The apartment owner must also pay for the disruptive behavior of the tenant, says the tribunal
A recent Ontario court ruling should serve as a warning to homeowners who rent out their units that they could face a hefty bill if they don’t take action against problem tenants.
In a Feb. 10 decision, the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) found that both a tenant and a condominium owner are jointly responsible for what the judge called the tenant’s “pattern of annoying and disruptive behavior.”
Tribunal Deputy Chairman Michael Clifton awarded the company that manages the condominium building near Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue more than $26,000 in damages, with $8,551.50 as of Condo Owner and $18,239.60 payable by Condo Owner and Condo Renter.
“I find that respondents … caused or permitted noise and other nuisance that interfered with the comfort and quiet enjoyment of the units or common elements by other condominium owners and occupants,” Clifton wrote in his decision.
Landlord took no steps to address grievances: tribunal
According to the order, shortly after the tenant began renting the unit in June 2021, the condominium company received multiple complaints from residents and reports from security personnel.
Reported incidents included food containers left in the hallway causing “foul odors and tripping hazards” and “excessive noise” emanating from the unit, including “yelling, yelling, yelling, arguing, swearing, throwing objects, hitting and hitting.” Sounds .”
Complaints also included verbal abuse by condominium staff and failure to comply with the building’s COVID-19 regulations.
In all, the condominium company received reports or complaints of more than three dozen incidents.
I find that the defendants … caused or allowed noise and other nuisance to interfere with the comfort and quiet use of the units or common elements by other owners and occupants of the condominium. – Michael Clifton, Deputy Chairman of the Condominium Authority Tribunal
The tenant argued during the proceedings that he was “singled out” because of a “personal revenge” against him by an employee. But he provided little evidence to support those claims, Clifton wrote in his decision. Meanwhile, the homeowner had little involvement in the process, Clifton noted.
Based on the evidence presented at the hearing, Clifton concluded that the tenant and his roommate were a “highly disruptive presence in the condo.” He also accepted the condominium company’s claim that the apartment owner had taken “no steps” to stop the tenants’ behavior or evict him from the property, despite being briefed on multiple occasions.
“That is the undisputed statement of the parties [the condo owner] failed to take adequate steps to address the issue of its tenant’s longstanding non-compliance,” the decision said.
CBC Toronto contacted the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) to inquire if the landlord had ever filed documents evicting the tenant, but received no response as of the time of publication.
“You Have Obligations”
The attorney representing the case on behalf of the condominium company said the award was a warning to landlords and tenants.
“The expense surcharge here is a good example for owners and renters alike that they have responsibilities,” said Jonathan Miller, partner at Toronto law firm Shibley Righton LLP.
“If … they do not take reasonable steps to try to meet those obligations, they could face significant cost claims if the company has to assume that responsibility.”
Rodrigue Escayola, a partner at law firm Gowling WLG who was not involved in the case, agreed.
“Landlords cannot accept laissez faire approach when their tenant’s behavior violates applicable rules,” Escayola wrote in a blog post about the case.
“A failure on the part of a landlord to take proactive steps to ensure their tenants comply with applicable regulations can land them in very hot (and costly) waters.”
Varun Sriskanda, a board member of the Small Ownership Landlords of Ontario (SOLO) advocacy group, said court decisions that “unfairly punish” landlords for a tenant’s actions could have a deterrent effect on condo owners looking to rent out their units.
“Landlords are going to be very, very careful about who they let into their condos. It will create stricter rental requirements in a market that is already very difficult to rent,” Sriskanda said.
“Landlords who own condos will ask to see references from another landlord who owns a condo.”
Sriskanda said SOLO encourages landlords to “take immediate action” after learning of their tenants’ problematic behavior, including filing claims with the LTB.
However, he said landlords face a number of challenges in responding to problem tenants, particularly due to ongoing delays at LTB.
“Even if that landlord takes immediate steps to evict the tenant, it will be eight to 10 months before a hearing date is set,” he said.
“This tenant is still allowed to reside in the condominium and cause problematic behavior for the entire community.”