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Injunctions make good neighbours: Ottawa-Carleton Standard Condominium Corporation No. 671 v Friend

5 minute read

A recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal serves as a reminder that where a unit owner harasses condominium directors, employees, or residents, condominium corporations have the option of seeking relief from the courts.

In Ottawa-Carleton Standard Condominium Corporation No. 671 v Friend, the Ontario Court of Appeal recently upheld an injunction prohibiting the appellant condominium owners from harassing a number of individuals.[1]

For approximately a decade, the appellant, Mr. Friend, had been embroiled in a dispute with the directors and employees of the Ottawa condominium in which he owned units. He had refused to follow the condominium’s by-laws and rules, interfered with contractors attempting to carry out work in the building, exhibited harassment and rude behaviour toward the condominium’s directors and employees, and physically accosted the President of the Board of Directors.

This dispute had led the parties to court previously. In 2013, the Ontario Superior Court heard an application and cross-application between Mr. and Ms. Friend, and the condominium corporation. The corporation sought orders related to the payment of the cost of installation of a water meter, and for compliance with the condominium’s by-laws (as the Friends had breached the by-laws by throwing snow from their terrace, improperly storing recreational equipment, and placing planters on their balcony railing). Mr. and Ms. Friend sought an oppression remedy. The Superior Court found in favour of the corporation, granting, among other things, an order requiring the Friends to comply with the condominium by-laws.[2]

In 2019, the respondent condominium corporation obtained an interim injunction restricting Mr. Friend from communicating with people he had harassed or accosted. When Mr. Friend did not cease his behaviour, the corporation sought a permanent injunction through an application under s. 134(1) of the Condominium Act, 1998, which allows a condominium corporation to make an application to the Superior Court for an order enforcing compliance with, among other things, any provision of the Condominium Act or the condominium’s declaration, by-laws, or rules.

The application judge found that Mr. Friend had violated s. 117 of the Condominium Act, which prohibits activity that is likely to cause injury to an individual. The reference to “injury” was held to include psychological harm. The application judge ordered a permanent injunction against Mr. Friend, prohibiting him from communicating with members of the condominium community and their families, on this basis.

Mr. and Ms. Friend appealed the granting of the injunction. They advanced several grounds of appeal, all of which were rejected by the Court of Appeal:

  • The Friends submitted that the application judge had no jurisdiction to order a permanent injunction because there was no underlying action. The Court disagreed, finding the application was properly brought under the Condominium Act.
  • The Friends submitted that the application judge had failed to apply the proper legal test. The Court found that, while the legal test was not referred to by the application judge, the order made was authorized by s. 134(3) of the Condominium Act, which permits the granting of “such other relief as is fair and equitable in the circumstances.” The order was “fair and equitable” based on the findings related to Mr. Friend’s behaviour, including his continued misconduct after the interim injunction was ordered.
  • The Friends submitted that the application was unfair because they were denied an adjournment, and because the application judge did not consider Mr. Friend’s position on contentious matters. The Court disagreed. An adjournment decision is discretionary and entitled to deference. Further, the materials Mr. Friend had filed were largely unresponsive and irrelevant to the issues on the application.
  • The Friends submitted that the proceeding ought to have been converted to an action. The Court disagreed, as the material facts either were admitted to or not addressed by Mr. Friend.

This decision is a helpful reminder that the courts are available to assist condominium corporations facing difficult behaviour by a unit owner. Condominium corporations have a number of options to seek resolution of different types of disputes, such as mediation, arbitration, and application to the Condominium Authority Tribunal. However, some matters are exclusively within the jurisdiction of the courts under the Condominium Act, including the ability to grant an injunction, and a court application remains the only option for a condominium corporation or unit owner seeking to remedy harassing conduct under the Condominium Act.[3] While turning to the courts frequently may be seen as a costly or last resort, condominium corporations should not forget it as an important weapon in their arsenal of dispute resolution options.

[1] 2021 ONCA 666.

[2] Ottawa-Carleton Standard Condominium Corporation No. 671 v Friend, 2013 ONSC 5775.

[3] At the time of writing this post, the Condominium Authority Tribunal only accepts applications involving condominium records, pets and animals, vehicles, parking and storage, and settlement agreements. However, the Tribunal’s jurisdiction is frequently expanding. Effective January 1, 2022, the Tribunal’s jurisdiction will expand to include disputes related to unreasonable nuisances, annoyances or disruptions, including noise, odour, light, vibrations, smoke, and vapour, under a new s. 117(2) of the Condominium Act. Readers are encouraged to check the current status of the Tribunal’s jurisdiction before proceeding

Rebecca Shoom

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