Ever-changing world of condo law keeps Kleiner engaged


Toronto condominium lawyer Warren Kleiner’s practice area keeps him on his toes.

The most recent census estimated the city’s condo dwelling population to be 1.5 million people, or more than half of the total number of people living in Toronto, a figure that jumped from just under one million in 2011.

“More and more people are living in condos, and that kind of explosive growth means that the sorts of matters we’re dealing with are constantly changing and expanding,” Kleiner says. “There are always new issues, which makes it challenging, but also exciting.”

After graduating from Osgoode Hall Law School at the turn of the century, Kleiner, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP's Toronto office, received his call to the bar around the same time as Ontario’s Condominium Act 1998 came into force, revolutionizing the regulation of condos in the province.

Currently, his practice is focused on the fallout from the most recent revamp of the Act in late 2017, arguably its most significant since the law was introduced.

“That has changed things dramatically again,” Kleiner explains.

Despite that, he tells that a career in condo law wasn’t always on the cards for him. Indeed, he flirted with the idea of litigation while in law school.

“Condo law wasn’t really an option when I was called to the bar, and law school can’t really gear you towards that area of law,” Kleiner says.

However, he was introduced to condo law after developing a real estate practice at a small law firm on Bloor Street, where he acted for a number of purchasers with mould problems in their new conversion condos. Eventually, he joined condo law pioneer Audrey Loeb’s practice group at a large Bay Street firm and has not looked back.

In 2011, he took a break from the law to run a smoked meat restaurant in Montreal.

“I’ve always loved what I do, but I had an opportunity, and I felt I had to take it,” Kleiner says, adding that his legal background helped with the transition to business.

“It made it much easier to do what I had to without stress,” he says. “It was also fun to be on the other side of the table, and have my own lawyers to handle legal issues.”

After meeting his then fiancé, now wife, Kleiner returned to Toronto in 2014 and resumed his legal practice, bringing with him a new perspective on his work.

“The whole time away gave me a different appreciation of what I do, and somehow allowed me to approach it with greater confidence,” he says.

Kleiner slotted back into Loeb’s team, before making the move with her and a number of colleagues to Shibley Righton last year.

“The transition has been wonderful. We are a very close group, and the firm provides the ideal platform for us to practise from, with outstanding support that we can tap into in other areas of law when it’s needed for our condo clients,” he says.

The bulk of Kleiner’s practice involves assisting condominium boards and management companies on a variety of matters related to governance, including advising on bylaws, rules and agreements entered into by condo corporations.

“There are political aspects to what we do, that come up when you’re dealing with people’s communities,” he says. “When we’re giving advice to corporations, you have to keep in mind that it’s really on behalf of the entire corporation, and not just the board members, so you’re always taking into account how things will impact the larger community.”

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