Condominium corporations often face claims for damages that have occurred when an owner or resident’s car is damaged either upon entry into the underground parking from the garage door, when the vehicle is vandalized, or when items are stolen.
The common response by the car owner is that the condominium corporation should be responsible for the damage to the vehicle. People seem to think that if a loss occurs to someone’s goods or a motor vehicle while on condominium property that the condominium corporation is “strictly liable” for the loss suffered and must pay for the damages.
This is not the case. The law in Ontario is that the condominium corporation will only be responsible for the damage that may have occurred from a garage door hitting a vehicle, theft, or vandalism if the owner/resident can show that the condominium failed to exercise reasonable care.
When claims have been brought against condominiums in Ontario on the grounds mentioned above, the courts have found that if the condominium has regularly serviced its garage door and is not aware of any failures in its operations, then the owner/resident must seek recovery from his or her own insurance company. A condominium corporation would only be responsible for damage to the motor vehicle it if was aware of a problem, did not address its correction, and a loss was suffered as a result.
Case in point
The previously described outcome occurred when a unit owner claimed against the condominium corporation for the loss he suffered due to vandalism to his vehicle, which was parked in the underground garage. The owner was unsuccessful at trial and on appeal. The corporation had made a business decision to switch its entry system to the parking garage from a phone entry system to a monitored CCTV system with 24- hour licensed security, including rounds by concierge/security staff every two hours.
The court found there was no evidence presented by the owner that the corporation’s decision to change the entry system was unreasonable. In keeping with the case law in Ontario, the courts gave deference to the business decision made by directors.
The fact that vandalism occurred does not in and of itself establish the unit owner’s case against the corporation. In addition, the fact that the security did not devote full-time attention to the security cameras does not mean that they breached the standard of care. To prove this, the owner would have had to provide evidence that there was a failure on security’s part that was unreasonable and that resulted in his loss.
Audrey Loeb is a senior partner in the Condominium Law Group at Shibley Righton LLP.