Real Estate

Can I sue my condo board in small claim court?

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 30th, 2019 12:40 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 21, 2019
1 posts

Can I sue my condo board in small claim court?

Today I received a bill $4500, including the legal fee caused by a jackass tenant in this Feb.

In this Feb, the jackass tenant, whose name is Jay, left the window open during -20, and refused to close the windows. Had loud music every early morning, so other owners living in the condo building complained and condo board asked me to have him move out. I talked to him and brought the case to the landlord/tenant dispute resolution service (in Alberta) since he refused to move out. I had to go to the dispute service first before bringing this to the court. This tenant sent email to the proper manager and said he would like to beat him up since the property manager asked me (the owner) to move him out. I then told the property manager that I am seeking for moving him out, but the dispute service took 2 weeks to hear my case. Without my knowledge, the property manager hired a lawyer and brought this to the court even if he knew that I was waiting for the dispute service. The reason is that his life was threatened. The tenant lost in the court. Now the condo board sent me the bill, which is $4500.

Could I bring it to the small claim court? I was trying to move him out but the property manager (on behalf of the board as he said) just brought that to the court directly without my knowledge.

Any advice will be highly appreciated.
42 replies
Deal Fanatic
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Mar 31, 2017
6729 posts
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Talk to the board of directors. See if they had anything to do with it. If the board didn't no authorize this then you're off the hook. The PM is hired by the board of directors, which means by an owner such as yourself. Find out more info first. I would ignore such a bill for now.

If you authorized the property management company to take money automatically from your account each and every month for condo fees, then watch out they could go this route to get their money.
Deal Fanatic
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Sep 8, 2007
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Way Out of GTA
To other owners in the condo you are the jackass. Since tenant selection ultimately is your responsibility. It’s funny where condo owners want the upside of rentals but don’t what any of the responsibility for the tenants they put in that either damages common elements or result in fees that the rest of the condo owners would have to bear. I think you will have to pay it and then endeavour on your own dime to sue the tenant for that bill separately. Which it sounds like there’s a good case unless the tenant is a deadbeat with no assets.

But instead you want to sue your condo board? Go luck with that as this recent thread reveals.

https://forums.redflagdeals.com/lesson- ... d-2307688/
Member
Nov 5, 2009
226 posts
145 upvotes
Most important question here is what did the property manager take your tenant to court for? To remove a tenant as a renter is extremely difficult.

This is an interesting situation. On any condo boards I'm on I've never had to take an owner to court to remove a tenant. We have been close a few times but the owners have eventually removed the tenant before it got to that. If an owner was working with the board we would ultimately wait for that to work it's way out. It requires a massive undertaking to have the courts remove a tenant. I dont think what you described is anything close to the standard required.

If you were following the law and trying to work with the board then I would think you would win this case against the condo board. Whatever you do, do not ignore the bill like bad one said.

What you need to look at are your bylaws. What do your bylaws allow owners to be charged back for and more importantly what exactly was the law suit against the renter for? Why wouldn't they have named you the owner as part of the law suit?
Deal Addict
Jan 15, 2017
4225 posts
3748 upvotes
Ottawa
You can pursue legal action in small claims court if you desire. You should only do that though if you know for certain that you will win. If you don't win, you will usually have to pay the condo board's legal fees, effectively doubling your financial obligation to the condo. Before you proceed, go and talk to a lawyer that is experienced in condo laws and ask whether you should proceed in small claims court. Better to spend a few hundred now than be on the hook for thousands later.

And before you talk to the lawyer, read all the by-laws and the Condo Act to make sure you understand your obligations.
Deal Guru
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Mar 23, 2008
12431 posts
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Edmonton
daisyyu12 wrote: Today I received a bill $4500, including the legal fee caused by a jackass tenant in this Feb.

In this Feb, the jackass tenant, whose name is Jay, left the window open during -20, and refused to close the windows. Had loud music every early morning, so other owners living in the condo building complained and condo board asked me to have him move out. I talked to him and brought the case to the landlord/tenant dispute resolution service (in Alberta) since he refused to move out. I had to go to the dispute service first before bringing this to the court. This tenant sent email to the proper manager and said he would like to beat him up since the property manager asked me (the owner) to move him out. I then told the property manager that I am seeking for moving him out, but the dispute service took 2 weeks to hear my case. Without my knowledge, the property manager hired a lawyer and brought this to the court even if he knew that I was waiting for the dispute service. The reason is that his life was threatened. The tenant lost in the court. Now the condo board sent me the bill, which is $4500.

Could I bring it to the small claim court? I was trying to move him out but the property manager (on behalf of the board as he said) just brought that to the court directly without my knowledge.

Any advice will be highly appreciated.
You need to talk to a lawyer about the specifics of your case.

In my non-lawyer opinion, the property manager is entitled to a safe place to work, where people aren't threatening physical violence. If you want to sue anyone, sue your tenant for your costs.

