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Harassment

Welcome to the CAO’s guided steps to common issues. The CAO provides the information, tools, and templates on these pages to help condominium communities better understand issues and work together to resolve them collaboratively before they escalate into disputes. For situations where condo communities are unable to resolve their issues collaboratively, the CAO also provides information on the next steps they can take.

If you have any questions about any of the information on the CAO’s guided steps to common issues, please contact us directly.

Harassment

Living in a condominium community means you will often interact with other unit owners, occupants and/or professionals hired by the corporation.

Harassment can be broadly understood as unwelcome, threatening, and / or discriminatory interactions with other residents, condominium staff or board members. Harassment often involves multiple interactions that occur over time, but single incidents can also be considered harassment.

Harassment issues in condominium corporations are a serious matter.

Condominiums often have specific rules or other requirements that prohibit harassment and / or other types of aggressive or problematic behaviour. If your condominium corporation has such restrictions, they can be found in your condominium corporation’s declaration, by-laws, and rules (collectively called “the governing documents”).

Resolving these issues often requires the involvement of the condominium corporation, or in very serious cases, the police.

Examples of harassment issues include:

  • Making derogatory, humiliating, or discriminatory comments to a unit owner or occupant;
  • Publicly posting derogatory, humiliating, or discriminatory in the condo;
  • Bullying;
  • Persistent or repeated attempts to contact another unit owner or occupant (e.g., by phone or email); or
  • Provoking or inciting verbal or physical confrontations with another unit owner or occupant.

Immediate Risk of Harm or Damage to Property

If you are experiencing harassment and believe that you are being threatened, are at risk of being harmed or are at risk of having your property or the condominium corporation’s property damaged, you may want to consider contacting the police.

Have a Question?

Shape Description automatically generated with medium confidenceIf you have a question about any of the information you’ve read, please contact us. We have a team available to answer any questions you may have.

How do my condominium corporation’s governing documents apply?

Every condominium owner and occupant is required to comply with the Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Condo Act”), and with the condominium corporation’s governing documents (i.e., its declaration, by-laws, and rules).

If you have a harassment issue, or if you received a complaint about how you may be involved with a harassment issue, you should start by reviewing your condominium corporation’s governing documents. Many condominium corporations have provisions in their governing documents that prohibit certain types of behaviour. If your condominium corporation has provisions in its governing documents relating to harassment, they would most likely be found in the declaration or rules, though they may also be found in the by-laws.

By reviewing these documents, you can determine what is and isn’t allowed in your condominium corporation. Depending on the issue, you may also want to review your corporation’s governing documents for other provisions that might be relevant, even if those provisions do not specifically mention harassment.

For example, your condominium corporation’s governing documents may contain provisions that:

  • Prohibit verbal or physical confrontations with other residents.
  • Prohibit hurtful, aggressive, or discriminatory language in the common elements.
  • Prohibit publicly posting or distributing hurtful, aggressive, or discriminatory materials.
  • Limit unsolicited emails, phone calls and/or visits to a resident’s unit.

A condominium corporation’s governing documents are required to be consistent with the Condo Act. In addition, a condominium corporation’s by-laws and rules must be consistent with the declaration and must be reasonable.

For an overview of declarations, by-laws and rules, visit our website by clicking here.

Shape Description automatically generated with medium confidenceDon’t have a copy of your condominium corporation’s declaration, by-laws or rules?

You can request a copy from your condominium corporation using the mandatory Request for Records form, available on our website.

How does the Condo Act apply?

Section 119 (1) of the Condo Act requires everyone, including unit owners, occupants and your condominium corporation, to comply with the Condo Act and your condominium corporation’s governing documents. Accordingly, if your condominium corporation’s governing documents include provisions that deal with harassment or related behaviour, everyone is required to follow them.

Furthermore, under section 17 (3) of the Condo Act, condominium corporations are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that everyone complies with the Condo Act and the condominium corporation’s governing documents.

Even if the condominium corporation’s governing documents do not specify anything about harassment, section 117 of the Condo Act prohibits anyone from:

  • Doing anything that is likely to damage the property or assets, or to cause injury or illness to another individual; and,
  • Causing an unreasonable nuisance, annoyance or disruption.

A condominium corporation is legally required to take action to address harassment that violates the Condo Act and/or corporation’s governing documents.

Accordingly, if you are experiencing harassment, you should notify your condominium corporation as soon as possible so they can deal with it.

If an owner or occupant is causing an unreasonable nuisance, annoyance, or disruption (either by doing something or failing to do something), or if they are not complying with the condominium’s governing documents, then the condominium corporation or another owner may take legal action against them, including filing an application with the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT).

Likewise, if a condominium corporation causes an unreasonable nuisance, annoyance, or disruption (either by doing something or failing to do something) then a unit owner may take legal action against them, including filing an application with the CAT.

Important Note: CAT can potentially deal with harassment issues, but only if:

  • The condominium corporation has provisions in its governing documents that prohibit, restrict or otherwise govern harassment; or,
  • The harassment is causing a nuisance, annoyance or disruption involving noise, odour, light, vibration, or smoke or vapour.

The CAT cannot deal with disputes that involve dangerous situations which have already caused, or are likely to result in, injury, illness, or damage to a unit or the common elements.

