Why Have a Harassment Rule?
Why all Condominiums Should Consider a Civil Behavior Rule
Unacceptable conduct by unit owners and residents towards property managers, directors, other residents, contractors and the like, is, unfortunately, a major problem in condominiums. There have been instances where enraged unit owners have come to the management office, aggressively stood in the only exit to the management office, and videotaped the manager. This type of conduct is not only unacceptable, but puts the manager under great stress. Another example and continuing problem in condominiums is incessant communications, such as a resident visiting security or management several times a day for the same problem, or a resident sending numerous vexatious emails per day. Not only does this behaviour monopolize the time of the condominium corporation’s staff and take away from their ability to effectively perform their duties, but it likely also constitutes harassment.
As a result, it is prudent for condominium corporations to pass a rule defining unacceptable conduct (also known as a Civil Behaviour Rule).
Why Should a Condominium Corporation Pass a Civil Behaviour Rule?
The first reason is the obvious: The rule sets strong parameters for what is considered unacceptable behaviour, and it sends a message to all residents about what may be done by the condominium corporation if the rule is breached.
The second and very important reason to pass such a rule is that it will greatly improve the ability of the condominium corporation to charge back the unit owner for the costs incurred by the corporation as a result of the unacceptable conduct. Why? This is because most declarations only allow indemnification for breaches of the Condominium Act, 1998 and/or for breaches of the condominium corporation’s declaration, by laws or rules. If unacceptable conduct is set out in a rule, and the rule is breached, the ability of the condominium corporation to achieve indemnification is greatly strengthened. For example, some forms of unacceptable conduct such as constant sarcasm or raising one’s voice multiple times may not fall squarely within the scope of any of the corporation’s existing rules, and therefore cannot be considered a breach of any rule or by law for the purposes of a charge back or indemnification. The passage of a Civil Behaviour Rule greatly improves this conundrum, and allows a greater possibility for a condominium corporation to collect any costs from the unit owner for a breach of the rule.
What Does the Rule Say?
The rule is quite detailed in defining what is unacceptable conduct. This includes sarcasm, yelling, incessant communications, inappropriate communications, rudeness, and much more.
The rule also prohibits:
- the monopolization of the corporation’s staff;
- making multiple requests that do not have regard to the purposes of the Condominium Act, 1998; and,
- improper communication or behaviour on social media, and more.
Does the Rule Say What the Condominium Corporation Can Do if the Rule is Breached?
Yes. The rule has various sanctions that can be implemented against the offending person, such as:
- restricting contact with certain individuals;
- requiring communication only in writing;
- requiring communication to cease entirely in extreme cases, except in the event of emergencies;
- limiting the distance of the offending individual from staff or other residents;
- requiring a retraction or apology; and,
- any other reasonable direction or action that the board deems necessary in the circumstances.
As noted above, the unit owner will, in most cases be responsible for the costs incurred by the condominium corporation as a result of the breach.
We, in the condominium industry have encountered the above circumstances on numerous occasions and, while the passage of a Civil Behaviour Rule will not completely cure our communities of unacceptable conduct, at least it will give condominium corporations some teeth to deal with it.
If your condominium corporation is interested in passing a Civil Behaviour Rule, then please contact us and we would be pleased to assist.