You do NOT want to simply ignore the bill (IMHO), as you will soon find a lien put on your property for the bill + the legal costs of putting the lien on. One of the following steps after that is a forced sale of your property so the condo board can collect the bill + legal costs for lien + legal costs for forced sale on the property. Do you see how this goes? You're going to end up paying the condo board's costs to defend themselves and collect their money. They will have no incentive to control their costs, because they believe they will eventually collect all their money back from you. So if you take them to small claims court, they will show up with the best lawyer they have on retainer, you'll show up on your own... Guess who wins that case?

C
Member
Nov 5, 2009
226 posts
145 upvotes
I think theres a lot of missing info in the story still. Pretty sure the property manager would take the owner to court to force an eviction not the tenant hence why I'm curious what the court case was for. Theres no reason the owner wouldnt be part of that.

If they sued just the tenant then I'm not 100% sure they can go after the owner. The bylaws should be read to see what can be charged back.

Lastly small claims takes longer then 2 weeks to go through. First you file your claim. Then serve the person. That person is then given time to file their dispute. From there it would go to a mediation and then from there a trial. This doesn't happen in 2 weeks.

I'd stand up for your rights if you were actively working with the board as there is nothing worst then a crappy property manager or condo board who runs rampant.
Deal Guru
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Mar 23, 2008
12431 posts
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Edmonton
gwill211 wrote: I think theres a lot of missing info in the story still. Pretty sure the property manager would take the owner to court to force an eviction not the tenant hence why I'm curious what the court case was for. Theres no reason the owner wouldnt be part of that.

If they sued just the tenant then I'm not 100% sure they can go after the owner. The bylaws should be read to see what can be charged back.

Lastly small claims takes longer then 2 weeks to go through. First you file your claim. Then serve the person. That person is then given time to file their dispute. From there it would go to a mediation and then from there a trial. This doesn't happen in 2 weeks.

I'd stand up for your rights if you were actively working with the board as there is nothing worst then a crappy property manager or condo board who runs rampant.
I also suspect we're not hearing the whole/complete/correct story.

In Alberta, the condo board can apply for an immediate eviction of a tenant who "is a danger to or is intimidating" tenants and residents. I would hazard a guess that also includes management of the condo.
https://www.condolawalberta.ca/owners/r ... our-condo/

Section 56 of the Condo Property Act of Alberta, which takes precedence over the RTA in Alberta
http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/Acts/c22.pdf

However, they have to give proper notice to both the tenant and the owner. It would be a foolish board/manager that would take steps like that without giving proper notice to the owner.

Basically, all this is all the more reason for the OP to talk to a lawyer, so they can spell out timelines and respond to questions.

C
Deal Fanatic
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Sep 8, 2007
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CNeufeld wrote: I also suspect we're not hearing the whole/complete/correct story.

In Alberta, the condo board can apply for an immediate eviction of a tenant who "is a danger to or is intimidating" tenants and residents. I would hazard a guess that also includes management of the condo.
https://www.condolawalberta.ca/owners/r ... our-condo/

Section 56 of the Condo Property Act of Alberta, which takes precedence over the RTA in Alberta
http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/Acts/c22.pdf

However, they have to give proper notice to both the tenant and the owner. It would be a foolish board/manager that would take steps like that without giving proper notice to the owner.

Basically, all this is all the more reason for the OP to talk to a lawyer, so they can spell out timelines and respond to questions.

C
That’s sensible legislation in my book. Any reasonable owner would work with the condo board to have the problem tenant removed then.

But there is a possibility that the property manager jumped the gun while the landlord was already going thru the process, knowing they could immediately cram down any legal fees to the owner. And the owner doesn’t really have much recourse for them racking up fees.

It would seem that based on the legislation the Condo board would have the tools necessary without having to rack up legals...

Without all the gory details, the OP might have a point here....
Deal Guru
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Mar 23, 2008
12431 posts
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Edmonton
cartfan123 wrote: That’s sensible legislation in my book. Any reasonable owner would work with the condo board to have the problem tenant removed then.

But there is a possibility that the property manager jumped the gun while the landlord was already going thru the process, knowing they could immediately cram down any legal fees to the owner. And the owner doesn’t really have much recourse for them racking up fees.

It would seem that based on the legislation the Condo board would have the tools necessary without having to rack up legals...

Without all the gory details, the OP might have a point here....
Alberta's RTA is so much more reasonable than Ontario's in general as well... Have a one year lease? Guess what... It's over in one year, unless BOTH the landlord AND tenant want to renew it. Have a month to month lease? Landlord can terminate it with three months notice, no reason required. Rent increases? Once per year, no limit. Don't like the increase as a tenant? Find another unit at market value.

C
Member
Nov 5, 2009
226 posts
145 upvotes
If the timelines happened as quick as the op said I would think he has a legitimate case. And from experience on my condo boards the bar to evict a tenant is significant and time consuming. Threatening to fight a property manager IMO is hardly grounds to evict.

Ive had some bad property managers in Edmonton who probably got threatened on a daily basis.

But who knows... it would be interesting to hear how this plays out.
Deal Guru
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Mar 23, 2008
12431 posts
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Edmonton
gwill211 wrote: If the timelines happened as quick as the op said I would think he has a legitimate case. And from experience on my condo boards the bar to evict a tenant is significant and time consuming. Threatening to fight a property manager IMO is hardly grounds to evict.

