Condo Law Digest – July 2019

Balmoral Developments Hilda Inc. v. Orillia 2019 ONSC 3292
Decision Date: May 29, 2019

This is a motion for summary judgement in a long-running dispute between a developer and the City of Orillia. After Balmoral completed construction of stacked townhouses in 2011, Balmoral and the City got into a legal dispute regarding: 1) whether or not up to 7 residents could legally occupy each unit; 2) whether the project would be considered a boarding, lodging or rooming house under the City’s code; 3) whether the project was subject to barrier-free requirements under the Building Code. The resolution of these concrete issues hangs on an Application for Exception that Balmoral made in 2012. Ordinarily, such an application speeds things up for a developer. In this case, Balmoral charges that the city planner “sat on” the application for two years and refused to present the application to city council. In the meantime the City issued By-Law 2014-75, which imposed on Balmoral the condition that notice be given to prospective purchasers of the units that no more than four residents can legally occupy each unit.

Justice Mulligan found that the City acted in bad faith by imposing the conditions in the By-Law. In effect, they “carved in stone” the provisions sought by the planning staff. However he found that the barrier-free requirements imposed by the City were lawful.

Comment: Justice Mulligan indicated that he was prepared to continue as Trial Management Judge, indicating that litigation is probably not finished.

1552443 Ontario Inc. v. Nipissing Vacant Land Condominium Corporation No. 41, 2019 ONSC 3715
Decision Date: June 14, 2019

The corporation was created in 2006 to manage and administer 32 units of vacant land in North Bay. The plaintiff originally owned all of the units. By 2012 the plaintiff had sold over one half of the units and was required to give up control of the Corporation. This did not happen until late 2017, resulting in acrimony between the plaintiff and the other owners. At the time of the hand-over, there was less than $100 in the Corporation’s operating and reserve accounts. The Corporation hired an independent professional to determine what the amount of the reserve fund should be.

After the owners assumed control of the Corporation, they registered a lien against the plaintiff’s units for payment of common expenses, and the plaintiff made a payment to cover the previous year’s expenses. In January 2018 all of the unit owners received a Notice of Special Assessment, with payment due the next month. The plaintiff refused to pay and so the Corporation issued Notices of Sale for the plaintiff’s units in May 2019. In this application, the plaintiff asks the court to find these Notices null and void.

The plaintiff made four arguments as to why the Notice of Special Assessment was invalid, misleading, and not levied in accordance with the by-laws of the Corporation. Justice Ellies did not find any of these arguments compelling and declined to find the Notices of Sale null and void.

Comment: Again, declining to pay common expense fees may result in legal trouble and expense.

About the image: The cottage of Stephen Leacock (arguably Orillia’s most famous resident.)