The CAT Enforces Rule Permitting Only Seasonal Furniture On Balconies

In the case of Sarros v. YRSCC 1445, the condominium corporation had a Rule permitting only “seasonal furniture” on the balconies. The owner had a structure on the balcony which the condominium corporation felt was not “seasonal furniture” as permitted by the Rule.

The owner conceded that the structure was originally used to store weights and barbells used for weightlifting. However, he stopped using the structure for that purpose and converted it by removing the brackets used to hold weights and installing a piece of wood. The owner submitted that the modified structure was a table (and accordingly a piece of furniture). He said that in the summer he hangs flower baskets from the structure and in the Christmas season he strings Christmas lights on it. He therefore argued that, since he used the structure in different ways in different seasons, it was “seasonal furniture” in compliance with the Rule.

The Court decision includes the following photograph of the structure:

The CAT noted that the Rule did not contain any definition of the term “seasonal furniture”, but then went on to state as follows:

In the absence of some more precise definition, it seems to me that a Google search for the term “seasonal furniture” is of some assistance in determining an ordinary understanding of the term and whether the structure at issue here could come within the ordinary understanding of “seasonal furniture” in the context of a condominium balcony. Such a search does not produce a structure that looks anything like the structure the Applicant has on his balcony.

The CAT said that the structure in question was clearly not purchased for the intended use as a table. The CAT noted that the structure was essentially stored on the balcony, except when it was being used to hang plants or display lights; and the structure therefore contravened the prohibition against storage contained in the Rule. The CAT ordered that the structure be removed.

My view is that the CAT might also have concluded that “seasonal furniture” refers to furniture that is used (and therefore present on the balcony) only during the warmer seasons.

Anyway, I found this case interesting as Condominium Rules can’t possibly contain definitions of every term used in the Rules (including terms like “seasonal furniture”). But decision-makers can still find ways to interpret the words (usually based upon their “plain meaning”) – even a Google Search can sometimes help!

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