As noted in a previous blog, Bill 106 contemplates that a Condominium Authority Tribunal will be set up to provide dispute resolution services for disputes primarily between condominium corporations and owners, occupiers and mortgagees of a unit, and between owners.*
Bill 106 bestows on the Tribunal considerable power to make orders, including:
- an order for the detention, preservation or inspection of property and documents that are the subject of the dispute application
- an order directing a party to comply
- an order prohibiting a party from taking a particular action or requiring the party to take a particular action
- an order directing a party to pay compensation for damages as a result of non-compliance, up to the greater of $25,000 or the amount prescribed in the regulations
- an order directing a party to pay the costs of the Tribunal
- an order directing a condominium corporation to pay a penalty of not more than $5,000 (or any lesser amount set out in the regulations) where the condominium corporation has refused to permit a person to examine or obtain copies of records in breach of section 55(3) of the Condominium Act. (Except for this penalty, Bill 106 does not specify the imposition of penalties for any other non-compliance with the legislation and regulations.)
- an order requiring compliance with any written settlement agreement
- an order directing whatever relief the Tribunal considers fair in the circumstances
The Tribunal will have the power to direct that the parties participate in alternative dispute resolution, which includes mediation, conciliation and negotiation.
The Tribunal will also be entitled to dismiss an application without a hearing where the Tribunal believes that the application is frivolous or vexatious or has not been initiated in good faith or discloses no reasonable cause of action or where the applicant has filed documents with the Tribunal that the applicant knew or ought to have known contained false or misleading information. Hopefully this will weed out applications by unreasonably difficult owners pursuing personal vendettas where there clearly is no breach of the legislation, the regulations or the condominium documents.
During the Government’s review of the current Condominium Act, feedback from many stakeholders indicated that dispute resolution is currently too time-consuming and expensive, which has resulted in an imbalance of power between condominium corporations and owners. Bill 106 specifies that proceedings of the Tribunal are to be carried out in the most expeditious method and contemplates that proceedings may be held orally or in writing, in person, by telephone or video conference or other electronic means.
While the goal of the legislators was to create a more streamlined dispute resolution process that is quicker, cheaper and fairer, there is some controversy about the proposed dispute resolution process. Some critics are fearful that the Tribunal could be inundated with applications, resulting in a bureaucratic quagmire that is not quick or efficient. In addition, while the Tribunal will be funded by the assessments levied on all condominium corporations, some condominiums are harmonious, stable, well-run communities where the majority of units are owner-occupied and few disputes arise. On the other hand, some condominiums, particularly those where the majority of residents are tenants, are rife with disputes. Those harmonious communities will be paying for services that they may not use and will be subsidizing the cost of resolving disputes in dysfunctional condominiums.