Consider the issues

Thinking of Buying a Condo?

Condo life also includes sharing common areas with other residents and following by-laws and rules that are set by the condo corporation. It's important to understand how a condominium corporation is established and operates, so you know what to expect from condominium living.

Top 10 Common Issues

1. NOISE

  • Noise complaints are one of the most common condo issues. In many instances, living in a condominium will mean living close to your neighbours, and sounds from one unit can travel into another unit or into the common elements.Unwanted noise is usually caused by either:
     
  • someone else’s behaviour; or the design and construction of the building, such as a lack of sound proofing, or noisy features like elevators or garbage chutes.
     
  • Examples of common noise issues include:
     
  • Neighbours playing loud music or having a party.
     
  • Noises created by pets, such as a barking dog.
     
  • Noises created by children running or screaming.
     
  • Loud noises coming from adjacent common elements.
     
  • If you suspect that your noise issue may be caused by another resident's pet, you may be dealing with a common pets issue. If you are having an issue with unwanted noise, you should begin tracking the dates and times that the sound is occurring. This may help identify the source or cause of the noise.
     

2. ODOURS

  • Complaints about unpleasant or unwanted odours are a common condo issue. In many instances, living in a condominium will mean living close to your neighbours, and smells can sometimes travel from one unit into another or into the common elements. Odours are often caused by someone’s behaviour – for example, cooking or smoking are common causes of odour complaints. They can also be a result of maintenance issues, such as mould or a malfunction with the garbage chute. Sometimes, it can be difficult to identify the source of an odour.
     
  • Examples of common odour issues include:
     
  • The smell of mould or moisture in a unit or in the building’s common elements.
     
  • Cooking smells from one unit are travelling into the common elements or into another unit.
     
  • The smell of smoke (most often from tobacco) is causing a nuisance.
     

3. SHORT TERM RENTALS (AIRBNB)

  • As the sharing economy becomes more and more popular, many people have begun using their condos for short-term rentals through services like Airbnb. Short-term rentals can sometimes lead to issues in condo communities, as people renting condos may be disruptive to other residents and may not follow the condo rules.
     
  • Examples of short-term rental disputes include: 
     
  • Renters causing issues within the building;
     
  • An owner or resident wanting to use their condo for short-term rentals, but there may be a restriction in the condo’s declaration or rules against it;
     
  • An owner or resident continues to use their condo for short-term rentals despite a prohibition in the condo’s declaration or rules against it;
     
  • An owner or resident was originally told they could host short-term rentals, but the board has since changed the rule;
     
  • There is a security concern about residents sharing keys with short-term rental tenants.
     
  • It is important to note that there is a difference between short and longer-term rentals. Short-term rentals are usually for a period of a few days and a month, while longer term rentals are usually for a period of a few months and years. The rules can be very different for short and long-term rentals.  
     
  • To find out more, read about important information for landlords.
     

4. NEIGHBOUR TO NEIGHBOUR

  • Living in a condominium community means that you may sometimes be unhappy with something one of your neighbours has done. Oftentimes, these issues can be easily resolved by talking to your neighbour, as they may be unaware that what they are doing is causing a disturbance.
     
  • Other times, collaboration and compromise may be necessary to ensure a positive and enjoyable condominium community. Resolving disputes quickly and with consideration for your neighbours ensures your condo remains a wonderful place to live.
     
  • If you and your neighbour cannot resolve the issue yourselves, it may be necessary to involve your condo corporation.
     
  • Examples of common neighbour to neighbour disputes include: 
     
  • There is disagreement about the use of shared facilities (hallways, pool, gym, party room etc.);
     
  • Your neighbour is creating noises that are a nuisance; 
     
  • Cigarette butts or garbage ends up on a neighbour’s property; or,
     
  • Your neighbour is doing something contrary to a by-law or rule.

5. RECORDS

  • As a condo unit owner, you have a right to access certain records about how your condo corporation is run and managed. Prospective buyers and agents also have a right to access certain records. Condominium directors must ensure that certain records are kept for a prescribed period.
     
  • As of November 1, 2017, there is a new, mandatory form that must be used to request access to, or copies of, condominium corporation records. You can use this form to request copies of records and to indicate whether you would like electronic or paper copies.
     
  • Under the Condominium Act, 1998, you have a right to access :
     
  • The financial records of your corporation;
     
  • The minute book containing the minutes of owners' meetings and the minutes of board meetings;
     
  • Your condo corporation’s declaration, by-laws, and rules;
     
  • A copy of any return or notice that the corporation has filed with the CAO;
     
  • All lists, items, records and other documents from your condo corporation’s turn-over meeting;
  • A list of the names of the owners of each unit in the corporation and their address for service
     
  • The budget for the first fiscal year;
     
  • All reserve fund studies and all plans to increase the reserve fund;
     
  • All agreements entered by or on behalf of the corporation; 
     
  • All instruments appointing a proxy or ballots for a meeting of owners that are submitted at the meeting; and,
     
  • Other records as specified in regulations or your condo corporation’s by-laws.
     
  • Recent changes to Ontario Regulation: 48/01 have expanded the types of records that owners, purchasers, and mortgagees have a right to access.
     
  • Examples of common records issues include:
     
  • You are unable to get access to a record; or,
     
  • You disagree with the fee your condo corporation is charging for access to the records.
     

6. PETS

  • Pets are an important part of many people's lives. For many condo residents, a pet is a member of their family.
     
  • However, conflicts around pets can arise in condominiums. Problems may arise when residents don't pick up after their pets. Many condo buildings have rules around the types of pets people can keep in their condo unit. Noise complaints are one of the most common condo issues.
     
  • Examples of common pet issues include:
     
  • A resident has a pet that is not permitted.
     
