How can a condominium corporation address threats, intimidation and abuse of process?

November 17, 2021 | Richard MacGregor

Our office has been successful in the recent case of TSCC 2519 v. Emerald PG Holdings et al, 2021 where the Honourable Justice Vella of the Superior Court of Justice confirmed that when a unit owner (or group of unit owners) engages in threats of litigation, intimidation and excessive hostility to a board of directors and its property management, such actions constitute workplace harassment pursuant to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Ontario), oppression, and contravenes section 117 of the Ontario Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Condo Act”). Section 117 of the Condo Act states that “No person shall permit a condition to exist or carry on an activity in a unit or in the common elements if the condition or the activity is likely to damage the property or cause injury to an individual.” In Justice Vella’s 24 page reasons for decision, she found that such conduct would cause “injury” to persons within the condominium corporation which is prohibited under section 117.  Justice Vella also reiterated that a condominium corporation has a positive obligation to ensure all unit owners comply with the Condo Act, and to provide its property managers with a safe and harassment free work environment. The case follows a line of similar cases which confirms these principles, and demonstrates how continuous threats of litigation, abuse of court processes, and harassment of managers are not permitted within a condominium corporation.

In this case, the group of unit owners had, for several years, engaged in making personal threats against the board members, managers, and other unit owners of the corporation. At times, their threats escalated to mass emails and letters copying all unit owners, the board and the managers, and also included acts of physical intimidation to the managers. Oftentimes the threats were singling out individuals and making unfounded allegations of wrongdoings in a public forum. The harassment reached the level where the condominium corporation was having difficulties recruiting and retaining board members. Justice Vella also found the group of unit owners involved had exerted undue pressure on other unit owners to sign proxies for owners’ requisition meetings.

Based on the evidence before Justice Vella, she awarded the condominium corporation an interlocutory injunction restraining the unit owners from any further acts of harassment, intimidation, bullying and other similar conduct, and awarded full indemnity costs, which would be recoverable against the unit owners as common element fees.

This case highlights the obligations of a condominium corporation to stop such conduct, and the remedies available under the Condo Act to restrain such acts of harassment and intimidation.

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