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Condominium Group

With the exploding growth of condominiums in Ontario, our Condominium Law Group is a leader in advising condominium corporations, boards of directors, owners and professionals in the condominium industry.  We have an outstanding team of lawyers and professional staff which enables us to provide exceptional service in a cost effective and timely manner.

 

Shibley Righton is pleased to make available updated verisons of our Buying and Owning A Condo Guide as well as our Condominium Owners and Residents' Guide.

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Please click here to download a copy of our GUIDE TO PHASE ONE OF THE CONDOMINIUM ACT AMENDMENTS

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Publications

Description

John Devellis HeadshotAs the first few cases trickle out of the new Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), Toronto condominium lawyer John De Vellis says the decisions released so far largely follow existing case law.

“Many of the cases are following the same jurisprudence,” says De Vellis, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP. “For the most part, none of the tests has changed. It’s just that you have a specialized tribunal handling matters.”

The tribunal was set up as an online-only body, devoted exclusively to condo-related disputes in Ontario. The hope, says De Vellis, is that specialized adjudicators ruling on written submission will allow cases to settle more quickly and inexpensively than going through the courts.

So far, CAT’s jurisdiction extends only as far as record disputes covered by s. 55 of the Condominium Act, but will likely expand as time goes on, he tells AdvocateDaily.com.

The stepped process begins with a $25 access fee that allows the parties to try to settle the issues themselves. The next stage, which costs $50, escalates the matter to mediation before a final adjudication stage by a tribunal member, which costs $125.

Below, De Vellis picks out some of the highlights of the cases decided so far:

Legal invoices case

This decision involved an owner’s request for unredacted copies of the invoices from the condo corporation’s lawyer.

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story.

Date_Published
2018-11-19
Description

Warren Kleiner Head ShotIn the final instalment of a two-part series, Toronto condominium lawyer Warren Kleiner discusses solutions to some of the common issues that arise with shared facilities agreements.

A community-focused approach can help defuse tensions caused by shared facilities agreements (SFAs), Toronto condominium lawyer Warren Kleiner tells AdvocateDaily.com.

As Kleiner, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP's Toronto office, explained in part one of this series, SFAs, which spell out who is responsible for expenses associated with common facilities, are a frequent source of strife among condo corporations and freehold entities.

However, he says there are a number of steps parties can take to get ahead of disputes or to avoid them spiralling out of control.

Co-operation

“Working together is critically important for parties to an SFA,” Kleiner says. “If it involves three condos, any solutions must work for the entire community.”

Community thinking is even more important for those on the shared facilities committee tasked with making decisions relating to the agreement.

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story.

Date_Published
2018-11-16
Description

Audrey Loeb Head ShotThere is no doubt the varied uses of technology are here to stay, but Toronto condominium lawyer Audrey Loeb says the use of drones and artificial intelligence could clash with the privacy rights of condo dwellers.

Loeb, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP, tells AdvocateDaily.com there are many technological changes happening in the condominium corporation industry, like the introduction of artificial intelligence to monitor HVAC systems and the use of airborne drones to police properties for infractions of no smoking policies.

In preparation for the forthcoming changes, she offers this advice — "hold onto your hats."

Loeb foresees that "privacy, or the lack thereof, is going to be a problem."

"I just don't think we have an idea of what's actually going to happen," she says of the construction and surveillance technology under development.

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story.

Date_Published
2018-11-15
Description

Megan Mackey Head ShotCondominium boards and managers should deal with hoarding and pest issues quickly, going to court if necessary, to stay on top of potentially expensive problems, says Toronto condominium and commercial litigator Megan Mackey.

“Often, the condominium board doesn’t really appreciate how bad the problem is and what risks are associated with it,” Mackey tells AdvocateDaily.com.

She says hoarding typically comes to light as the result of a pest infestation or a plumbing issue.

“We may get reports of pests or leaks coming from a unit,” says Mackey, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP.

“If it’s reported as a plumbing issue, the plumber may refuse to go into the unit because he or she discovers there is a hoarding problem,” she says.

“For most condos, the annual fire inspection is a good way to keep an eye out for hoarding.”

Mackey recalls a hoarder that had both plumbing issues and pests in their unit.

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story.

Date_Published
2018-11-13
Description

Audrey Loeb Head ShotCondominium corporations will only investigate if someone has been smoking or vaping cannabis in their unit when a formal complaint is lodged, Toronto condominium lawyer Audrey Loeb tells CBC.

