Gerry Hyman has a new article for the Toronto Star. Let’s discuss some of the questions brought up in it.
QUESTION: Our declaration provides that units may only be occupied as single family residences and we have rules setting out rental requirements. We don’t seem able to be able to achieve enforcement in order to prevent short-term rentals. What should we do?
ANSWER: The single family provision in the declaration will not prevent owners from renting their units on a short-term basis, provided each rental is to only one family. If your corporation’s declaration or a rule does not provide for a reasonable minimum rental period, such as one year or six months, a rule to that effect may be passed. Such rules have received court approval as reasonable way of preventing transitory or hotel-type rentals inconsistent with the intended use of the units. Mediation pursuant to the Condominium Act may be required with an owner who fails to comply. Should the offending owner not agree in the mediation to end the offending rentals, the matter will proceed to arbitration. The arbitrator will render a binding decision and may order the offending owner to pay some or all of the corporation’s legal and arbitration costs.
The problem here is that the Condominium Act does not specifically dictate the minimum length of rentals, although Section 83 deals with the minimum requirements of a rental:
(a) notify the corporation that the unit is leased;
(b) provide the corporation with the lessee’s name, the owner’s address and a copy of the lease or renewal or a summary of it in the form prescribed by the Minister; and
(c) provide the lessee with a copy of the declaration, by-laws and rules of the corporation.
Termination of lease
(2) If a lease of a unit is terminated and not renewed, the owner of the unit shall notify the corporation in writing.
Records of notices
(3) A corporation shall maintain a record of the notices that it receives under this section.
This is helpful, but the Act should be amended to allow for a one year lease requirement. This is the only way to stop problems like this from occurring. However, an additional option is to amend the Act to also state that the Condominium Act, and a condominium’s Declaration, Description, By-laws, and Rules overrule the Residential Tenancies Act. This makes it clear cut that tenants cannot do what they like in a condominium.
QUESTION: Our condo is changing the main entrance door access system from key entry to fobs. The property manager advises that in order to increase security owners will not be entitled to purchase extra fobs for their own use. Is that legal?
ANSWER: The decision must be made by the board and not the property manager and should be the subject of a rule. The rule must be reasonable. A rule that limits the number of fobs in a manner that prevents access by family members occupying a unit would not be valid.
The limit to the number of fobs should be reasonable. However, while it seems reasonable to limit the number of fobs to the number of people actually living in a unit, it does help to have a trusted friend or family member have a set of keys to your unit – which includes a fob if the person lives outside the condominium. This is especially the case if you are travelling and a friend is looking after the unit for unit. You need a fob to access your unit when you get home, but how is your friend, a non-resident, supposed to gain access the unit to make sure everything is okay, to check the mail, etc. unless that person also has a fob?
The prime example of when a non-resident may require a key is with an elderly couple that lives in a unit. Does this mean that they can only have two fobs, and their children, especially any acting as a power of attorney, should not have a fob in case of emergency? So, yes it is a good idea to limit the number of fobs, but it should not be too limited either. You need to be reasonable, as there are situations where a reliable non-resident may need to have a fob.