Condo Act & Pest Damage
You may be able to bring an application for compliance and/or an oppression remedy under the Condominium Act, 1998, S.O. 1998, c. 19, as amended (the “Condo Act“).
By way of example, if a unit is known to be the cause of a pest infestation (e.g., bed bugs, cockroaches, etc.), and your unit (whether you are an owner/landlord or a tenant) is an affected unit (because of the spread of the infestation), the Condo (as represented by its board of directors) has a duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the owners and the occupiers of units comply with the Condo Act, the declaration, the by-laws, and the rules of the Condo.
Depending on the particular Condo, the declaration, by-laws, and rules of that Condo typically set out the obligations of owners to, among other things, repair and maintain their units. These obligations are also set out in the Condo Act. Failure to carry out these obligations will permit the Condo to act in place of the owners. Often times, Condo rules will also set out procedures to be taken in the event of a pest infestation.
Pursuant to the Condo Act, no person shall permit a condition to exist or carry on an activity in a unit if the condition or the activity is likely to damage the property or cause injury to an individual. Practically speaking, this means that unit owners need to ensure their units meet the minimum standards of health and safety. Living in unsanitary conditions that ultimately cause a pest infestation is arguably a condition that is likely to damage the property (including the units of other owners) or cause injury to an individual (e.g., bed bug bites).
Condo boards are urged to take these matters seriously as they could be exposed to liability for damages and legal costs if the pest issue is left “untreated”. If the Condo fails to act at all or to act reasonably in response to a complaint of pest infestation (especially if the infestation recurs), owners have remedies they could exercise against the Condo and other unit owners and/or occupiers (e.g., tenants), including obtaining an order from the court for a compliance order and/or an oppression remedy.
With respect to a compliance order, owners, occupiers of units, and the Condo alike may apply to the court for an order enforcing compliance with any provision of the Condo Act, the declaration, the by-laws, or the rules of the Condo. Compliance orders typically deal with enforcing the repair and maintenance obligations of owners, and can be an effective remedy to address pest infestation issues. Failure to comply may be grounds for forcing a unit owner to sell and vacate the Condo.
Similarly, an oppression remedy application under the Condo Act permits an owner or the Condo to obtain an order that is proper, including an order prohibiting certain conduct and requiring the payment of compensation. The court protects legitimate expectations of the owners and the Condo, and interprets the oppression remedy broadly in a way that the unit owners and their guests are protected from oppression.
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This article is provided for general information purposes and should not be considered a legal opinion. Clients are advised to obtain legal advice on their specific situations.