“Here’s the thing: nobody is going to be going into the units on a daily basis to inspect if anybody’s smoking,” says Loeb, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP.

Even medical users who have a licence for cannabis can expect to face challenges in condos across Toronto, stemming from objections from other residents, she says.

“I think it’s going to be tough to get a doctor to say that the only way you can take cannabis is through smoking, and that’s the only way you’ll get relief (of symptoms),” Loeb says.

One medical cannabis user who was diagnosed with a condition that causes brain seizures received an exemption from his condo corporation and told CBC that using marijuana has helped him reduce the number of seizures by 80 to 90 per cent

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story.

Date_Published
2018-11-08
Description

Armand Conant HeadshotToronto condominium lawyer Armand Conant tells CondoBusiness magazine he’s hopeful the new Ontario government will follow through with changes to the Condominium Act that haven’t yet been proclaimed.

The online publication says the fate of many of the planned changes is uncertain.

“While the Condominium Act reforms that have been phased in to date are now law, the outstanding legislative provisions are sitting on the books awaiting accompanying regulations,” it reports. “After regulations are in place, the outstanding legislative provisions must be proclaimed into force in order to take effect.”

Conant, a partner and head of the condominium law group with Shibley Righton LLP, tells AdvocateDaily.com that he's looking forward to some of those regulations, including one that would "better define for boards what 'adequate' means for financing their reserve funds — which is collected through the monthly fees and used to pay for major repair or replacement of the corporation’s components and assets.

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story.

Date_Published
2018-11-06
Description

Joel Berkovitz Head ShotNow that Oct. 17 has come and gone, there may be a whiff of something else in the autumn air, Toronto business lawyer Joel Berkovitz writes in Shibley Righton’s Condo Law Newsletter.

The smell of now-legalized marijuana should be a reminder to condominium boards to reflect on whether they’re ready for the changes, says Berkovitz, a lawyer with Shibley Righton LLP.

“While much will be written about the effects of legalization on the country as a whole, condominium directors and managers will need to consider the effects of legalization on their individual communities,” he writes.

“Many condominiums have chosen to take this as an opportunity to address both tobacco and cannabis smoking in their buildings, with many choosing to pass rules which will eventually make their buildings entirely smoke-free,” Berkovitz says. “Others have taken a less restrictive approach and have only passed rules governing the growing of cannabis, and smoking of cannabis on the common elements.”

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story.

Date_Published
2018-10-29
Description

Warren Kleiner Head ShotIn part one of two-part series on shared facilities agreements, Toronto condominium lawyer Warren Kleiner outlines the most common issues that arise.

Shared facilities agreements (SFAs) are a frequent cause of concern for condo corporations, Toronto condominium lawyer Warren Kleiner tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Kleiner, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP's Toronto office, explains that the agreements are most often associated with recreation facilities such as pools, yards and activity rooms in developments that are home to multiple condo corporations and in relation to facilities such as shared roadways, gatehouses, parking garages and utility feeds, spelling out who is responsible for associated expenses.

“Any time a condo is not stand-alone, you should have an SFA, whether it’s between more than one condo corporation, or a few condos and a freehold entity,” Kleiner says. “And the costs can be pretty high. I have seen some condos where half of the common expenses are going towards shared facilities."

Many of the problems associated with SFAs arise from the fact that they are drafted by developers, often years before the subject condos become a reality, he says.

“They’re done in a conceptual sort of framework when nobody knows how things will work in reality, once everything is in existence on the ground,” Kleiner says. “The practicalities at the end of the day are not necessarily the same as what was envisioned when the SFA was written.”

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story.

Date_Published
2018-10-24
Description

Deborah Howden Head ShotGrowing weed at home may be legal under the Cannabis Act, but that doesn’t mean everyone can do it, especially those living in condos, Toronto condominium lawyer Deborah Howden tells NOW magazine.

Condo corporations have the power to create rules that prevent growers from “unreasonable interference with the use and enjoying of” an owner’s unit and the common elements in the building, says Howden, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP's Toronto office.

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story
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Across Toronto, hundreds of condo boards have already banned both smoking and growing cannabis over concerns around the smell and mould that could form when growing the plants, she says.

Date_Published
2018-10-22
Description

Audrey Loeb Head ShotWith the clock ticking down to legal weed day, a growing number of condo communities are tackling the thorny question of what to do about marijuana use in individual units. Many have circulated surveys to their residents.

