Step 4: Escalate the issue
Mediation and arbitration are effective ways to resolve disputes and are often used to resolve difficult condo disputes and are sometimes called alternative dispute resolution.
You are legally required to participate in mediation or arbitration if you have been asked to participate.
You can search for a mediator or arbitrator online and through organizations such as the ADR Institute of Ontario that provide these services.
Mediation is a process where a neutral facilitator tries to bring the parties to a mutually agreeable solution. Mediation is the preferred approach because it’s often less costly and it gives the parties an opportunity to find a solution that everyone is comfortable with.
Binding arbitration is the next step if mediation fails. Arbitration is a process where an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators conducts a hearing and makes a ruling on the issues in the dispute. The involved parties present evidence and then the arbitrator makes a binding decision. There are some cases where an arbitration decision can successfully be appealed in court.
The CMRAO complaints process
The Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario complaints process is a legal process that is designed to evaluate whether a licensed manager or licensed management company has violated the governing Condominium Management Services Act and the code of ethics.
The three-step CMRAO process can take up to 60 days or longer and includes:
- initial assessment
- information gathering
- review and decision
Complaints the CMRAO handles
Condo owners need to understand the CMRAO’s jurisdication before launching a complaint. This includes whether management has:
- Provided services without a valid licence
- Not disclosed a conflict of interest
- Solicited proxy forms in contravention of the CMSA
- Failed to use its best efforts to prevent fraud or errors
- Failed to protect the best interests of the condominium corporation.
The CMRAO will not handle complaints about repairs, maintenance or construction projects, liens, corporation records or other issues that are the responsibility of the condo corporation’s board of directors. Condo owners with a complaint in one of these areas should speak to their condo manager, management company or board first and, if unresolved, direct their complaint to the Condominium Authority Tribunal.
Determine the nature of your complaint
You should try to resolve your issue with the condo manager and conduct due diligence before filing a formal complaint with the CMRAO because that launches a legal process.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this something that can be resolved amicably in one-to-one discussions?
- Have I laid out and explained my issue in writing thoroughly?
- Have I raised the issue directly with the manager or management company first?
- Have I brought the issue to the attention of the board if I did not get a satisfactory response?
- Have I reviewed other options if I am still not satisfied?
- Have I reviewed the CMRAO complaints process thoroughly before submitting my complaint against the condo manager or management company and do I understand the timing and scope of their investigation and decision-making process?
The registrar of the CMRAO will contact the condo manager after receiving a complaint, consider both points of view and then apply one of the following resolutions:
- Try to resolve the complaint through some form of the mediation process. This entails getting you and the condo manager to communicate with each other to solve the problem.
- Issue a written warning to the condo management. This letter may caution the condo manager to cease the activity which leads to the complaint or face further action from the Registrar.
- Require the manager to take additional educational courses to solve the behavior. This might be useful if the offending behavior was the result of ignorance on the part of the condo management.
- Place the manager under suspension or rescind their license.
- Escalate the issue to the discipline committee. This solution is often applied in cases where there has been a breach in the registrar’s code of ethics.
- Take further action against the condo manager according to the severity of the matter and based on current legislation.
The CMRAO’s discipline committee is responsible for hearing cases related to complaints against condo management. They also decide if the manager’s behavior was against their code of ethics.
Condo managers who violate the code of ethics must take additional courses to improve their ability to do the job, pay a fine of up to $25,000 or go to jail depending on the severity of the offense.
Condo management companies who violate the Condominium Management Services Act face fines of up to $250,000.
Further legal action
You will need to hire a lawyer experienced in condominium law and file a lawsuit against the management company if your complaint is outside of the scope of the CMRAO.