As most of Ontario was hit with its first snow storm of the winter, I sat down to take stock of 2015. And what a year it has been for us and for the Condo Adviser! Since our launch on March 24, 2015, we published more than 70 posts! Best of all, the response from our readers has been amazing! To top it all, we were delighted to be rewarded with the “Best Practice Group Blog Award” by Clawbies.
As is often done at this time of year, I propose a countdown of our top 10 most popular posts.
#10 and #7: The adoption of the new Condo Act
Unsurprisingly, a recurring topic for us in 2015 was the adoption of Ontario’s new Condo Act. Our initial summary of Bill 106 (as it was known prior to its adoption) ranked as our 7th most popular post this year. Bill 106 became law on December 2, 2015, but it will only come into force at a later date to be set by proclamation. This will give the Ontario legislature more time to develop the extensive regulation required under the new Act.
Our 10th most popular post dealt with the qualifications to be expected of condo directors under the new Act. The basic qualifications required to be a director have not changed under the new Act. Condo directors are still required to be individuals (as opposed to corporations), be at least eighteen years of age, be capable within the meaning of the Substitute Decisions Act and not be an undischarged bankrupt. Still, the new legislation imposes mandatory training on directors and will impose additional disclosure obligations on individuals interested in running for the board. More to come when regulations are adopted.
#9, #5 and #4: The Ballingall case
Three of our most popular posts dealt with the Ballingall case. This case is undoubtedly one of the most important court cases of 2015. We are quite proud of this, as we successfully argued it.
We acted for a group of owners who sought to have the ‘single-family provision’ of their declaration enforced. Indeed, despite the fact that the declaration specifically provided that units were to be used for single family purpose only, nearly 48% of the units were occupied by tenants and over 22% were occupied by unrelated students of a nearby university. While the majority of the board attempted to develop a rule to define the terms ‘single families’, one board member (who owned and leased 4 units to students) engaged in a very aggressive campaign to discredit the board. Eventually, this director became the president and made it clear that no steps would be taken to enforce this clause of the declaration. When the corporation was brought to court, the board attempted to pass a rule aimed at suspending the application of this provision for a period of 10 years!
This case helped define the meaning of “single family” for the purpose of condominium declarations and help define what is a “reasonable” grandfathering period when passing a rule. However, this case will likely be best known for setting down the rules by which condo directors should live. Indeed, it defines how a reasonably prudent director should (and should not) act.
Our three most popular posts on the Ballingall cases are, in order of popularity:
- Condo directors must be willing to compromise and find solutions (Top #9)
- A director should not act against the rest of the board (Top #5);
- Declarations can prohibit short-term rentals to unrelated students (Top #4);
Our 8th most popular post dealt with the case of a corporation who failed to address in a timely manner the source of excessive noise and vibration emanating from the mechanical penthouse. Considering a corporation’s obligations to repair and maintain common elements, the court concluded that the failure to follow the advice received from the corporation’s experts and to fix the problem constituted oppression.
Our 6th most popular post dealt with the rules applicable to condominiums during an electoral campaign – perhaps as a result of the longest federal electoral campaign in Canada’s history. We suspect this post is likely to be less consulted in the future… at least for another 4 years.
Oddly enough two of our three most popular posts dealt with restrictions applicable to condominium balconies. Our 3rd most popular post this year dealt with BBQs on balconies. Canadians appear very attached to their BBQs and giving it up may turn out to be one of the most difficult decision when moving into condos prohibiting it. Prospective purchasers should take a serious look at the governing documents before signing on the dotted line. A corporation can flat-out prohibit BBQs on balconies, even in municipalities that do not.
Our second most popular post dealt with Airbnb and other short-term rentals. Short-term rentals oppose, on the one hand, owners who feel they should be able to use their unit as they wish and rent it out if they so please, and the rest of the condominium community who finds itself having to subsidize and endure what amounts to be the operation of a business within their walls. Short-term rentals increase the transiency of occupants, often at the detriment of the sense of security and community. Such rentals may also increase risks for the corporation as a whole, who may be held responsible should something happen in common elements and who often is responsible to repair a unit after damage. In this post, corporations can find tools to curb and deal with the problems of short-term rentals.
Finally, our most popular post of the year dealt with smoking on condominium balconies. I am not sure if the popularity of this blog is indicative of a province-wide tension between neighbours. The fact of the matter is that we are often approached to deal with neighbourly nuisance or disturbance, which is sometimes smoke-related. This post addresses how a corporation can deal with these issues, from an individual and/or sporadic problem, to corporations interested in becoming entirely smoke-free.
There goes another year, gone by in a flash! We hope you enjoyed this year in review and we look forward to more blogging in the new year.
Happy new year to all!