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As my husband and I get closer to retirement, we often discuss whether or not we should move out of our three storey home and if we did, what type of accommodation would suit us.
I think we have ruled out a condominium. For one thing, we don’t want to surrender decisions about upkeep and maintenance of the infrastructure of our most valuable asset to a Board of Directors and a majority of other owners in the complex. We also like having the space to accommodate our children and grandchild when they visit Toronto.
And when I read about a recent decision where an Ontario Superior Court Justice refused to order a violent and abusive condominium member removed from the Condo Board or force her to sell her unit, I realized that the possibility of becoming embroiled in a similar situation is another reason why condo living is not for us.
According to evidence submitted in Ontario Superior Court, by York Condominium Corp. 137, condo owner Edna Merle Hayes verbally or physically threatened other owners five times including leaving one threatening voicemail.
Court heard that the first incident on September 19, 2011 involving an 80-year-old woman who was outside the condominium and was confronted by Hayes. Hayes swore repeatedly, pushed the woman and waved her fists in a threatening manner. In an affidavit filed with the Court, the woman said she returned home crying and shaking with fear and is terrified of Hayes.
The next day her daughter saw Hayes outside the building and asked about the incident. Hayes responded by grabbing her, causing her glasses to fall off. Hayes picked up the glasses and threw them away, breaking them. This was captured on a security video and witnessed by a condo board member. That woman later feared for her safety after getting a threatening voicemail from Hayes.
Justice Michael Penny accepted Hayes’ misconduct, but did not order her removed from the condo board, noting that the condo has a process for calling a special meeting to do so.
The judge also refused to make her sell her unit, saying that remedy should be reserved for the most egregious circumstances. Justice Penny did order that she behave properly, keep the peace and not get any closer than 15 feet from the unit owners she had previously assaulted or threatened, except at a properly authorized board meeting.
Maybe Hayes deserved another chance. However, orders to keep the peace are notoriously hard to enforce. If there are further incidents of unacceptable behaviour, the condo board will have to go back to court and get further compliance orders.
Of course difficult neighbours are not restricted to condominiums. You can find them them in your apartment or on your street. We have terrific neighbours, so why look for trouble? I think we’ll leave any plans to relocate on the back burner, at least for a little while longer.