What does it take for a condominium corporation to force the removal of a unit owner from a unit? We have previously written blogs on this topic, highlighting the unusual nature of the facts that give rise to a situation in which a Board was left with little choice but to take these drastic measures.
Two recent case decisions, one in B.C. and the other in Ontario, dealt with the Boards’ removal of the unit owners which shows that the courts are now more willing to consider unit owner eviction when it appears that there is no other viable option.
YCC 301 v. Valerie Victoria James involved a unit owner who had lived in her unit since August 2007. An application was brought by the condominium corporation to have Ms. James removed from her unit and that it be sold due to her continuing violent, harassing and inappropriate conduct which included:
Acting violently towards staff and physically assaulting the property manager;
Inappropriate bizarre gestures, randomly laughing out loud and glaring at staff, unit owners and their children; and
Placing and leaving refuse and offensive materials in the hallways.
In Sept 2013 a previous order was issued restraining Ms. James from having contact with any resident or employees and keeping at least 25 feet away from the management office and other individuals. This order was breached by Ms. James who among other things:
Started two fires in her unit;
Placed human feces in a newspaper and stuffed it into the mail slot of a unit door; and
Exposed herself to two people while naked and made obscene gestures using her genitalia.
The corporation returned to court in October 2013 at which time the court ordered that Ms. James undergo a mental health exam and provide the results to the court. Ms. James did not comply.
In February 2014 the court appointed the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee. Although Ms. James was on medication and there were no incidents since that time, the Corporation continued to incur $400 per day on additional security to protect residents and the property.
When making its order, the court looked at the five affidavits of the individuals who had a fear of running into Ms. James and the previous court orders which failed to control Ms. James’ behavior creating serious safety concerns for the residents, management and visitors.
The judge acknowledged that this Ms. James had a mental health issue but felt that there was no other remedy that was sufficient to protect the interests of the Corporation as a whole. The judge ordered the immediate sale of Ms. James’ unit.
This decision is particularly interesting as the judge acknowledged that Ms. James had a disability which, in the context of the Ontario Human Rights Code, was a disability that the Corporation tried to accommodate for years. However, it had reached a point of undue hardship where the rights of the other residents and staff were impacted to such a large degree that the Corporation could no longer accommodate Ms. James: to safety and security of other residents and staff became paramount.
In the B.C. case, unit owners were forced to sell their unit not because they were a threat to other residents (which we have seen in other cases) but because the unit owners continued to bring court proceedings one after another for 6 years because of a disagreement between the unit owners and the Strata Corporation over parking regulations.
Mr. and Mrs. Bea wanted unrestricted parking and didn’t want to be confined to their assigned space. Believe it or not, the Beas commenced court proceedings, lost, and then rather than appealing, commenced further proceedings. This went on from 2008 to 2014. The Beas were ordered to pay costs in each instance but continued going to court.
The judge in this final decision acknowledged the unusual nature of this case and that “Mrs. Bea has used her ownership interest to frustrate and abuse the court’s process and afflict her fellow owner.” The court stated that Mrs. Bea would have lost her property regardless through enforcement of all the judgments and court orders but that “ the time to end their abuse of the court process is now.” The sale was ordered.