  • A resident has a pet that is causing a nuisance.
     
  • A resident has a pet, but that resident is not cleaning up after the pet.
     
  • A resident has a pet that is dangerous, such as a poisonous snake.
     
  • Service Animals
     
  • A service animal is an animal that assists a person with a disability. Service animals are not considered "pets," and are protected by Ontario’s Human Rights Code. Dogs are the most common species of service animals, but any type of animal can be a service animal.
     
  • Service animals provide a variety of assistance. They may lead a person with a visual disability, or they may help calm a person who has post-traumatic stress disorder.
     
  • The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination based on disability, which means that a condo cannot prevent a resident from keeping a service animal.
     
  • Most service animals can be easily identified from vests or harnesses, but a condo corporation may also request to see a note from a doctor or nurse which identifies the person's need for a service animal, which may otherwise look like a normal pet.
     

7. ISSUES WITH CONDO MANAGER

  • A condominium corporation’s board of directors makes decisions about the corporation on behalf of the owners. While the board is ultimately responsible for making all decisions about the corporation and its management, many boards hire someone to carry out the day-to-day operations. This person is called a condominium manager.
     
  • Condo managers are responsible for overseeing the corporation’s day-to-day operations. Different types of condominiums have different management needs, depending on the size, age and nature of the property. Condo managers are accountable to the condo board, and the board is responsible for making sure that the condo manager is effectively performing their role.
     
  • Condo managers often have a wide range of responsibilities, and may:
     
  • collect common expenses fees
     
  • keep records for the condo corporation
     
  • respond to owner complaints
     
  • ensure maintenance and repair of the property
     
  • hire and monitor service companies and oversee staff and contractors
     
  • prepare draft annual budgets and oversee the reserve fund use
     
  • implement an emergency management plan and respond to emergencies
     
  • prepare status certificates
     
  • issue meeting notices and report on the affairs of the corporation
     
  • organize board meetings and oversee administration of all owners' meetings
     
  • monitor the corporation’s insurance
     
  • prepare financial reports and arrange for audits
     
  • advise the board on how to comply with the Condominium Act, 1998, legislated or mandatory repairs required by the government, and/or the financial responsibilities of the board (e.g., contributions to the reserve fund and long-term reserve fund planning)
     
  • In many condominium corporations, owners and residents will have more frequent contact with their manager than with their board.
     
  • Some common condo management issues are:
     
  • A condo manager has entered units without proper permission or notice.
     
  • Owners or residents feel that the condo manager is impolite, rude, or abusive.
     
  • Owners or residents feel that the condo manager is dismissive or is ignoring their concerns.
     

8. RULES

  • Condominium corporations and owners must comply with a number of different requirements. These requirements are set out in a series of documents:  
     
  • the Condominium Act, 1998 (“the Act”), and its Regulations;
     
  • the Declaration of the condominium corporation;
     
  • the By-laws of the condominium corporation; and
     
  • the Rules of the condominium corporation;
     
  • Read about the Declaration, By-laws and Rules and find out how these four documents relate to one another.
     
  • Condo corporations can establish rules to:
     
  • promote the safety, security, and welfare of the owners, and of the property and the assets of the corporation; or
     
  • prevent unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of the common elements, the units or the assets of the corporation.
     
  • For example, a condo may have rules that: 
     
  • establish the minimum duration of a tenancy agreement;
     
  • limit the number or size of pets allowed in the building; or
     
  • restrict residents’ ability to smoke in the building.
     
  • The condominium’s board of directors can make, amend or repeal a rule. To do so, the board must provide owners with a notice that includes the proposed rule and the date that the rule is proposed to become effective.
     
  • Owners must abide by the rules of the condo corporation. This can occasionally lead to issues, as some owners may not be familiar with their condo corporation’s rules, or may disagree with them.
     
  • Examples of common issues with rules include:
     
  • An owner or resident is breaking a rule and it is causing a disturbance
     
  • An owner would like to amend or repeal a rule
     
  • The board of directors is proposing a rule that owners disagree with
     

9. MEETINGS

  • Condos hold different types of meetings for a number of different purposes. For example, the condo’s board of directors meets regularly to discuss the business of the condo and to make decisions affecting the community. Condos also might hold periodic information meetings, where they invite all the owners and residents to discuss a recent issue in the community or to give an update on upcoming changes.
     
  • Find out more information on the different types of meetings.
     
  • Issues can sometimes arise in regards to meetings, particularly at meetings where items are being voted on or where business is being conducted, as people may disagree with the way the meeting is being conducted or the decisions being made.
     
  • Examples of common meetings issues include:
     
  • Owners feeling like they have been left out of the decision-making process.
     
  • An insufficient number of owners attend and quorum cannot be established.
     
  • An owner wants to have an item added to the agenda, but the board refuses.
     
  • Issues with proxy forms and people voting on behalf of owners who are not present.
     

10. PERSONAL PROPERTY

  • Generally speaking, owners and residents are usually prohibited from storing their personal property in a condominium corporation’s common elements. Likewise, owners and residents usually have a right to store their personal property in their units. There are, however, a number of important exceptions that you should be aware of. 
     
  • For example, many condo owners or residents are surprised to learn that they cannot store their property on their balcony, or that they cannot use their parking space to store anything other than a vehicle.  
     
  • These types of issues typically arise because the condo corporation has a rule that prohibits that kind of activity in the common elements, and sometimes within the units themselves.   
     
  • Examples of common issues with personal property and objects include: 
     
  • An owner or resident has left personal property in the common elements (for example, an owner or resident has placed a plant or decorations in the hallways) 
     
  • An owner or resident is using an exclusive use common element (like a balcony) to store personal items, contrary to the rules. 
     
  • An owner or resident is keeping dangerous materials in their unit.