Balancing the Rights of All Owners and the Rights of an Owner with a Disability

In the case of MTCC 580 v. Mills, the condominium corporation’s communications with one of the owners became “strained”, for two main reasons: (1) The owner suffered from disabilities which could cause him to experience anxiety and, as a result, to engage in excessive, unwanted communications with others (in this case, with the condominium corporation and its contractors) about matters that had “triggered” the owner’s anxiety; and (2) The owner’s anxiety was triggered when asbestos was found, and needed remediation, in the units.

In the decision, the Court said that the owner’s resulting emails to the condominium corporation “exceed any reasonable expectation for the sheer volume of communication without even considering the tone or content”. The Court said that the owner’s communications were “prejudicial”, “costly” and “oppressive”.

In addition, the Court noted the owner’s dealings with the condominium’s contractors. The Court said that “he challenges contractors’ competency to their regulators, complains to the Ministry of Labour, calls the police, inundates independent businesses with emails and voicemails often threatening to sue them, alleges harassment, and has had verbal altercations with some (which can be two-way streets no doubt)”.

Ultimately, the owner decided to sell and also to allow the condominium corporation to complete planned remediation work in his unit. However, the Court was nevertheless asked to determine how the owner’s communications, and dealings with the condominium’s contractors, would continue through to the sale.

The Court granted the condominium corporation’s requested order that the owner not, at any time hereafter,

a) communicate with the Board of Directors by any means, except in the event of an emergency, through the Corporation’s mailing address and/or email address (excepting communications from the legal counsel handling the owner’s sale);

b) fail to provide access to Unit 96 to the Applicant and the Applicant’s authorized agents and contractors at any time upon twenty-four (24) hours notice;

c) fail to provide access to Unit 96 immediately in emergency situations, as determined by the Applicant’s Board of Directors in their sole discretion, acting reasonably;

d) communicate in any way with Corporation’s authorized agents and contractors;

e) make any threats directed toward the Board of Directors and their legal counsel;

f) post unauthorized notices on the property and the common elements; and

g) play audio recordings on the common elements at any time.

I believe that the Court’s reasoning is best captured by the following paragraph in the decision:

“A demand for accommodation is only one side of the community living equation. People are required to recognize Mr. Mills’ disabilities and aid him accessing their goods and services to the point of undue hardship. But the duty to accommodate does not eliminate altogether the other parties’ rights and the need for Mr. Mills to obey the law and the rules of the condominium. A right to accommodation to participate in the community is not license to harass, oppress, or unilaterally dictate rules for how the condominium community behaves.”

This nicely expresses the balance to be struck in such situations. There is a duty to accommodate a resident’s disabilities, which I think can mean that condominium corporations may need to “make some extra efforts” to comfort residents who suffer from unusual anxiety or from other disabilities. But there is a limit to this required accommodation… because, at the same time, the rights of the other owners and occupants – and the community as a whole – must  be upheld, to the extent reasonably possible in all of the circumstances.

Again, it’s a matter of finding a reasonable, balanced approach in such cases.

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