Do you live in a Condominium? Does your upstairs neighbour overwater their outdoor plants, resulting in water build-up on your patio? Is the Condo trying to remove your pet, claiming it is too large? Have you requested records from the board, and they haven’t responded? These are all situations that have been brought to the Condo Authority Tribunal or the CAT.
What is the CAT?
The CAT is an online tribunal designed to resolve disputes related to Condos. The main selling points of the CAT is its low cost and its speed, in relation to the standard litigation process. In January 2022, the CAT had its jurisdiction expanded and now has exclusive jurisdiction to deal with disputes related to condominium records; compliance with settlement agreements; disputes about provisions in a condominium corporation’s governing documents involving pets and animals, vehicles, parking and storage; disputes about unreasonable nuisances, annoyances, or disruptions or provisions in a condominium corporation’s governing documents involving noise, odour, light, vibrations, smoke and vapour; and disputes about any other type of nuisance, annoyance or disruption set out in provisions of the condominium corporation’s governing documents. If you have an issue that falls under one of these categories, you can bring it to the CAT for a resolution.
How do you apply to the CAT?
The first step in applying to the Cat is setting up an account with the Condo Authority Ontario (“CAO”). You can do this on their website. Under the tribunal tab, select “File New Application”. After you fill out the requested information you will be contacted by a case manager within a few days. Once this happens you will be given access to the online portal and will need to serve notice of the action to the other parties. When they join, the CAT begins. There is a non-refundable $25 filing fee to file an application with the CAT.
What to expect at the CAT?
The CAT is broken up into three stages: Negotiation, Mediation, and Tribunal Decision.
During Negotiation, the participants will be sending messages on the online portal in an effort to resolve the dispute. During this time, participants will be sending settlement offers. Anything sent during this time will be seen by the mediator during stage two, so it is important to clearly outline your arguments and to engage in the settlement discussions. If the parties cannot agree they can proceed to the second stage, Mediation. To proceed to mediation, there is a non-refundable $50 fee.
During Mediation, a CAT mediator will join the portal. The mediator will try to push the parties toward settlement. The mediator will eventually send a settlement proposal to the parties, if the parties do not agree with this proposal then they will move onto stage 3, Tribunal Decision. To proceed to the tribunal decision, there is a non-refundable $125 fee.
During Tribunal Decision, all parties will go before the tribunal and present their case. All the messages previously sent during the CAT process will be deleted from the portal, so it is recommended to make copies of them before proceeding to stage 3. Anything posted during stages 1 or 2 is not allowed to be provided to the decision board, but it can be useful if you want to outline your argument similarly. When the tribunal reaches a decision, it will be posted on the CAO’s website.
It is important to remember to claim for your legal costs. The decision board will look at several factors in determining if the CAT orders a cost award, but a major one is if you acted reasonably before proceeding with the CAT. The decision board wants proof that you acted reasonably, particularly that you made efforts to settle before proceeding to the CAT.
Congratulations, you have made it through the CAT process and received a judgment. Assuming that everything went your way, this could include an order that the Condo Corporation has to act in a certain way, your neighbour has to stop their disruptive behaviour, and an order for your legal costs.
If you or anyone you know has questions about the CAT, please contact our new associate lawyer Matthew Stubbs.