A look at the CAO’s draft anti-harassment rule

New tool helps condo corporations comply with legal obligations and address a growing issue
Tuesday, December 12, 2023
By Kate Schoffer

Harassment towards property managers, directors, contractors, and residents remains a significant problem within condominium corporations. It is an unfortunate reality that some individuals use verbal abuse, personal attacks, threats, and intimidation (harassment) as a means of getting what they want in their dealings with condo corporations.

Many within the condo industry report feeling that harassment is on the rise, contributing to the current shortage of property managers in the industry and the reluctance of individuals to want to volunteer as board members.

To assist the industry in responding to harassment, the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) has recently published a set of draft anti-harassment rules.

Passing a rule is one tool to combat harassment, but the board must also consider how the rules will be clearly and consistently enforced, who is responsible for conducting an impartial investigation of complaints of harassment, and what steps will be taken to ensure that evidence is gathered to support any alleged breaches of the rules.

Harassment against condo staff creates a legal obligation for the condo corporation to intervene. Specifically, Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1990 provides that every condo corporation is obligated to protect the condo’s workers, including property managers, from harassment and violence in the workplace.

In York Condominium Corporation No. 288 v Rabie and Weinroth, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice affirmed this obligation and stated that the staff of the condo “have a right to be free from . . . abuse, and the [condo] is right to do whatever the law requires in order to make this a non-abusive workplace for its staff.” It is important to remember that while harassment is normally a series of incidents, it can also be one severe incident which has a lasting impact on the individual.

Harassment against anyone in a condo community creates a toxic work and living environment. Accordingly, condo corporations should consider implementing rules targeted at combatting and addressing harassment.

The CAO’s draft rules are comprehensive and include a sample incident report. Most condo managers use their own incident reporting form, but for those who have not implemented a standardized incident reporting process, this form can be a valuable starting point to ensure that all incidents are appropriately documented and investigated.

The implementation of anti-harassment rules, including the CAO’s draft anti-harassment rules, is consistent with Condominium Act, 1998, which permits condo corporations to make, amend or repeal rules to promote the safety, security or welfare of the owners, and of the property and the assets of the corporation. Rules may be passed, amended or repealed by condo directors; however, owners have the right to provide feedback and input.

Boards that seek to amend their rules must provide a notice to owners and include:

1. A copy of the change;

2. The date the board is suggesting the rule become effective;

3. A reminder that owners have the right to requisition an owner’s meeting about the rule, and that the rule will become effective 30 days after the notice unless a meeting is requisitioned; and

4. A copy of section 46 and section 58 of the Condo Act, which cover owner requisitioned meetings.

Condo corporations can review the CAO’s draft rules and consider how they can be adapted to their unique needs. While the CAO’s draft rules will not stop harassment in condos completely, they can provide a tool to help condo corporations comply with their legal obligations and address harassment when it arises.

Kate Schoffer is a lawyer with Cohen Highley LLP.

The CAO’s draft rules can be found at: https://www.condoauthorityontario.ca/news/cao-launches-new-anti-harassment-rule-sample-for-condo-corporations/.

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