Condo Law Digest – November 2018

Branches on a rainy day.jpgPrecision Tree Care Ltd. v. Peel Condominium Corporation et al, 2018 ONSC 5755
Decision Date: September 28, 2018
http://canlii.ca/t/hvb98

This is a motion for security for costs made by the defendant, PCC 507, against Precision Tree Care. (In other words, PCC 507 is asking that Precision Tree Care be legally required to pay money into court to cover a possible future cost order, in the case that PCC 507 prevails in the legal dispute between them and is awarded costs.)

The original dispute is rooted in the cost of tree trimming services. In September 2017 Precision agreed to remove trees and perform other services at PCC 507 for a cost of about $12,000. In December, Precision invoiced PCC 507 for nearly $164,000. Precision argues that the work was a lot more involved than they realized at first as many of the trees were unsafe to climb and they had to bring in heavy equipment at considerable cost. PCC 507 argues that the extra work was not authorized by their property management company, and that an independent arborist they retained valued the work completed by Precision at about $2,000. (PCC 507’s property manager at the time is no longer employed by the company in question.)

In this action, PCC 507 argues that the burden is on Precision to establish that 1) their case has some merit; and 2) they are impecunious (and so an order for security would be unjust). Justice Lemon found “no dispute” that Precision lacks the assets to pay costs if unsuccessful. However he also found that Precision’s case was not “plainly devoid of merit,” as much would depend on the testimony of the former property manager. He dismissed the motion and declined to order security for costs.

Comment: It will be interesting to see if the parties can settle their dispute without coming back to court.

Barta v. Rudolph, 2018 ONSC 6208
Decision Date: October 17, 2018
http://canlii.ca/t/hvl93

This is an appeal of a Small Claims Court judgement. In August 2015 Mr. Rudolph signed a one-year lease agreement to rent Ms. Barta’s condominium unit starting November 1, 2015. Before signing the lease, Mr. Rudolph had several air quality tests done, as his daughter, who suffers from mold toxicity, planned to visit him and occasionally live in the unit. In October 2015 Mr. Rudolph presented Ms. Barta with a deficiency list of 13 items, all of which she addressed. In early November 2015 Mr. Rudolph gathered dust samples from the unit and sent them to a lab in the U.S.to perform an Environmental Relative Moldiness Index Report (ERMI), as his daughter’s specialist doctor in the U.S. had advised that she could not go into the unit without this test being performed. The test came back positive. Mr. Rudolph advised Ms. Barta that the unit was “not fit for human habitation” and that he would not be moving in.

At the trial, Ms. Barta testified that she called two or three private mold companies who told her that they had never heard of the ERMI test, and that they could do nothing if there was no visible indication of mold. She was unable to rent the unit and sold it in April 2016. Mr. Rudolph, for his part, agreed that he could have done the ERMI test before signing the lease, and that he would not have moved into the unit even if Ms. Barta had taken further steps to remediate the mold. The trial judge ordered Mr. Rudolph to pay Ms. Barta $20,688 for lost rent, costs, and interest.

Mr. Rudolph’s main argument for the appeal was that the trial judge did not apply the “fit for habitation” test. Justice Conway dismissed Mr. Rudolph’s appeal, saying it was clear from the trial judge’s reasons that he understood the test, even if he did not explicitly articulate it. Justice Conway ordered that Mr. Rudolph pay costs of $8500.

Comment: Sometimes I think that if people stopped throwing good money after bad, the appeal courts would have far less to do.

About the image: “Branches on a rainy night” by J.smithOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Posted in Condo Disputes.

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