Recent Court Decision Respecting Non-Urgent Repairs

Last week, the Ontario Superior Court considered whether to prevent third party contractors from entering a condominium building to complete non-urgent repair work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In York Condominium Corporation No. 419 v. Black, the condominium corporation sought an urgent injunction to prevent the respondent owners from having third party contractors enter the condominium building on an interim basis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unit in question had been undergoing renovations and the condominium corporation had learned that the owners had allowed painters to enter their unit last Friday (i.e. well after the country implemented physical distancing protocols). This was particularly concerning for the condominium corporation given that the majority of its residents were seniors.

In reviewing this matter, the Court made an initial endorsement, and unsurprisingly found that this was a matter of great urgency. As a result, the Court ordered that a case conference would proceed that same day, by way of teleconference. In its initial Endorsement, the Court confirmed that as part of the case conference, the Court would be considering whether to order the owners to stop allowing outside workers into their unit, on at least a temporary basis.

During the urgent case conference later that same day, the owners appeared to accept the concerns of the condominium corporation respecting the COVID-19 pandemic and agreed that proper physical distancing would preclude anyone from visiting the unit at this time. The Court ultimately made an Order, on consent of both parties, that no one was permitted to enter the unit to complete renovation work until the Court orders otherwise.

In our view, this decision applies a sensible approach with respect to halting non-urgent repair work in condominium units during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the parties in this case ultimately agreed to stop the work, it is difficult to imagine a situation where the courts would permit non-urgent work to proceed during these uncertain times.

In light of this decision, we (again) encourage condominiums and owners to postpone unnecessary repairs and upgrades, particularly if they involve a risk to physical distancing (during the work).