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Step 2: Legal considerations

The Condo Act prohibits anyone from causing unreasonable light related nuisance, annoyance or disruption in a condo regardless of what the condo’s governing documents say. Corporations often also have prohibitions against light-related nuisances in their governing documents – the Act, declaration, by-laws, and rules.

There may be municipal by-laws regarding light, depending on where you live.

What counts as ‘unreasonable’ light?

Light can be unreasonable if it interferes with someone’s right to use and enjoy their unit. The Condo Act prohibits unreasonable lighting in units or common elements regardless of what the condo’s governing documents say.

Whether light is unreasonable depends on:

The Source

The Intensity

How long it lasts

How often it happens

If it affects someone’s right to use and enjoy their unit

What does the Condo Act say?

Section 119 (1) of the Act requires everyone including unit owners, occupants and condo corporations to comply with the Act.

Section 117 (2) prohibits anyone from carrying on or allowing an activity that causes an unreasonable nuisance.

Section 17 (3) of the Act requires condo corporations to take reasonable steps to ensure everyone complies with the Act.

Condo governing documents

Each condo corporation has unique provisions dealing with light in their governing documents and what is allowed varies from community to community. Generally speaking, light provisions are intended to ensure residents can enjoy their units in peace. Everyone must comply with the governing documents and boards must take reasonable steps to enforce compliance.

Examples include prohibitions from having bright lights that shine into other units’ windows.

Your first step should always be to check what your governing documents say if you are dealing with a light issue. Provisions on light will be most likely in the declaration or rules.

Municipal by-laws

Condo corporations are required to ensure everyone complies with the Act, they may not be able to control what happens outside of the condo corporation’s property or physical boundaries. This is an area governed by your local municipality and enforced through municipal by-laws.

In such situations, you may need to review the municipal by-laws or by-law enforcement.

Necessary repairs

Some light issues might be the result of malfunctioning components and might require repairs or maintenance to fix them. For example, malfunctioning electrical systems or burnt-out lightbulbs.

You need to determine who’s responsible for repairs before you address the light issues. Your condo’s declaration will outline responsibilities for repairs and maintenance. Generally, corporations are responsible for repairing common elements.

Addressing light issues

Condo boards or owners may take legal action against residents that cause unreasonable light issues, including by filing an application with the Condominium Authority Tribunal.

Owners can also take action against a corporation, either causing an unreasonable light issue or not taking adequate steps to address a light issue created by other residents. Tenants or other non-owner occupants should contact the unit owner if they have a light issue.

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