Yet as condo lawyer Audrey Loeb, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP, points out, many others “are doing absolutely nothing” to alter their rules.

To date, most of the public and media attention about this issue has focused on a few high-profile cases, such as a Mississauga woman with a life-threatening allergy to marijuana smoke.

But these sorts of conflicts are exceedingly rare, and tend to be addressed using human rights laws.

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on thestar.com.

Please click here to read the complete story.


Date_Published
2018-10-22
Description

Deborah Howden Head ShotDewan v. Burdet, 2018 ONCA 195

Facts: A group of unit owners (the “Minority Owners”) claimed oppression by Claude-Alain Burdet (“Burdet”), the owner of a majority of the units in the corporation. The Minority Owners claimed that Burdet used his votes over the years and in his capacity as President, Treasurer
and Director of Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 396 (CCC 396), to benefit himself and his family at the expense of the Minority Owners and the corporation as a whole.

The trial judge found that Burdet oppressed the Minority Owners, was personally liable for the oppression, and terminated CCC 396 as a Condominium corporation. Burdet appealed those findings.

Please click here to read the rest of the story

Date_Published
2018-10-15
Description

Deborah Howden Head ShotFollowing the election of a new Provincial Government, the CCI-Toronto legislative Committee is working on behalf of all CCI members to ensure that we maintain the appropriate contacts with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, as well as all other Ministries which may impact the condominium industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Please click here to read the rest of the story

Date_Published
2018-10-15
Description

Warren Kleiner Head ShotCondominium directors on the board could benefit from additional training in governance issues beyond what mandatory education courses provide, Toronto condominium lawyer Warren Kleiner tells AdvocateDaily.com.

The Condominium Act 1998 requires that all directors appointed, elected, or re-elected on or after Nov. 1, 2017 complete a training program provided by the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) within six months to assist them in understanding their obligations and best practices for good governance, according to the CAO website.

“That gives directors a better understanding of how condos work, but there are often other issues we are asked to comment on when the board is having problems,” says Kleiner, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP in Toronto.

The Condominium Director Training Program, provided by the CAO, consists of 21 short modules, one of which specifically addresses “The Role of Directors and Their Key Responsibilities.” It covers the statutory obligations and corporate governance principles that guide directors, but Kleiner has some extra tips for prospective and current board members.

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story.

Date_Published
2018-10-09
Description

Armand Conant HeadshotSince it’s official launch, the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) has been busy providing support to the condo community, Toronto condominium lawyer Armand Conant writes in Condovoice magazine.

And, to continue to grow and improve, the authority is looking for suggestions from users to improve the system, says Conant, a partner and head of the condominium law group with Shibley Righton LLP.

“It is through feedback and input from all stakeholders that the CAO can best meet the needs of condo communities. The CAO looks forward to, and encourages, as much feedback as possible,” he says.

In addition to providing information about rights and responsibilities, the CAO offers “resources to help them identify and resolve common issues before they escalate into disputes,” says Conant.

The CAO also provides mandatory training for all condo directors elected, re-elected or appointed after Nov. 1, 2017, and offers the province’s first online dispute resolution system, the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), he explains.

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story
.

Date_Published
2018-10-03
Description

Megan Mackey Head ShotIn the final instalment of a three-part series, Toronto condominium and commercial litigator Megan Mackey discusses service agreements and penalty clauses.     

Securing a contractor for a project is one of the most important jobs a condominium corporation’s board is tasked with, Toronto condominium and commercial litigator Megan Mackey tells AdvocateDaily.com.

In this three-part series, Mackey, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP, shares some of her tips to help the process run more smoothly.

After selecting the preferred bidder, the condominium must get everything in writing in the form of a service contract, she says.

To ensure the time and effort taken to draw up detailed tendering documents is not wasted, Mackey says it’s crucial that the final terms of the contract reflect the scope and timing of the project.  

In addition, she says it’s important that both parties are on the same page when it comes to expectations for the final product.

For example, Mackey says many condominium boards enter renovation projects with the aim of exploiting government rebates designed to encourage energy-saving behaviour. However, the eligibility rules are often complicated and strict, she says.

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story.

Date_Published
2018-09-27
Description

Audrey Loeb Head ShotFor all those condominium owners who are hearing about the Toronto apartment dwellers who do not have insurance to pay their expenses to stay elsewhere while their apartment building’s electrical service is being repaired,  do not assume that you are protected by the condominium’s insurance. You are not. 

