Canada: Senior Living In Condominiums: 7 Things That Condo Corporations Need To Know Right Now

Last Updated: July 22 2014
Article by Karen Phung

It is no secret that Canada's population is aging.

We have all heard the news that more and more baby-boomers (born between 1946 and 1965) are retiring, or will be retiring, in the coming years. Right now, one in seven Canadians are over the age of 65. In 20 years, that number will increase to one in four. We also know that dementia, one of the most widespread mental health illnesses affecting this generation, is also on the rise. But what impact, if any, do these issues have on condominium corporations?

Here are 7 things condominium corporations need to know about Canada's aging population, and how seniors are impacting the condominium landscape:

(1) The number of seniors living in condominium buildings will increase

It is common for seniors to downsize their homes after they retire. The kids have moved out, there is more time to travel, and there is no longer a need (or a desire) to own and maintain a house.

Living in a condominium building is appealing to seniors because they come with fewer responsibilities and greater convenience. Seniors can rely on others for maintenance, repair and security services. Access to amenities is faster and more convenient. Limiting one's living space to a single floor and accessing an elevator makes it easier for those with sight, strength or balance problems to reduce their risk of injury. Condominium corporations can therefore expect a growing number of seniors purchasing units with a view to enjoying these benefits. This also means that the number of condominium owners suffering from age-related mental health illnesses will also increase.

(2) Seniors are living longer and more independent lives, which may translate to greater issues for condominiums

Not only is Canada's population aging, but seniors are also living longer and more independently (i.e., preferring to live on their own rather than with family members or in a care facility). Furthermore, a number of seniors have no children or other family members to care for them in their later years.

A desire for independence, combined with an inevitable decline in physical and cognitive functioning, may translate into greater problems for condominium corporations including access issues (i.e., to one's own unit and amenities), the undesirable use of the common elements (such as monopolizing or loitering), unhealthy dependency on property managers, and illness and/or abandonment. Condominium corporations need to be mindful of the kinds of issues that may arise when dealing with live-alone unit owners with age-related challenges.

(3) Condominiums have a duty to accommodate physical impairments and mental illnesses to the point of undue hardship

Physical impairments and mental illnesses (including dementia), constitute disabilities under section 10 of the Ontario Human Rights Code. Condominium corporations therefore have a legal obligation to accommodate these disabilities to the point of "undue hardship". What constitutes "undue hardship" will depend on the individual facts and circumstances of each case.

Those belonging to the baby-boomer generation are known for their strong views of how they expect to live their lives after retirement. Their expectations about independence will bring increased demands on condominium corporations to respond to accommodation requests so that they may maintain a certain lifestyle and level of freedom.

Corporations may have to allow certain changes to be made to an individual unit, or to modify the common elements to accommodate a unit owner's disability. This may include installing accessibility ramps or sound-proofing rooms. In all cases, however, it means that Corporations must respond to all accommodation requests in a meaningful and timely manner. Who pays for these accommodations may not always be easily ascertainable.

(4) Seniors with dementia and other mental illnesses may impact the way condominiums deal with compliance matters

Dementia may not only impact a person's memory and cognitive functioning, but it may also impair his or her day-to-day behaviour and conduct in the community. A unit owner who suffers from dementia may wander into another owner's unit without realizing it. He or she may cause noise, demonstrate aggressive or disruptive behaviours, and may also exhibit other inappropriate conduct such as hoarding.

However, enforcing compliance with the Act and the condominium's governing documents as against a person suffering from an age-related mental health illness is not as straightforward as enforcing against the habitual smoker or the music blaster from down the hall. There are laws that protect individuals with disabilities (in particular, the Human Rights Code), which may mean that strict enforcement may not be possible (or legal) in all situations. Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution to accommodation issues, condominiums must ensure they are meeting their obligations to avoid human rights complaints.

(5) Condominiums need to establish who is responsible for paying for the accommodation

Condominium corporations will have to determine who is responsible for paying the bill for alterations or modifications that result from accommodation requests. Does the corporation pay the bill out of its operating or reserve fund, or can the amount be charged back to the unit in the same manner as common expenses? Under what circumstances should the corporation levy a special assessment?

Whether a condominium corporation can charge back the cost incurred for accommodation is determined on a case-by-case basis and largely depends on the nature of the request and what the condominium documents provide. Typically, if accommodation is made to a resident's own unit and is for his or her exclusive use, it will be the unit owner's responsibility to pay. If the accommodation requires a change to a non-exclusive use common element, such as installing a front entrance ramp, the corporation may have to foot the bill.

(6) Condominiums need to be proactive, not reactive

Condominiums should adopt a proactive rather than reactive approach to these impending issues. Below are some things that condominium corporations should be doing right now:

  • Establish and implement appropriate policies and procedures for dealing with residents who have age-related disabilities that may need accommodation
    These policies should include protocols for information-gathering, submitting accommodation requests, responding to accommodation requests, obtaining consents, and involving third party professionals where necessary. The corporation's lawyer should be consulted about the best way to draft and implement these policies, keeping in mind that these policies may change over time.
  • Encourage early disclosure of health-related needs and requests for accommodation
    The Corporation could create a standard form for recording this information. Senior residents should also be required to provide management with up-to-date contacts in the event of an emergency and in case consent is needed. This way, the corporation will be in a better position to anticipate problems and respond accordingly. This information could be included in the Owner's and Tenant's Information forms, in those buildings which use them.
  • Know your resources
    There should be a protocol in place for contacting the appropriate family member, third party medical professional, or the police. There are a number of resources available to condominium corporations and their residents (including Community Care Access Centers, Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams, and Geriatric Mental Health Services). Condominiums should also take steps to familiarize themselves, senior unit owners and their families of these community resources in cases of emergency or non-emergency.
  • Encourage small changes that will have a big impact on resident safety
    Making small changes to a senior resident's unit may have great impacts on their safety and day-to-day living. Some examples include installing safety rails in the shower, applying non-slip mats in the tub, and using fire-safe appliances with automatic shut off features.
  • Document everything
    Corporations need to implement a protocol for maintaining a detailed and consistent record of all accommodation requests and the Corporation's response to those requests. Such a record will be important to demonstrate the Corporation's efforts to comply with its legal obligations.

(7) The time to prepare is now

Condominium corporations should not wait to establish and implement the appropriate policies and procedures for dealing with these issues. As we move into a time where the demands on condominium corporations is becoming greater than ever before, condominiums should be prepared to deal with these issues head on, and with the confidence that the right systems have been put in place.


Reducing the costs of Notices: A corporation can provide notice to an owner by e-mail where the owner has consented to receiving correspondence by e-mail. Consider seeking an owner's written consent at the annual general meeting. Prepare a form on which an owner can indicate agreement to receiving correspondence from the corporation by e-mail. Additionally, if notices can go under the unit's entry door, or into a mailbox, the corporation can deliver notice by either of these means unless the owner objects to that form of delivery or the owner is a non-resident on the records of the corporation.

New Owners at the AGM: Something the chairperson of an owners' meeting might want to do while votes for directors are being counted is ask all owners who have recently moved into the community to introduce themselves. This small gesture can go a long way in getting new owners interested and involved in the affairs of the corporation, while also enhancing the sense of community.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Karen Phung
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions