The CAT’s Jurisdiction
An important question that we are frequently asked is: Can I bring my dispute to the CAT? In other words, what kind of disputes does the Condominium Authority Tribunal (“CAT”) have jurisdiction over?
The answer to this question can be tricky – and it’s important to consider this question before starting your CAT application. Choosing the wrong forum in which to bring your condominium related dispute is not only a waste of time and expense, but there is also a risk of a costs award against you for bringing your dispute in the wrong forum.
As such, before bringing your dispute to the CAT, it’s important to consider whether your dispute falls within the jurisdiction of the CAT. To consider this question, you need to answer the following: (1) Who are the parties to the dispute?; and (2) What is the subject matter of the dispute?
There are limitations as to who can start a CAT application and who a CAT application can be started against. At this time, the CAT only deals with disputes involving owners, residents, condominium corporations, mortgagees, and purchasers.
More specifically, section 1.36 of the Condominium Act confirms that a condominium corporation can start a CAT application against an owner, occupier, or a mortgagee of a unit. Likewise, an owner or mortgagee of a unit can start a CAT application against a condominium corporation, or an owner, occupier, or a mortgagee of unit. Note that an occupier (such as a tenant) is not permitted to start a CAT application. In addition, a purchaser of a unit may also start a CAT application in limited circumstances. Accordingly, if your legal dispute involves a declarant/developer, contractor, consultant, or manager, then you are not proceeding to the CAT.
The Condominium Act and its regulations confirm that the CAT has exclusive jurisdiction over the following disputes:
- Disputes relating to the condominium’s records.
- Disputes relating to unreasonable nuisances, annoyances or disruptions set out under section 117(2) of the Condominium Act and related regulations, which specifically include:
- Disputes relating to provisions in a condominium’s declaration, by-laws or rules that prohibit, restrict, or otherwise govern unreasonable noise, odour, light, vibration, smoke or vapour that may cause a nuisance, disruption or annoyance to any individual.
- Disputes relating to provisions in a condominium’s declaration, by-laws or rules that prohibit, restrict, or otherwise govern:
- Pets or other animals;
- Parking and/or storage; and
- Any other type of nuisance, annoyance, or disruption to an individual in a condominium corporation
- Disputes relating to provisions in a condominium’s declaration, by-laws or rules that govern indemnification or compensation related to any of the above disputes falling within the CAT’s jurisdiction.
It is important to note that if your dispute falls within the CAT’s jurisdiction, you must bring your dispute to the CAT (because the CAT has exclusive jurisdiction over the above noted disputes).
At the same time, the CAT is not able to decide disputes that do not fall within the CAT’s jurisdiction (as set out above). For example, the CAT does not have jurisdiction to decide disputes under the following categories:
- Easements under section 20 of the Condominium Act.
- Occupiers’ liability under section 26 of the Condominium Act.
- Condominium liens and priority issues under Sections 85 and 86 of the Condominium Act.
- Prohibited conditions and activities under section 117 (1) of the Condominium Act.
- Amalgamation or termination under parts VII and VIII of the Condominium Act.
- Determination of title to any real property.
- An order requiring a person to vacate a property permanently.
- A claim for oppression under section 135 of the Condominium Act, unless the “heart” of the dispute falls within the CAT’s jurisdiction set out above.
- Modifications to common elements under sections 97 and 98 of the Condominium Act.
- Generally, any other dispute not falling within the CAT’s jurisdiction noted above.
In conclusion, the CAT has extensive jurisdiction over condominium related issues, and we anticipate that the CAT’s jurisdiction will continue to expand. Overall, we think this is a good thing as the CAT generally provides a faster outcome for a lesser cost compared to proceeding to Court or by way of mediation/arbitration under Section 132 of the Condominium Act. But again: Before starting your CAT application (or any other legal proceeding), you first need to consider what is the correct forum for your proceeding.
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