The Meaning of Family

A recent Superior Court decision, Ballingall vs. CCC 111, dealt with the dilemma of the dissenting director, and the circumstances that may constitute bad faith on the part of the director. See my previous blog post on those issues for more information. The court also dealt with another important issue: the meaning of “family”.

In the Ballingall case, the condominium’s declaration contained a provision stating that the units could be used only as private single family residences – but contained no definition of the term “family”. The corporation’s legal counsel recommended that the corporation pass a rule to establish a definition of family. Otherwise, the narrow definition endorsed by the courts in other cases might be imposed upon the condominium corporation (see Nipissing Condominium Corporation No. 4 v. Kilfoyl and Chan v. Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation No. 1834).

The court in the Ballingall case confirmed that it is proper for a condominium corporation to pass a rule in order to create an alternative definition of family, different from the definition endorsed in the cases above, as long as the rule is reasonable and is consistent with the basic principles behind the “families only” provision in the declaration.

I think this is great news for condominium corporations and their owners, because it means that they have some flexibility in establishing a definition of family for their condominium community. I also believe that the definition could even vary somewhat from condominium to condominium, depending upon the nature and history of the occupancies.

The court in the Ballingall case also considered the possibility for different types of grandfathering provisions to be included in any such rule. Again, this will depend upon the nature and history of the occupancies in the condominium.

These are all important considerations for any condominium corporation that has a “families only” provision in its declaration or rules.