Question: Can Condo Corporation’s Charge Back For Legal Fees?

An overview of this important question has popped up on Mondaq by Justin McLarty of Miller Thomson LLP. The key points are below and if you’re interested you should check out the complete story here.

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In a recent decision by the Condominium Authority Tribunal’s (“CAT” or the “Tribunal”) in Peel Condominium Corporation No. 96 v. Psofimis, CAT awarded the corporation the legal fees it incurred against an owner.

The owner had a history of violating the corporation’s pet weight restrictions. The corporation took the traditional approach to enforcement with etters and correspondence, but were ignored. 

CAT ordered the owner to remove the dog from the property, and to pay $200 in filing fees to the corporation, the cost of the enforcement letter and the legal fees it incurred.

This finding was based on the owner’s deliberate and repeated refusals to comply with the corporation’s pet weight rules.

This establishes a basis to recover not only legal fees incurred during a CAT case itself. McLarty states there are a few things to be aware of to give clarity on the ability of corporations to recover compliance costs in matters that fall under CAT’s jurisdiction:

  1. Taking a progressive series of enforcement measures is important in almost all cases. In finding that the necessary exceptional circumstances to award legal costs existed in Psofimis, CAT appears to have placed considerable emphasis on the fact that the owner repeatedly failed to comply with the corporation’s efforts to obtain compliance.
  2. The costs of enforcement, whether incurred before or during a CAT case, may not always be recoverable in situations where it is not a clear-cut matter as to whether the owner’s conduct contravenes the corporation’s governing documents. In Psofimis the Tribunal found that there was a clear violation.
  3. The reasoning for the award of legal costs in Psofimis likely will not be easily transferrable to records disputes before CAT. The award of damages and legal costs seems to have been heavily driven by the owner’s clear and blatant disregard for the corporation’s rules.
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