Odours of cleaning products used in common areas can be a human rights issue

The corporation’s cleaning crew uses products that are heavily scented. Many of the residents suffer from issues such as asthma, COPD and allergies. But our requests that scentless cleaning products be used have been ignored. What can we do?

The Ontario Human Rights Code requires condominium corporations to accommodate disabilities of residents. Some of the conditions you describe would appear to constitute disabilities. Medical opinions might be sought for the affected residents, stating that the scented products have a negative effect upon the various residents.

If the corporation fails to end the use of the scented products, an application might be made by residents, pursuant to the Human Rights Code, requesting an order to that effect.

We have been told by our condominium corporation that we must removed tiles installed on the balcony before we will be allowed to sell our unit. The building was built in 1983 and the tiles were installed in 1984. Is the removal our responsibility?

If the tiles were installed by the developer, the condominium corporation is not entitled to require you to remove the tiles. If the tiles were installed on the common-element balcony by you or a previous owner without the approval of the corporation, the unit owner may be required to remove the tiles.

The corporation is not entitled to prevent you from selling your unit if you do not remove the tiles. But the corp. could specify in a disclosure statement, to be provided to the purchaser of the unit, that the purchaser will be responsible for the removal of the tiles. And that could affect the sale.

I understand that in Alberta, condominium bylaws must be approved by a vote of the owners and must also be registered in the Land Titles Office. Is it the same in Ontario?

Yes. A bylaw passed by the board must receive a vote in favour by a majority of the unit owners. The bylaw must also be registered in the appropriate land titles division of the Land Registry Office.

In our condominium, the board provided a list of common-element, owner-initiated enhancements it would approve. If the board changes that list, can it now require owners who made enhancements previously approved to alter them to be in accordance with the newly approved list?

Section 98 of the Condominium Act permits unit owners to make additions, alteration or improvements to the common elements — which are approved by the board — provided that the owner and the corporation enter into an agreement and that are registered on the title to the owner’s unit. Once the corporation has approved and the required agreement has been registered, a unit owner is entitled to proceed.

There is nothing in section 98 that enables a corporation to require an owner to remove or alter additions, alterations or improvements that have been properly carried out in accordance with section 98. Any change in the required approvals will be applicable to a future request by an owner but should not affect work previously approved in accordance with section 98.

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Gerry Hyman


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