Legacy Exceptions to Replace Grandfathering

For a long time, the term “Grandfathering” has been used to describe special treatment that may be afforded to persons or situations because of historical circumstances. In most cases, a “Grandfathered” person or situation is not obligated to meet certain new requirements or rules, because past circumstances are felt to justify an exception.

In the recent case McNulty v. Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation No. 1553, the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) offered the following comments about the term “Grandfathering”:

I advised the parties that this Tribunal has identified concerns with the use of the term “grandfathering” generally, as its origins are problematic, notwithstanding its long-standing social usage. The Tribunal believes that the term “grandfathering” is better understood as creating “legacy” provisions.

We agree. The problematic origins of the term “Grandfathering” are as follows: 

In the late nineteenth century, in the United States, new voting rules, including literacy tests and poll taxes, were implemented in a number of southern states.  However, in some cases exemptions were granted to persons whose ancestors (grandfathers) had a right to vote before the American civil war.  The new voting rules were intended to reduce opportunities for former slaves and their descendants to vote. The “grandfathering provisions” were designed to avoid impact upon poor and illiterate whites.

The particular provisions were subsequently declared unconstitutional in the U.S., but the term “Grandfathering” has lived on in numerous other contexts. 

We will now be using new terms “Legacy Exceptions” and “Legacy Resident” in place of “Grandfathering” and “Grandfathered Resident”.

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