Condo corporations are increasingly asked to disclose to condo owners the email addresses of the other owners. Indeed, a condo owner wishing to requisition a meeting of the owners or wishing to otherwise communicate with other owners finds email communications to be far more practical than having to mail a paper letter. After all, since the corporation is often communicating with its owners by email, why should all owners not have access to this same list?
In a recent Ottawa case, a judge ruled that condo owners are not entitled to access the email address list of other owners.
Pursuant to section 55 of the Condo Act, owners have a right to examine and obtain copies of the records of the condominium corporation. Many courts have indicated that, on this front, the purpose of the Condo Act is to provide owners with an open book into the affairs of the corporation. However, this right to access corporation records must be balanced with the owners’ expectation of privacy. Indeed, section 55(4) specifically provides that owners are not entitled to access records relating to someone else’s unit.
So, how is an owner to exercise his or her right to requisition a meeting of the owner if he or she is unable to communicate with them? One of the first things the requisitioning owners request from the condominium corporation is a list of name and address of the other owners. The question then becomes: should the corporation also provide the email addresses?
Deputy Judge Whitehall ruled that the corporation’s obligation to disclose the owners’ address of service does not apply to email but only apply to the postal address. He also agreed with prior decisions that releasing email addresses raised privacy concerns.
We agree. In fact, we even question whether providing a matching of the names and owner addresses also raises such privacy concerns. While some of this information may otherwise be publicly available, we question whether it is wise for a condo corporation to disclose this information to others, especially considering the exception under section 55 of the Condo Act and the increasing privacy expectation in today’s society. It may be sufficient to simply provide the requisitionists with the postal addresses for service, without providing the names.
These dilemmas always require a delicate balancing act. It is best to involve your corporation’s lawyer early to avoid headaches.