If you have any questions about any of the information on the CAO’s guided steps to common issues, please contact us directly.
Generally speaking, owners and residents are usually prohibited from storing their personal property in a condominium corporation’s common elements. Likewise, owners and residents usually have a right to store their personal property in their units. There are, however, a number of important exceptions that you should be aware of.
For example, many condo owners or residents are surprised to learn that they cannot store their property on their balcony, or that they cannot use their parking space to store anything other than a vehicle.
These types of issues typically arise because the condo corporation has a rule that prohibits that kind of activity in the common elements, and sometimes within the units themselves.
Examples of common issues with personal property and objects include:
- An owner or resident has left personal property in the common elements (for example, an owner or resident has placed a plant or decorations in the hallways)
- An owner or resident is using an exclusive use common element (like a balcony) to store personal items, contrary to the rules.
- An owner or resident is keeping dangerous materials in their unit.
Issues with personal property and objects are usually the result of non-compliance with a rule of the condominium corporation. Under section 58 of the Condominium Act, 1998, condo corporations have the ability to make, amend or repeal rules that:
- promote the safety, security or welfare of owners or property; and
- prevent unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of the units and common elements.
Oftentimes, these rules may restrict an owner or resident’s ability to do what they want with their personal property. For example, a condo corporation might have a rule that says that:
- You cannot keep bikes on the balcony.
- You cannot have a barbecue.
- You cannot store flammable or combustible materials in your unit.
- Trailers are not permitted to be stored in the parking garage.
If you are having an issue with personal property, you should first check your condo corporation’s rules to see if they apply.
In addition to your 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 personal property is usually unlikely to result in injuries or damage to property, section 117 will soon be amended to prohibit anyone from creating unreasonable noise that is a nuisance, annoyance, or disruption to another resident. It is possible that your personal property (an air conditioning unit that is stored on your balcony, for example) may cause a disturbance to another owner or resident. If that is the case, it may not matter whether your condo has a rule against air conditioners or not, as the Act takes precedence over your condo corporation’s rules.
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 your issue. Refer to Legislation, By-laws, and Rules to learn more.
If you have already read this information, proceed to step 2.
2. 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.
Notifying your condo board or manager is an important step. After you contact them, the condo manager and/or the board will review and consider the matter you have raised. If your concern is with the conduct of another resident, the condo manager or the board will typically contact that person. If the issue concerns something you have done, or a question/problem you have, the condo manager of the board will respond to you with their comments and/or decision.
If your issue is not resolved by notifying your condominium corporation, proceed to step 3.
3. 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. For future reference, you should keep a copy of the letter or email that you send, and make note of the day that you sent it.
You can use the letter template available under Helpful Resources to communicate with your board or manager.
What if the self-help tools don’t resolve my issues?
In Step #4, 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 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.
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.