the respondents to comply with the Act, the constituting documents and the mask policy, and to cease and desist from their past conduct. In addition, the Court gave the condominium the opportunity to request a forced sale of the respondents’ condominiums in the future upon filing of affidavit evidence confirming other violations.
The decision demonstrates the types of urgent, mandatory orders that can be obtained by a condominium in appropriate circumstances. Choosing to live in a condominium implies a commitment to conduct oneself in accordance with the rules of the community and with respect and consideration for one’s neighbors and fellow citizens. In cases where residents have exhibited behavior that violates the rules governing the condominium community, the condominium may seek court assistance. Ultimately, if the impugned conduct continues, condominium owners could be forced to sell their homes and move out.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.