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Neighbour to Neighbour

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.

Neighbour to Neighbour

Living in a condominium community means that you may sometimes be unhappy with something one of your neighbours has done. Oftentimes, these issues can be easily resolved by talking to your neighbour, as they may be unaware that what they are doing is causing a disturbance.

Other times, collaboration and compromise may be necessary to ensure a positive and enjoyable condominium community. Resolving disputes quickly and with consideration for your neighbours ensures your condo remains a wonderful place to live.

If you and your neighbour cannot resolve the issue yourselves, it may be necessary to involve your condo corporation.

Examples of common neighbour to neighbour disputes include:

  • There is disagreement about the use of shared facilities (hallways, pool, gym, party room etc.);
  • Your neighbour is creating noises that are a nuisance;
  • Cigarette butts or garbage ends up on a neighbour’s property; or,
  • Your neighbour is doing something contrary to a by-law or rule.
If you are having an issue with a neighbour, start by reviewing your condo’s by-laws and rules. Most condo corporations have rules disturbing other residents.

Oftentimes, condominiums will have by-laws or rules that:

  • Prohibit noises at certain times;
  • Prohibit certain activities at certain times;
  • Prohibit interfering with the ability of a neighbour to enjoy their property.

In addition to your by-laws or rules, section 117 of the Condominium Act, 1998 (“the Act”) currently prohibits a person from allowing a condition to exist or to carry on activity in a unit or in the common elements if it is likely to damage the property or injure someone.

While your neighbour’s behavior may not necessarily injuries or damage to property, section 117 will soon be amended to prohibit anyone from any activity that is a nuisance, annoyance, or disruption to another resident.

It is important to note that the amendments to section 117 described above are not currently part of the Act. When these amendments become law, this prohibition will apply to all condo corporations. Under section 17 of the Condominium Act, 1998, condominium corporations are required to enforce the provisions of the Act, the declaration and the by-laws and rules of the condo. If an owner does not comply with the Act, declaration, or the by-laws or rules, legal action may be taken against them.

We recommend that you attempt all the steps below in sequence (where appropriate) until your issue is resolved.

1. Understand your rights and obligations

The Act will soon prohibit activities which are a nuisance or disturbance to others in a condo community. Your condo’s by-laws, rules, or policies may also address the activity that is the basis of the issue. Refer to Legislation, By-laws, and rules in Step #2 – Legal Considerations to learn more.

If you have already read this information, proceed to step 2.

2. Discuss the issue in-person

As a next step, you may want to consider having a conversation about the issue with your neighbour, or with your condo manager. Oftentimes, a clear and respectful conversation will help resolve these kinds of disputes.

You can use the helpful resources on this page to download a template to help prepare for a conversation with a neighbour or your condo manager.  Read more about preparing for a conversation with a neighbour.

If your issue is not resolved by communicating in-person, or if you do not feel comfortable speaking to your neighbour in-person, proceed to step 3.

3. Notify the condominium corporation of your concern

Your next step is to communicate your concerns to your condo board or manager. You can do this by talking to your board or manager in person, over the phone, or by email.

Usually, your condo board or manager will, on your behalf, contact the resident that is causing the issue on your behalf.

If your issue is not resolved by notifying your condominium corporation, proceed to step 4.

4. Follow up in writing

If you have already spoken to your condo board or manager and the issue persists, you may wish to follow up with your board in writing.

You can use the letter template in our Helpful Resources to communicate with your board or manager.

What if the self-help tools don’t resolve my issues?

In Step #4 – Additional Help, there are further steps you can take if you’ve tried the steps above and still have an issue. These steps include private mediation, arbitration, and/or other legal actions.

Need more help?

Mediation and arbitration are effective ways to resolve disputes where the parties are unable to reach a resolution themselves. Mediation and arbitration are commonly used to help resolve difficult condo disputes. Mediation and arbitration are sometimes called alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

Under section 132 (4) of the Condominium Act, 1998, all condo corporations in the province are deemed to have a provision in their declaration which says that disputes regarding the declaration, by-laws or rules must be filed for mediation or arbitration. Your condo corporation may also have a by-law that establishes the procedure that must be followed in the event of a dispute.

If you have been asked to participate in a mediation or arbitration, you are likely legally required to participate.

If you want to try mediation or arbitration for an unresolved issue, you will need to find a mediator or arbitrator who can assist you. You can search for a mediator or arbitrator online and through organizations that provide ADR services, such as the ADR Institute of Ontario.

Mediation

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 collaborate on finding a solution that everyone is comfortable with.

Arbitration

If mediation fails, binding arbitration is the next step. 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 parties involved in the dispute bring evidence to this hearing and then the arbitrator makes a binding decision. There are some cases where an arbitration decision can successfully be appealed to court.

Further legal action

If you are considering legal action against a neighbour or your condo corporation, you may wish to talk to a lawyer or paralegal. It is recommended that you try mediation and/or arbitration before taking a dispute to court.