Legal battles can be very costly
How much will it cost if you decide to battle your board through a
tribunal or the courts? It depends on what kind of case you have and
avenue you use to get the issue resolved.
Keep in mind, I strongly suggest that you get legal advice from an
experienced condo lawyer before you commence any legal action against
your condo corporation.
Human Rights Tribunal
If your issue involves human rights, you are in luck. Getting a hearing
costs an owner practically nothing. Not much of a downside to taking this route.
Small Claims Court
The types of cases varies from seeking to examine the corporation's documents, damage to your unit to defamation.
You can claim up to $25,000 so small claims is not small beer.
If your case is fairly straight forward, it could cost as little as
$200-300 to take the corporation to small claims. If your case is more
complicated, and you represent yourself, it will cost more to have a condo lawyer review your
materials and give you advice.
is expensive. A simple case can be as low as $8,000 and complicated
case can run up to $20-40,000 or even more. It depends. If the board
figures they can win by out-spending you, they can run the costs up.
The winner can count on getting 50-80% of their legal costs paid by the
loser while the losing side pays 100% of their own costs.
Mediators claim that they are cheaper than going to Superior Court but
mediation will only work if both sides negotiate in good faith and are
willing to compromise. If not, then mediation is a waste of time and
For example, if an owner is told that she has to get rid of her dog and
she is determined to keep the dog and will not sell her unit and move, there is not much a mediator can do.
Check your by-laws
Lawyers love to sell condos by-law packages and many of these packages
contain sections dealing with mediation. The wording may say that if
both sides cannot agree on a mediator, the condo corporation can select
Some by-laws call for the two sides to split the costs while others
leave it up to the mediator to decide which side pays what percentage
of the costs.
Going to arbitration can be as expensive as going to Superior Court. Both sides lawyer-up plus the parties must pay the arbitrator's expenses.
Check your by-laws
Its the same with arbitrators as it is with mediators. Your by-laws may
say that the condo has the final say on who the arbitrator will be.
That is like one side deciding who will be the judge.
The arbitrator decides who wins and who pays the costs.
Mediation & arbitration
The condo lawyers know who the mediators and arbitrators are and will pick one who they
believe will favour the condo. Individual owners do not have
the advantage of knowing these people so they will need to ask an independent condo lawyer to
help them select a mediator or arbitrator.
Finding a neutral mediator or arbitrator may be difficult. After all,
law firms and property management companies are repeat customers while
an owner is a one-shot client.
When this thing gets up and running, perhaps sometime in 2018, it
promises to be convenient, fast and affordable. Hopefully, most condo
disputes can be decided by the new tribunal. We will see.
If the board wins, you must pay up within the time limits stated in the
court judgment. Failure to do will result in the condo corporation
putting a lien on your unit.
However, if the condo corporation doesn't pay up, because the board does not want to, getting paid may be tricky.
One way to get paid, is to start a new lawsuit, The corporation cannot defend itself until they pay what they owe you.
The new Condo Act may have a provision that allows the owner to
deduct their unit's common expenses from the outstanding costs award.
I understand that this was done so the owner is given a way to collect
the money owed but it rewards the condo corporation who can take its
time paying the owner what it owes.