Your Liability for Condo Lawsuits in Ontario

First time home buyer (Ontario) or seasoned pro, buying a condo can be a revelation. A condo lawsuit can leave owners with financial or moral obligations for legal liabilities that extend far beyond the unit they live in.

Having fire insurance for your unit’s contents can save you the grief of rebuilding or replacing personal property you lose in a kitchen disaster. But what about a building parkade fire or postal worker who slips and falls on an icy step?

Depending on how a condo lawsuit ends, your common expenses fees — the monthly charge you pay for the building’s maintenance, operations and future repairs — may go up significantly.

You could be in for more than you bargained for.

Condo assignment sale — know what you’re getting into.

A man choosing liability among the choices

What Causes Condo Collapses?

Condo collapses are extremely rare. Investigators frequently trace the cause to human error during construction, cheap materials, or water corrosion. Land beneath a building can also give way, gradually sinking or eroding without the owners’ knowledge. Regular depreciation reports help find these problems before they occur.

Your Liability as an “Occupier”

Ontario’s Occupiers’ Liability Act makes condominium corporations potentially liable for personal injuries involving common building elements. By that, the Act means driveways, sidewalks, pathways, garage ramps, shared stairways and any other common area.
When the corporation is liable, so are you. That can mean increased common element fees and, possibly, expensive litigation.

Fortunately, 2020 changes mean notice of a pending claim for slips and falls must be filed within 60 days, not the usual two-year period for most legal actions. Exceptions can occur — if a death results or a claimant has a reasonable explanation for failing to give notice.

Five designs and one “owner modification” that went wrong.

Your Owner Responsibilities

Beyond legal liability for damages others suffer, you could also be held responsible by the condominium corporation or owners if you:

  • act in bad faith or dishonestly while on the corporation board of directors
  • fail to comply with the Ontario Condominium Act, 1988 or other provincial legislation
  • infringe the corporation’s declaration, bylaws or rules
  • leave your unit in a state of disrepair that damages or could harm common areas or other units
  • neglect to pay common expense fees
  • and more.

Can God be sued?

A contract signing agreement

Condo Lawsuit and the Condo Corporation’s Liabilities

Of course, the condominium corporation must also act with due diligence and care. As a legal entity, the corporation is responsible for:

  • ensuring owners comply with the Act, declaration, bylaws and rules
  • notifying you of owners’ meetings and before entering your unit
  • circulating financial or building condition information so you can make financial decisions
  • acting honestly and in good faith as directors
  • disclosing conflicts of interest.
  • and keeping common elements in good repair.

Questions to Ask to Avoid a Condo Lawsuit

What’s in the Condo Reserve Fund?

Condo status certificates can reveal the financial health of a building and a specific unit. They can expose hidden HVAC or mould and mildew problems that could lead to legal problems and additional costs in future. Since condominium corporations are required by law to give you a certificate at your request (fees apply), ask Axess Law’s real estate lawyers to review yours for red flags that the reserve fund may be insufficient.

How to Remove a Lien From Your Property in Ontario?

Financial encumbrances or construction liens can stop or delay you from buying a new build condo. Unpaid contractors and irate suppliers can block transfer of title to an Ontario property by filing a claim under the Construction Lien Act to prevent the builder or developer from selling their units. Axess Law negotiates with sellers or developers to get liens lifted that can lead to a condo lawsuit, so your home sales transaction can be completed.

How a builder liens lawyer can help.

Who Owns Title?

FSBO (for sale by owner) private sales may leave you exposed to a condo lawsuit if the seller doesn’t have clear title to a property or spousal permission to sell a matrimonial home. When multiple parties are on title to a property or the seller is legally married, all owners and the spouse have to consent to a sale. Your Axess Law lawyer verifies the property title transfer (Ontario) is valid — before private sales of real estate close — to ensure a condo is legally yours.

Legal services for private sales, real estate and title transfers.

A lawyer discussing some terms to the client

Why You Need a Lawyer

Before you get involved in a condo lawsuit you may later regret, talk to an Axess Law lawyer about your agreement of purchase and sale. Our condo lawyers (Toronto, Greater Toronto Area or Ottawa) can review your offer of purchase to include clauses that protect you as buyer.

We add a mandatory review of a condominium corporation’s status certificate as a condition of sale. If your sale is delayed by construction liens or financial disagreements, we negotiate with the seller’s lawyer to amend the closing date.

Home inspection clauses give you time to inspect your prospective new home, professionally and personally, before the offer closing date approaches. Sellers may agree to adjust the price or you could walk away altogether if a unit you want to buy requires expensive fixes that could lead to a condo lawsuit.

When you can cancel a home buyer contract.

Axess Law protects your buyer’s right to cancel and confirms who gets the deposit in a worst case scenario. Our virtual lawyer services are easy to connect with, anywhere in Ontario, or you can visit a lawyer in person at any of our Greater Toronto Area or Ottawa law offices.

If a real estate deal falls through who gets the deposit?

Flat Fee Legal Services You Can Afford

Access lawyers for less in Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, or anywhere in Ontario when you buy, sell, or transfer property. Axess Law’s flat fee real estate lawyers are affordable, and our rates are all inclusive (excluding taxes, disbursements, and third-party charges). Axess Law offers you only the legal services you absolutely need. Your final invoice includes no surprises or hidden charges. Your itemized statement of adjustments is explained when we deliver it, and we answer any questions you have about it.

We can meet with you remotely via secure, online video conferencing software or in person at any of our Axess Law locations in Ottawa and Greater Toronto Area.

Make Online or Phone Bookings

Making appointments is quick and convenient. Just use our online booking form or pick up the phone and dial toll-free to 877-552-9377. In the GTA, call our 647-479-0118 lawyer line for an Axess Law office near you.

We’re open 7 days a week, with day or evening appointments when you need them. Look for onsite parking and easy transit access.

You can video conference online from the convenience of your home or office with Axess Law’s virtual lawyers service. Our secure video calling software is private and confidential. Call today for appointments.

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