The Expanding Jurisdiction of CAT

As our readers will know, the jurisdiction of the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) was expanded in the fall of 2020, and we expect to see further increases to CAT’s jurisdiction in the coming months and years. One of the recent expansions to CAT’s jurisdiction relates to disputes respecting provisions (in a condominium’s Declaration, By-laws or Rules) “that prohibit, restrict or otherwise govern pets or other animals in a unit, the common elements or the assets, if any, of the corporation”.

The recent case of TW Cross Investments Ltd. v. Peel Standard Condominium Corporation No. 1052 involved a dispute about an amendment to the Declaration of the commercial condominium. The condominium corporation had amended the Declaration to allow the units to be used as veterinary clinics. Previously, only guide and assistance dogs were permitted in the units.

One of the owners asserted that the condominium corporation had not followed the proper procedures to amend the Declaration under Section 107 of the Condominium Act, 1998.  The condominium corporation argued that this was a dispute about the procedures in Section 107 – not about animals – and therefore fell outside CAT’s jurisdiction.   CAT held that this was a dispute about a provision to govern pets or other animals and therefore fell within CAT’s jurisdiction.

So the bottom line is that CAT’s jurisdiction is broad enough to address all disputes (including procedural issues) related to provisions that fall within CAT’s expanded jurisdiction.  And I think that’s a sound interpretation. 

On the other hand, CAT will decline jurisdiction if CAT determines that a dispute falls outside CAT’s authority.   For instance:

In another recent case (Smith v. TSCC 1472), CAT declined to decide an owner’s claim that the condominium corporation had improperly changed the lock to the owner’s storage unit.  CAT said:  “Based on the facts, the issue of this dispute is the right of the condominium to change the storage unit door lock in an emergency situation without notice to the unit owner and not about provisions that prohibit, restrict or otherwise govern the storage of items in the storage units.”

So, the takeaway is as follows: If a dispute falls outside the categories that can be decided by CAT, CAT will of course decline jurisdiction.  But if the dispute falls within one of those categories, it appears that CAT will decide all of the related issues….including Human Rights issues.

But more importantly:  CAT’s jurisdiction and importance in Ontario condominium law and administration are growing….and will unquestionably continue to grow.  As CAT becomes involved in more and more complex condominium disputes, I hope that CAT will be prepared to award appropriate costs to the successful party, including costs that are supported by indemnification provisions in the condominium’s governing documents.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News to keep up to date on the latest developments on the CAT’s jurisdiction!