The same problem would happen for unit owners, who do not have their own insurance to cover this expense. 

The apartment dwellers are bringing a class action against the apartment building owners in an attempt to get compensation. However if this happened in a condominium and the owners decided to sue the condominium, the owners would be suing themselves so any money they recovered would be paid by them to them. 

Insurance for out of building living expenses when caused by an insured risk as well as insurance for items not included in the corporation standard unit listing and for the payment of insurance  deductibles is something no unit owner should be without. The costs of these losses can be very expensive. Unit owner insurance is relatively inexpensive.

Date_Published
2018-09-18
Description

Audrey Loeb Head ShotThe interests of condominium developers continue to supersede those of buyers although legislation offering more consumer protection waits to be proclaimed, Toronto condominium lawyer Audrey Loeb tells Law Times.

Indeed, a decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned a breakthrough 1999 decision for condo owners that "set a minimum standard of disclosure that has governed developer disclosure until recently," she says.

"While we wait, buyers continue to find themselves in condominium communities where the interests of the developers take precedence over those of the purchasers," Loeb says, adding recent amendments to legislation deal with issues in the industry, but they have not been proclaimed.

She says condominium law experts in Ontario have been urging the province to provide a requirement of good faith in developer disclosure obligations.

"The development industry has resisted this," says Loeb, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP. "We do not understand why franchise legislation in Ontario offers much better protection to franchisees than the Condominium Act does to homebuyers. The franchise legislation requires good-faith disclosure on the part of franchisors with significant repercussions for failure to comply."

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story.

Date_Published
2018-09-04
Description

Megan Mackey Head ShotIn the second instalment of a three-part series, Toronto condominium and commercial litigator Megan Mackey discusses how to choose a winning bid. 

Securing a contractor for a project is one of the most important jobs of a condo corporation’s board, Toronto condominium and commercial litigator Megan Mackey tells AdvocateDaily.com.

In this series, Mackey, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP, shares some of her tips to help the process run smoothly.

Once the bids are in, it’s time to pick a winner, she says, but boards should resist the temptation to automatically go with the lowest price.

“Not all bids are equal and you can get a wide discrepancy in prices, depending on the quality of the work and differences in scope and timing, among other things,” Mackey says. “Simply focusing on the cheapest option is not always going to be the best choice for the corporation.”

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story.

Date_Published
2018-08-28
Description

Deborah Howden Head ShotAn engaged board of directors can lay the foundation for healthy condo governance, Toronto condominium lawyer Deborah Howden tells AdvocateDaily.com.

One director is the president of the board of a 479-unit condo in the city and operates a blog that provides updates on the board’s activities and the building's day-to-day operations.

As well as giving residents a front-row seat to negotiations with vendors and matters of interest in the building, the blog also attracts a broader following from readers across the province who use it as a resource.

Howden, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP's Toronto office, says the blog’s content reflects the board’s hands-on approach, one that she says is unusual in corporations of a similar size.

“Directors of smaller corporations tend to be more engaged because they may not have an on-site property manager,” she says. “Whenever you have a high-rise with lots of units and underground parking, it comes with a certain amount of daily issues that are often left to a management company. But this board is very involved in the day-to-day running of the corporation, alongside management.

“Every condo community is unique, so they all have different needs, but here is a model where the duties aren’t completely carved up between the directors and the property managers. In my view, it creates a really balanced, healthy relationship,” she adds.

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story.

Date_Published
2018-08-21
Description

Audrey Loeb Head ShotThe increasing number of units being used as short-term rentals is causing headaches for condominium boards, says Toronto condominium lawyer Audrey Loeb.

And she predicts those headaches will continue until the Ontario government steps in.

"I just think the government should take a more active role in helping the condominium corporations in terms of legislative modifications," says Loeb, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP.

"I think this mess of short-term rentals and allowing units to be used as hotels is really not the original intent and purpose of condominiums," she tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Loeb says the City of Toronto enacted a bylaw earlier this year that would, among other things, only allow licensed short-term rentals on an owner's principal residence, but it is being challenged this month before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). "Whether that will result in anything changing I don't know," she says.

The bylaw states a portion of a unit can be rented if the owner lives in it.

Loeb says these short-term rentals are becoming more popular as an alternative to hotels. With "tons" of condominiums owned by investors, "it's a good way to make a lot of money."

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.

Please click here to read the rest of the story.

Date_Published
2018-08-15

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