Your condo board gets on your case

It is now time to talk about what you should do if the manager sends you an e-mail or letter stating:
• you are in arrears in your common expenses.
• you are in violation of the declaration, by-laws or rules.
• your dog has been declared a nuisance and you got two weeks to
  remove the animal from the property.

It is important to speak to the manager and get the issue resolved. You need to understand the manager's position and see if you can agree to a solution.

Follow up with a succinct letter or e-mail that may be used in court to insure there is no: "I said and he said".
Don't escalate the dispute
Do not be belligerent or rude. No swearing or threats. No slamming of doors. If the manager is mistaken give her your side of the story.

For example, if the manager claims that you parked in a Visitor Parking spot, and you did, apologize and then stop doing it. If you didn't, try to see why she thinks you did. Maybe it was a simple error.

Read your condo's documents
If you are accused of violating the condo's Declaration, by-laws or rules, it is a good idea to read them. You then understand what you agreed to when you bought your unit.

Looking for a little confrontation
“You can't talk to a man
When he don't wanna understand
No, no, no, no, no”
—Carole King   Smackwater Jack

Sometimes owners do not want to change their behaviours. If they smoke marijuana and it stinks up the hallways, then that's too bad. If their dog barks whenever anyone walks by, and the neighbours are complaining, well if they don't like it, they can move. Loud late-night parties on the weekends is their right. Their unit is their home and they think there is nothing wrong with what they are doing.

Thinking you are in the right and looking for a fight can become very expensive if the board turns the dispute over to the corporation's lawyer.

Threat of legal action
If the manager sends you a letter, threatening to turn the matter over to the corporation lawyer, immediately get a legal opinion from a lawyer who is experienced in condominium law.

This is very important. Spending $300 now is far better than needlessly spending thousands later.

Legal letter
You get a letter from the corporation's lawyer stating that you are in violation of some rule or another. It may say that you stop doing whatever or must take certain actions or the condo corporation will commence legal action.

At the bottom of the letter, the lawyer may demand that you pay his firm $600-800 (the costs of writing the letter) by a given date or the costs will be added to your common maintenance expenses and if not paid, a lien will be placed on your unit.

In some condos, the corporation cannot lien your unit over the costs of lawyer's letter but in others they can. It depends on what your Declaration, by-laws and rules say.

However, in either case, immediately get legal advice from a lawyer experienced in condo law. Most likely he or she will advise you to pay up before the deadline.

It is important to stop the legal process before it starts getting too expensive. Owners are often shocked at how expensive legal battles with their corporation can get and how fast the legal costs rise.

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