Water, Water Everywhere – Can One Unit’s Excessive Water Consumption Be Charged Back to the Owner?

In the 2015 Small Claims Court case Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation No. 659 v. Chris Truman, the Condominium Corporation commenced a claim against the owner of a commercial unit who was using excessive amounts of water to operate a legal marijuana grow-operation. The Condominium Corporation wanted the owner to be responsible for the costs of the water consumption used by the unit.

The Corporation installed a meter to help determine the water consumed in the unit, and sought payment from the unit owner for the cost of the excessive quantity of water consumed. It was just over $19,000 during the applicable time period, so not an insignificant amount.

In deciding that the unit owner was required to reimburse the Condominium Corporation, the Court emphasized the issue of proportionality, fairness and equity, and determined that the defendant unit owner’s use of water was disproportionate to the allotted 5.13% share of common expenses for the unit. It was not fair to the other unit owners to have to bear these costs, when the defendant alone reaped the benefit. The other unit owners were, in effect, subsidizing his cultivation of medical marijuana.

Therefore, the Court granted judgement in favour of the Condominium Corporation for the costs of the excessive water used by the unit. This case is beneficial to the interests of all unit owners, in situations where a single unit is taking advantage of the communal structure of common expense payments, and utility usage, in condominiums.