As we all know by now, in October 2020 the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) increased its jurisdiction to cover disputes related to pets, parking and storage on top its usual jurisdiction over records requests.
Since then, it has been interesting to see just how far the scope of this new jurisdiction goes. A recent case has been released that sheds some more light on this, confirming that the CAT’s jurisdiction may go further than you may think.
The PCC 1052 case
In TW Cross Investments v PCC 1052, an owner filed a CAT application in which it alleged that the condo did not follow the proper procedure when it amended a provision of its declaration relating to animals.
The condominium brought a motion to dismiss the entire application, arguing that this question was not really one about pets but rather one dealing with section 107 of the Condominium Act, which sets out the procedure to amend a condo declaration. This, the condominium argued, was beyond the CAT’s jurisdiction.
The CAT did not agree.
The CAT’s Findings
The disputes over which the CAT has jurisdiction are prescribed in O. Reg. 179/17. Section 1(1)(d) of the regulation states that this jurisdiction includes:
- Disputes with respect to any provisions of the declaration, by-laws or rules of a corporation that prohibit, restrict or otherwise govern pets or other animals in a unit, the common elements or the assets, if any, of the corporation.
The provision of the condominium’s declaration at issue in this case stated:
Other than an Employment Unit being used for the operation of a Veterinary Clinic including without limitation surgeries, emergency services and pet care recovery services, no pets or animals of any kind shall be permitted in or about the Employment Units other than a Seeing Eye dog or guide dog, dog to assist the hearing impaired or dog to assist the physically challenged.
It is clear that the provision at the heart of this dispute governs pets, and, therefore, that the CAT had the jurisdiction to hear disputes about it.
The CAT determined that its jurisdiction includes the ability to consider procedural matters in determining the validity of a provision. It specifically noted that section 1.42 (1) of the Condominium Act states that the Tribunal has “exclusive jurisdiction to exercise the powers conferred on it under this Act and to determine all questions of fact or law that arise in any proceeding before it.”
Accordingly, the Condominium’s motion was dismissed.
This case provides yet another example of the importance of making sure that your governing documents are amended/registered correctly. A rule, by-law or an amendment to your declaration may be challenged and set aside by the CAT if it was not properly adopted (and if it deals with an issue over which the CAT has jurisdiction). Indeed, the CAT’s new mandate is providing owners with an efficient and cost-effective way to test the validity of their Corporation’s governing documents (at least with respect to pets, parking and storage).
All this to say, at the risk of being repetitive, if your Corporation is looking to add to or amend its governing documents, it is vital that proper procedure be followed. When in doubt, reach out to your favourite condo lawyer for advice!