Strata Alert: Ontario Court Rules on Harassment Claim against Condo Corporation

Paul lawyers

Strata Alert: Ontario Court Rules on Harassment Claim against Condo Corporation

Paul G. Mendes, Partner
Phone:  604-685-4894

Wexler v. Carleton Condominium Corporation Number 28

Believe it or not, some people get very upset when their strata corporation tries to enforce the bylaws against them. In this Ontario case, a condo owner was ordered to pay her strata (called a condominium corporation in Ontario) $20,000 in costs after she unsuccessfully sued her strata for harassment.

The underlying facts will be familiar to some.

The unit owner allowed her son to feed pigeons from the unit balcony. This caused a considerable mess and nuisance to other unit owners. The strata demanded that the unit owner take steps to deal with the problem, but she refused. Instead, she wrote a number of angry letters to the strata accusing it of harassment. The strata, fed up with the unit owner’s intransigence, took steps to remedy the contravention and clean up the mess. The strata then charged the cleanup cost totaling $270 to the unit owner.

The owner responded by suing the strata corporation for harassment, claiming among other things, $2,500 in damages. In dismissing the claim, the judge identified four elements that must be present to make out a case of harassment by a strata corporation:

  • outrageous conduct by the strata;
  • an intention on the part of the strata to cause emotional distress to the owner;
  • the presence of severe emotional distress on the part of the owner; and
  • that the emotional distress must be caused by the strata’s outrageous conduct.

After reviewing the strata corporation’s declaration (analogous to strata bylaws in British Columbia) and the relevant provisions of the Ontario condominium legislation, the judge found that the owner had failed to make out a claim of harassment against her strata. The court found that the strata were merely enforcing the declaration (i.e. the bylaws) and carrying out its duties under the legislation. The court also found that the amount of the chargeback for cleaning up the pigeon poop was reasonable.

The hearing occupied three days and the strata corporation counterclaimed for full indemnity for its legal costs in excess of $35,000, as permitted under its declaration.  The Court concluded that the unit owner was liable for the strata corporation’s enforcement costs but reduced the amount from $35,000-$20,000.

This case will have some precedential value her in BC once the Civil Resolutions Tribunal (the “CRT”) starts taking complaints.  It is not uncommon for owners who contravene the bylaws to allege that they are being harassed by their strata. Sometimes that allegation can be true, but in most cases, it is not. The high cost of pursuing harassment allegations in court may explain why we have yet to see similar cases being decided in BC. I expect that the CRT, which invites the resolution of every condo dispute, no matter how small or trivial it is, will be inundated with harassment complaints similar to this one.

WHAT WE DO: Lesperance Mendes advises strata corporations and property managers on all aspects of bylaw drafting and enforcement. When the Civil Resolutions Tribunal comes into effect, we will continue to assist strata’s and property managers to resolve disputes under the new procedures. To find out more about our bylaw enforcement practice, please contact Paul G Mendes at 604-685-4894 or by email at

Lesperance Mendes Lawyers
900 Howe St #550, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2M4
(604) 685-3567