Tenant’s accommodation needs don’t justify harassment of condominium community: ruling

Superior Court grants reliefs sought by condominium corporation with one exception

Tenant’s accommodation needs don’t justify harassment of condominium community: ruling
In the case, a condominium unit owner had disabilities and various needs for accommodation.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has ruled that a condominium unit owner’s right to accommodation to participate in the condominium community does not amount to a license to harass, oppress or unilaterally dictate rules for the community’s behaviour.

In Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation No. 580 v. Mills, 2021 ONSC 2616, 2021 ONSC 2616, the respondent resided in a unit in a small condominium corporation in downtown Toronto until he moved out the previous summer. The respondent has severe and pervasive disabilities affecting his ability to participate in the condominium community and has various needs for accommodation.

The applicant condominium corporation submitted that, for numerous years, the respondent terrorized and harassed the community to the extent that other residents refused to use certain common areas and third-party contractors could not enter the applicant’s unit and perform necessary maintenance in accordance with the condominium’s rules. The respondent made repeated complaints about his safety due to the risks of asbestos and other contamination in his unit. The respondent also allegedly threatened to send asbestos to other homes and repeatedly played audio recordings loud enough for the entire condominium community to hear.

The applicant sought an order directing that the respondent refrain from posting unauthorized notices or from playing audio recordings at common areas, and refrain from threatening the condominium’s board of directors or from communicating with the board except during an emergency and through email or regular mail. The order also asked that the respondent allow contractors to access his unit at any time upon a 24-hour notice or immediately during an emergency.

Since the respondent already moved out of his unit, he indicated that he would agree with most of the applicant’s requests. The remaining issues before the court were when and how the respondent could communicate with the applicant and with third-party contractors.

The Superior Court of Justice of Ontario granted the relief asked by the applicant, with one exception, which is that the respondent’s real estate counsel be permitted to email the applicant to arrange the sale of the unit and for no other purpose.

The court found that the respondent’s emails to the applicant were oppressive under the Condominium Act, 1998. While the court accepted that the respondent considered email as a suitable form of communication given his disabilities, the court said that the volume of the respondent’s emails overwhelmed the applicant’s personnel, exceeded any reasonable expectations and amounted to undue hardship.

With regard to the third-party contractors, the court noted that these contractors refused to enter the condominium unless the respondent stayed away from their staff and that the applicant obtained numerous asbestos reports from qualified experts. The respondent already accepted that the unit was not at risk of asbestos, thanks to these reports.

The court acknowledged that service providers have the obligation to accommodate the respondent’s disabilities so that he can fairly access services and to help him receive the goods and services he needs to the point of undue hardship. But the respondent’s right to accommodation did not eliminate the rights of others and the respondent’s obligation to obey the law and the condominium’s rules, as well as did not justify the respondent’s harassment or his assertions of rights that clashed with the rights of others.

“While corporations are required to ensure that they are reasonable in evaluating and responding to requests for accommodation, this does not mean that they are required to endure a level of harassment by the individual needing accommodation,” said a blog post on the website of Lash Condo Law. Lawyers dealing with these cases should evaluate the specific facts, said the blog post.

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