Municipal by-laws set out rules to help form the basis for orderly living in a community. Municipal by-laws address a number of things including: what use can be made of a property (for example, whether you can run a business there or whether it can be used only for residential purposes); the number and kinds of pets a person can have, and; property standards (for example, maintenance and repair issues, storage of things on the property, and guarding against unsafe conditions).
The Condominium Act, 1998, and a condominium corporation’s declaration, by-laws and rules, also set out things that help form the basis for orderly living in a community. Like municipal by-laws they also address, among other things, what use can be made of the property, the number and kinds of pets a person can have, and property standards. In addition, however, a condominium corporation’s declaration, by-laws and rules act as an individual code which governs, regulates, and helps create and define the character of individual condominium communities.
Even though something might be permitted under a municipal by-law, a condominium declaration, by-law or rule can still prohibit the same thing. For example, City of Toronto By-Law 349 (which is the City of Toronto by-law that deals with animals) permits people to keep up to a maximum of three dogs, however, if a condominium declaration in Toronto states that no pets are permitted, then a person living in the condominium is not allowed to keep any dogs on the property. Another example is that a municipal by-law might permit signs or advertisements, but if the condominium declaration or rule prohibits signs and advertisements, then a person in the condominium is not allowed to display any.
Municipal by-laws and condominium documents may address the same problem and provide alternate means of enforcement. For example, municipal by-laws may address what noise a person can make and when. Depending on the type of noise or disturbance it could be the police or someone else who can be called to enforce the by-law. Similarly, condominium declarations and rules almost always stipulate that a person cannot make noise that disturbs the enjoyment by other people of the units and common elements. In such a case the Condominium Act, 1998, provides that mediation/arbitration or court proceedings can be commenced to address a contravention.
Condominium declarations, by-laws and rules almost always stipulate that a person cannot do something on the condominium property that contravenes a municipal by-law. If there is a contravention of a municipal by-law on condominium property, the issue can be dealt with as a breach of the Condominium Act, 1998, declaration, by-law or rule.
Condominium disputes are rarely confined to a single contravention of a municipal by-law, and are rarely settled simply by enforcing the municipal by-law. Condominium disputes most often need to be addressed under the enforcement procedures in the Condominium Act, 1998. These procedures are specifically designed to deal with condominium disputes, and take into account the myriad of interests in a condominium corporation such as costs, personal relations, and consistency of enforcement. It is important to remember in this context that the party who commences enforcement proceedings under the Condominium Act, 1998 is able to help craft a solution to the problem that is appropriate to the condominium. When in doubt consult your condominium lawyer!
Section 132 of the Condominium Act, 1998 mandates that, among other things, any dispute that arises between a condominium corporation and a unit owner with respect to the condominium corporation’s declaration, by-laws and/or rules, may be subject to mediation and/or arbitration. Unfortunately, the legislation does not provide condominium corporations with a set procedure to follow for both the mediation and arbitration process. The establishment of a procedure process has been left up to each condominium corporation to develop and pass by a by-law. If a dispute arises prior to the enactment of a Mediation/Arbitration Procedures By-law, the respective parties will be without a set procedure to follow, and they will be forced to come to some sort of agreement as to the process at that time. It is therefore highly advisable to have this procedure process in place before a dispute develops.