Q: Ten years ago, we purchased a second-floor condo unit
with a beautiful river valley view. The gardening
committee recently had new trees and shrubs planted, including a
large tree that blocks our window. We bought the condo unit
specifically for the view. What recourse do we have?
A: You probably have no recourse, as you do not
own a view. In answering, I am assuming that the lands in front of
your building are common property and the condominium corporation
was within its rights to plant trees and shrubs.
Helpful hint: Your situation is akin
to someone who lives in a highrise building, and then another
building is erected across the street, blocking the view. This
happens, and there is unfortunately nothing you can do to prevent
Q: If, in the future, we revise our bylaws to include a
no-smoking bylaw, what would be the legal, fair and responsible
approach for enforcing this for residents that are
A: Generally, most condominium corporations
grandfather current owners so that their rights are not affected at
all. There is nothing wrong with putting forward a transition time
period in which they would be expected to comply with the new
non-smoking bylaw. What that transition period would be will depend
on the wishes of the owners and those affected. Both approaches are
Helpful hint: Unfortunately, there was
nothing in the proposed amendments to the Condominium Property Act
that addressed the issue of smoking. However, there is nothing
preventing a condominium corporation from amending their bylaws to
ensure that smoking is not permitted anywhere on condominium
corporation property or within the units.
Q: I have recently moved into a condominium complex of
13 units. Are there any companies that will offer assistance for
the initial set up of the association and board?
A: There are a number of reputable property
managers who will provide you with the level of assistance you are
requiring, and the type of assistance you are looking for can be
laid out by way of agreement. If a certain property manager is not
interested in assisting you in that regard, then move on and find
Helpful hint: The condominium
corporation is the client, and you can ask the property manager to
provide you with the level of service you want and are willing to
Q: Last winter, our condo board had the snow from the
parking lot of our 132-unit condo complex piled into two of the
four handicap parking spaces in the parking lot. Is it legal to
render the designated handicap parking spaces unusable for many
A: You cannot use handicap parking stalls as a
storage area for snow or other things. I believe what the
condominium corporation was doing was just trying to save costs so
that the snow didn't need to be hauled away, but this is wrong.
We live a winter climate and it is a legitimate expense to have the
snow hauled away. If this continues, as an owner, you could contact
bylaw services of your municipality to make a complaint that the
handicap stalls are being misused by the condominium
Helpful hint: Handicap stalls are in
place for a real reason and they are not a storage facility.
Q: My condo board is considering getting a line of
credit for times of the year when operating costs are
higher. The idea is that any extra money owing would be
returned in months when spending is lower. The only asset that the
corporation has is the reserve fund. The bank advised that they
could take a portion of the reserve fund and use it as security for
a line of credit. Does the Condominium Property Act allow for this
type of transaction?
A: There is nothing under the Condominium
Property Act that deals with the issue of borrowing money; you need
to refer to your bylaws. If your bylaws are silent on the issue of
borrowing, then the condominium corporation does not have the power
to borrow money. I question the need, though, to even open a line
of credit. It would appear to me that the condominium corporation
may have some challenges when it comes to budgeting. Perhaps your
condominium fees are too low and you require an increase so that
you don't get into these low dips. The concept of borrowing in
this scenario does not make a lot of sense to me.
Helpful hint: There is a huge cost to
borrowing money which all owners have to pay for. As an owner, I
would question the validity in needing to borrow money if in fact
the condominium corporation is budgeting appropriately.
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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