Condominium Property Rights: Right of Entry & Record Keeping

Condo rights are an important part of condo management in Toronto. It is important for property management companies to understand that residents have a certain reasonable expectation of privacy within their personal units and that this expectation should not be lightly breached.

These rights are more important than ever, with condo living on the rise in Toronto. 92% of current construction projects on tall buildings in Toronto are residential in nature at this time, compared to 65% in most other cities. Almost 14,000 new condominium units were sold in Toronto in 2013.

On the other hand, it is also important for unit owners to understand that they live in cooperation with their condo board, property management company, and each other. Because of this necessary cooperation, they sometimes have a reduced expectation of privacy when compared to owners of single-family homes.

The extent to which your rights to privacy apply will depend on a number of factors: the type of unit you live in, such as a high rise or a townhome; how proactive your condo board is in enforcement of certain rules and maintenance practices; and the published rules and regulations, Declaration, and By-Laws for your particular condo corporation.

Condominium property management companies must respect tenants rights

Generally speaking, condominium property management companies must respect certain rights applicable to all condo owners; these include your personal property rights regarding the belongings you keep within your condo, as well as your right to use and enjoy your condo relatively undisturbed. You also have a right to use and enjoy any common elements maintained by your condo board.

While you should enjoy these rights to the fullest extent possible, there are certain exceptions that apply. If you are interested in learning more about the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of condo unit owners, board members, and management companies, you should review our eBook, which is available for download and explains a number of the issues impacting condo communities today.

Here are a few areas you should be familiar with when it comes to condo privacy rights.

Condominium Act Ontario Right of Entry

The condo board or condo management in Toronto often reserves a right of entry as part of the declaration or bylaws. This right of entry typically covers situations such as compliance with authorities, such as in the instance of a police warrant or subpoena, as well as necessary maintenance and repairs.

Residents should expect to provide entry to authorized condo repair and maintenance professionals when needed. Often, a repair will impact multiple units and may stem from one unit in particular. When that is the case, a unit owner may be required to provide access, or else face legal action due to any ongoing damage that occurs from failing to facilitate the repair.

Note that a right to entry can lead to some murky legal situations. In a case that has garnered a lot of recent news attention, some residents were running an illegal online scam requesting money from people via email. A superintendent went into the condo unit to repair a leak and noticed suspicious materials, which he then reported to the property manager, who proceeded to involve the police. This led to successful sentencing of the perpetrators.

Proceed with caution

Rights to entry are limited, and condo boards and condominium property management companies should proceed with caution, even when complying with law enforcement. Security personnel and concierges should ensure that the information contained on a warrant is correct, and should have clear policies in place about how to proceed if any information is incorrect, or if the police show up without a warrant because a crime is underway. Property managers can potentially be held liable if damage occurs during a forcible police entry that later turns out to be unjustified.

There can also be repercussions when information is incorrect. If the wrong unit is searched, then the evidence can be missed or thrown out, which can ruin the prosecution of an important case. It can also lead to liability for the condo board and management company, and allow potential criminals to remain in the building due to a technicality.

Personal Information and Records

There are a number of regulations that apply to the use of personal information collected by private organizations. The specific legislation that condo boards and condominium property management companies should be aware of is the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). This law applies to any personal information that is disclosed, used, or collected by many private organizations involved in commercial activities.

personal & private information rights for tenantsWhile there is some debate as to whether a condominium corporation might be considered a “commercial” entity for purposes of this law, it provides some very useful guidelines and best practices to which property managers should likely adhere. It also governs the use of an electronic collection of such information.

A summary of the law as it applies to condo management companies in Toronto is that resident information that is collected should not be distributed except for purposes for which the organization is in operation, and any disclosure of such information should be accompanied by written and informed consent of the residents involved. There are some exceptions, such as publicly available information or during an emergency.

Use of personal information Examples

Examples of acceptable use of personal information in a condominium context includes providing residents with certain meeting and regulation notices, providing notice of any liens against the property, or disclosure via a Status Certificate. Otherwise, residents’ information should not be provided to another organization unless it is to pursue or comply with certain legal actions.

If you are ever uncertain about the use of private information, be sure to contact your condo board, property management company, or legal counsel in order to get better information. Note that a condo lawyer is often your best source. ICC® is unable to provide legal advice to residents or condo boards, as we are not licensed lawyers, so be sure to seek specific legal advice related to your particular situation from a condo lawyer.

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