Ive had some bad property managers in Edmonton who probably got threatened on a daily basis.

But who knows... it would be interesting to hear how this plays out.
Threatening to beat up the property manager may have given them enough ammunition to file for an eviction, and who knows if the tenant even showed up for their hearing.

C
Deal Addict
May 12, 2014
2992 posts
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Montreal
CNeufeld wrote: Have a one year lease? Guess what... It's over in one year, unless BOTH the landlord AND tenant want to renew it. Have a month to month lease? Landlord can terminate it with three months notice, no reason required.
Just that right there would improve landlord tenant relationships tremendously.

It's amazing that you can swear to be with and take care of someone for life in front of God, a judge, and 500 of your closest friends but then for any reason or even no reason at all you can leave that person in a year.

Your doctor, your lawyer, the farmer, the pharmacist, ... All are allowed to terminate services to you if they give reasonable notice.


But God forbid you rent the duplex above you to someone who you don't get along with. Then you're potentially stuck for life in some provinces.
Penalty Box
User avatar
Dec 16, 2015
2805 posts
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Toronto
cartfan123 wrote: To other owners in the condo you are the jackass. Since tenant selection ultimately is your responsibility. It’s funny where condo owners want the upside of rentals but don’t what any of the responsibility for the tenants they put in that either damages common elements or result in fees that the rest of the condo owners would have to bear. I think you will have to pay it and then endeavour on your own dime to sue the tenant for that bill separately. Which it sounds like there’s a good case unless the tenant is a deadbeat with no assets.

But instead you want to sue your condo board? Go luck with that as this recent thread reveals.

https://forums.redflagdeals.com/lesson- ... d-2307688/
You want to babysit an adult?
To the moon
Deal Addict
Jun 7, 2017
1007 posts
784 upvotes
BC
daisyyu12 wrote: Today I received a bill $4500, including the legal fee caused by a jackass tenant in this Feb.
Omitted the rest, does not matter. LMFAO.
Sr. Member
Mar 9, 2014
660 posts
664 upvotes
Ottawa
$4500 in legal expenses is not that high, but shouldn't the losing party, i.e. the tenant who threatened the property manager, be on the hook for this?
Deal Addict
May 12, 2014
2992 posts
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Montreal
huntclub wrote: $4500 in legal expenses is not that high, but shouldn't the losing party, i.e. the tenant who threatened the property manager, be on the hook for this?

The question is, if the tenant is insolvent, who should shoulder the burden? Should the costs be spread to all units? Or go to the unit who caused the expense?
Jr. Member
Jun 3, 2017
173 posts
137 upvotes
daisyyu12 wrote: Today I received a bill $4500, including the legal fee caused by a jackass tenant in this Feb.

In this Feb, the jackass tenant, whose name is Jay, left the window open during -20, and refused to close the windows. Had loud music every early morning, so other owners living in the condo building complained and condo board asked me to have him move out. I talked to him and brought the case to the landlord/tenant dispute resolution service (in Alberta) since he refused to move out. I had to go to the dispute service first before bringing this to the court. This tenant sent email to the proper manager and said he would like to beat him up since the property manager asked me (the owner) to move him out. I then told the property manager that I am seeking for moving him out, but the dispute service took 2 weeks to hear my case. Without my knowledge, the property manager hired a lawyer and brought this to the court even if he knew that I was waiting for the dispute service. The reason is that his life was threatened. The tenant lost in the court. Now the condo board sent me the bill, which is $4500.

Could I bring it to the small claim court? I was trying to move him out but the property manager (on behalf of the board as he said) just brought that to the court directly without my knowledge.

Any advice will be highly appreciated.
Your tenant; your responsibility. Period.

It's amazing how many landlords like yourself are under the impression that your tenant is the building management's, board of directors', neighbors', etc problem. At the end of the day, he's your tenant, and subsequently your problem.

Welcome to being a landlord. What? Did you expect it an "easy money" without any hassle kinda arrangement?
Deal Fanatic
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Mar 31, 2017
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The OP moved to take action against the tenant. Wasn't like he was ignoring the situation. Do you really think even phoning up references and interviewing the tenant for 30 mins means you will get a tenant who will win awards? You do you best, and the tenant puts on their best acting but in the end unless you have special ability to weed outproblematic tenants you cant do much beyond this.

Im suggesting he not immediately pay the bill until it is clarified who specifically authorized the lawyer work. If property management went beyond something the board was just exploring then it isn't up to the OP to pay for it. This is easy to find out and im mystified why the OP still doesn't know. What's he waiting for, the board to approach him?

He has plenty of time to explore his options. This isn't a lawsuit against him. It's a bill by property management that he is seeking to clarify.
Deal Fanatic
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Dec 27, 2009
7487 posts
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Victoria, BC
And you will end up being the reason that nobody will be allowed to rent out their unit in your building. I sense a change coming to your Condo's bylaws (if enough of the other owners are fed up with it). Wait for it...

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