For more information on the CAT, please visit our website here.

Other Legal Considerations

Criminal Code

Criminal harassment is an offence under section 264 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

A person who is engaging in harassing conduct as described below may be charged with criminal harassment under the Criminal Code:

(a) repeatedly following from place to place the other person or anyone known to them;

(b) repeatedly communicating with, either directly or indirectly, the other person or anyone known to them;

(c) besetting or watching the dwelling-house, or place where the other person, or anyone known to them, resides, works, carries on business or happens to be; or

(d) engaging in threatening conduct directed at the other person or any member of their family.

If you are engaging in unwanted conduct as described above, you should stop immediately.

If you believe that someone is harassing you, you may want to contact your local police service.

Ontario Health and Safety Act (OHSA)

The OHSA is provincial legislation that ensures that all workers, including condominium staff, are protected from workplace health and safety hazards. The OHSA requires employers (including condominium corporations) to comply with the requirements and standards established under OHSA.

If a condominium corporation has employees, they may be required under OHSA to develop anti-harassment policies, to investigate any reported harassment involving staff and to take steps to address workplace harassment issues – including issues involving unit owners and occupants.

This means that condominium corporations will often need to investigate and respond to any issues involving unit owners or occupants harassing staff, which could include legal action against the unit owner and / or occupant.

Ontario’s Human Rights Code (“the Code”)

The Code is provincial legislation that gives everyone equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in specific social areas such as jobs, housing, services, facilities, and contracts or agreements.

Under the Code, everyone has the right to be free from discrimination in five parts of society, referred to as social areas, based on one or more of the 17 personal attributes, referred to as grounds.

In some cases, harassment might constitute or involve discrimination under the Code. Harassment is defined in subsection 10(1) of the Code as “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.”

For more information on Code-protected grounds and social areas, please visit the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s website by clicking here.

If you believe that you have a Code-related issue in your condominium, please visit the CAO’s webpage on Ontario’s Human Rights Code and Condominium Governing Documents by clicking here.

Have a Question?

Shape Description automatically generated with medium confidenceIf you have a question about any of the information you’ve read, please contact us. We have a team available to answer any questions you may have.

We strongly recommend that you attempt all the steps below in sequence (where appropriate) before taking any further action.

Solutions for Owners

Solutions for Condominium Boards & Managers

File an application with the CAT

If you’ve tried the steps above and your issue still hasn’t been resolved, you may be able to file an application with the CAT, which is an online tribunal dedicated to resolving condo disputes.

The CAT is pleased to provide an online dispute resolution system (CAT-ODR) to help Ontario’s condo communities resolve their condo disputes conveniently, quickly, and affordably.

In order to file an application relating to harassment with the CAT, your condominium corporation’s governing documents must include one or more provisions that prohibit, restrict or otherwise govern harassment.

The CAT cannot accept an application if there are no provisions in the condominium corporation’s governing documents that prohibit, restrict or otherwise govern harassment.

Important Note: The CAT cannot accept an application if the conduct is dangerous or is likely to cause damage to the property and / or injury or illness to an individual. If this is the case, you may want to consider seeking legal advice and/or contacting your local police service instead.

How can the CAT help resolve my dispute?

The CAT has a three-stage dispute resolution process:

  • In Stage 1 – Negotiation, you will work with the other parties to try to resolve the issues.
  • In Stage 2 – Mediation, you will work with a CAT Mediator to try to resolve the issues.
  • In Stage 3 – Tribunal Decision, a CAT Member will conduct an online hearing, during which both sides will make their case. The Member will then issue an order resolving the issues.

Learn more about the CAT’s process here.

Who can file a harassment-related application with the CAT?

Unit owners, mortgagees, and condominium corporations can file applications with the CAT.

What kinds of disputes can be filed with the CAT?

The CAT can deal with disputes about the provisions in your condominium corporation’s governing documents that deal with harassment. This includes issues involving:

  • Compliance with provisions in the corporation’s governing documents related to harassment;
  • The consistency and/or reasonableness of those provisions;
  • The applicability of those provisions; and,
  • Any related indemnification / compensation.

Want to learn more about previous CAT cases?

Access the CAT’s previous decisions on our website.

Ready to file?

There is a non-refundable $25 fee to file an application with the CAT.

Further legal action

If you are considering legal action against a unit owner, occupant or your condominium corporation, you may wish to talk to a lawyer or paralegal.

Seeking legal advice

If you need advice on what to do about an ongoing harassment issue, you may wish to seek legal advice from a paralegal or lawyer licensed by the Law Society of Ontario.

If you do not already have a lawyer or paralegal, you may be interested in the Law Society Referral service, which is an online service provided by the LSO to connect people in need with licensed lawyers and paralegals. The service is free, and you may receive up to a half-hour free consultation.

Please note: The CAO and its staff are not permitted to provide legal interpretations or advice.

Harassment

Helpful Resources

Owner to other Owners or Occupant Templates

First Letter to Owner
Second Letter to Owner
Third Letter to Owner

Owner to the Board of Directors Templates

First Letter to Condo Corp
Second Letter to Condo Corp

Board Directors to Owners Templates

First Letter to Owner