Real Estate

Condo resolution tribunal still a work in progress: Loeb

By Tony Poland, AdvocateDaily.com Associate Editor

Toronto condominium lawyer Audrey Loeb says she is encouraged by the initial progress made by the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) but that it has the potential to do much more.

“We've taken the first step. Now we need reports and statistics to understand how it's performing. Hopefully, its scope will gradually increase,” says Loeb, partner with the Toronto office of Shibley Righton LLP. “Right now, it has a single-purpose jurisdiction, so it only deals with disputes pertaining to a condominium corporation's records.

“It's supposed to become the resolution tribunal for all things condo — that's the goal,” she adds.

The CAT was introduced in November 2017 to help settle condominium-related disputes in Ontario.

Loeb tells AdvocateDaily.com there are “core records, such as the list of owners and their address, corporation bylaws and minutes of meetings” that owners are entitled to view but which might not be readily available to them.

“It gets more complicated when someone wants to see invoices, contracts or reports — some of which may have been prepared in contemplation of litigation,” she says.

Through the CAT, a condo owner can file a request for a record and condominium corporations can be fined for rejecting the request without good reason, Loeb says.

She says a troublesome aspect of the legislation is that the tribunal can impose a penalty on the corporation, but there is no sanction against a condo owner who makes vexatious applications.

Beyond expanding its role, Loeb says she would like to see the CAT rely on precedent when dealing with its files.

“Theoretically the decisions aren't binding, and there's no precedent when matters are resolved by alternative dispute resolution,” she says. “When you have a case decided by a judge, there is a precedent. The next time the matter comes up, you can tell your client the issue has already been decided by the court, and you can explain the likely outcome.”

As it stands, “anybody, regardless of the validity of their claim, can go before the tribunal” and the same issues could repeatedly arise leading to potential overloading and backlogs in the system, Loeb says.

“If you don’t have the benefit of precedent there could be an impact on volume,” she says. “I think it would be beneficial for everybody if the decisions were binding.”

Expanding the CAT's mandate to additional areas of dispute resolution may take some time, Loeb says.

Taking it slowly has benefits since it allows those dealing with CAT disputes to build up expertise and demonstrate value down the road.

“I'm not certain what the delay is, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that it's growing pains,” she says. "It’s going to move forward, but there are some issues that need to be addressed."

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