From time to time, sharing common elements and following community rules can lead to disagreements. However, there are ways to resolve disputes.
If you disagree with a policy taken by your condominium board, or feel the condo corporation is not being properly managed in some way, you have a number of options. You can:
Discuss your concern informally with members of the board or management
This is usually the best way to start and may be enough to solve the problem.
Write to the board requesting formal consideration of your concern
You may also ask to speak about your concern at a board meeting. Generally, only directors have a right to attend board meetings, but they can invite you if they wish.
Raise your concern at an annual general meeting of the owners
At an annual general meeting, an owner may ask to discuss anything about the condo corporation, like how it’s run, question about the condo property, etc. This is a good way to test if other owners share your concern.
Make your concern the topic of a special owners meeting
Owners may call on the board to have a special owners’ meeting, known as a requisition meeting. To do this unit owners have to send the board a written petition (known as a “requisition”) with the support of owners of at least 15% of the units in the condominium.
Mediation and arbitration
If a disagreement cannot be resolved in these ways, there are further steps you can take, like mediation, arbitration and other legal actions. The steps you take depend on the nature of your dispute.
In many cases, mediation is a mandatory first step. This is where a neutral facilitator is brought in to help work out a mutually-agreeable solution (mediation is the preferred approach because it’s often less costly than filing a case with the courts).
If mediation fails, binding arbitration is the next step. This is where an impartial person, an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators, conducts a hearing and makes a ruling on the issues in dispute. The people involved in the dispute bring evidence to this hearing and the arbitrator makes a binding decision. There are cases where an arbitration decision can successfully be appealed to a court.
Mediation and arbitration processes are sometimes called alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Mediators and arbitrators are listed in online directories (e.g., YellowPages.ca) and through organizations (e.g., ADR Institute of Ontario).
It may be in your best interest to cooperate with your condo corporation if it asks that you take part in mediation or arbitration to resolve a dispute.
Talk to your lawyer if you are considering legal action against your condo corporation. In most cases, you cannot take a condo corporation dispute to court without having tried mediation first.