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Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation No. 2696 v. Tewolde - 2023 ONCAT 79 - 2023-06-14

Corporation:

TSCC 2696

Date:

2023-06-14

Under:

CAT Decisions - Dismissal Order
Compliance with Governing Documents
Odour
Other Type of Nuisance, Annoyance or Disruption
Procedural Issue with Governing Documents

Summary:

In the case of Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation No. 2696 v. Tewolde, the condominium corporation, Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation No. 2696, filed an application against the respondent alleging that the respondent continuously violated section 117(2) of the Condominium Act, 1998. The violations included hoarding, pest infestations (fruit flies, cockroaches, and rodents), and odour emanating from the respondent's unit, which the corporation claimed created fire risks and nuisances, thus contravening the Act and various provisions in the declaration and rules. The corporation sought a compliance order, pest control costs, legal indemnification, and other cleaning costs.

The tribunal raised a preliminary jurisdictional issue, as the allegations in the application primarily concerned health and safety issues, specifically fire risks and pest infestations, covered under section 117(1) of the Act, over which the tribunal had no jurisdiction. While the application mentioned odour issues, it had not been a significant concern until the application was filed. The tribunal found that the matter could not be characterized as an odour nuisance under section 117(2) of the Act and that the issues raised were beyond the tribunal's jurisdiction. Therefore, the tribunal issued a dismissal order.

Verdict:

In the case of Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation No. 2696 v. Tewolde, the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) issued a Dismissal Order due to the case falling outside the CAT's jurisdiction. The dispute involved health and safety issues, specifically fire risk and pest infestation, which are governed by Section 117(1) of the Condominium Act, 1998, and not within the CAT's purview. The CAT emphasized that it could not address the odour issue separately as it was intrinsically tied to the health and safety concerns. Therefore, the CAT dismissed the case, suggesting that other avenues might be more appropriate for addressing these specific concerns.




Takeaways:

In the case of Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation No. 2696 v. Tewolde, the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) issued a Dismissal Order, highlighting several key takeaways:

Jurisdictional Limits: The CAT can only address disputes that fall within its legal jurisdiction. It does not have authority over matters falling under Section 117(1) of the Condominium Act, 1998, which pertains to health and safety issues and the creation of fire risks.

Nuisance Definition: The case involved allegations of hoarding causing pest infestation and odour nuisances. While odour issues typically fall within the CAT's jurisdiction, in this case, the health and safety concerns, such as fire risk and pest infestation, were inextricably linked to the odour problem.

Health and Safety Matters: Health and safety issues should be addressed under Section 117(1) of the Act, not Section 117(2) that deals with nuisances, annoyances, or disruptions.

Clear Problem Description: The problem description in an application is crucial. Issues not clearly identified before the Tribunal's proceedings might affect the CAT's jurisdiction to address them.

Dismissal of Case: Due to the health and safety nature of the issues involved, the CAT dismissed the case, emphasizing that other avenues might be more appropriate for addressing these concerns.




Recommendations: 

Review and Consult Legal Expertise: The dismissal of this case was primarily due to jurisdictional issues. Therefore, for individuals or condominium corporations involved in disputes that may involve health and safety issues, it is essential to consult with legal experts who specialize in condominium law to understand the specific provisions and legal framework governing such disputes. This can help in determining the appropriate legal avenues for addressing concerns related to fire risk and other health and safety issues.

Effective Communication and Early Action: The Applicant in this case brought forward the issue of odour only when filing the application with the Tribunal. To prevent potential jurisdictional issues, it is advisable to address concerns early through effective communication with the unit owner. If a nuisance, annoyance, or disruption arises, documenting these issues and seeking legal advice promptly is crucial. It's important to clearly identify and address all potential concerns at the outset to ensure they are appropriately dealt with within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal or other applicable authorities.

Understand the Tribunal's Jurisdiction: Understanding the jurisdiction of the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) is vital. The CAT has specific powers and limitations, and it's essential to be aware of these boundaries when filing applications. Before taking a dispute to the CAT, condominium corporations and unit owners should thoroughly review the Condominium Act, 1998, and related regulations to ensure that the issues raised fall within the CAT's jurisdiction. If the issues have elements of health and safety that fall under section 117(1) of the Act, it's crucial to address them through other appropriate channels, such as local authorities or regulatory bodies.

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