The Tenant Conundrum

The Tenant Conundrum                                         
By Phil Rosenzweig

There is a misconception amongst some Condominium Boards and Owners that suggests that Tenants are the cause of most Bylaw infractions in the community and that they are really only guests tolerated by the Community and should not really be treated as part of the community. Therein lies the problem.

In some Condominiums Tenants actually outnumber or are a very large component of the occupant mix. This may make it very difficult to attract Owners to serve on The Board of Directors, or pass resolutions requiring Owner support. 
If not acknowledged as part of the community, Tenants can fulfill Owners perception as ‘not caring’ or ‘troublesome’ residents as they may feel disenfranchised. They may have their own perception that they are being treated as second class residents. 
This is clearly not always the case. There are many Tenants who are more respectful of Condominium Bylaws and actively participate in the activities of the Community than some Owners. There are many Condominium communities where Tenants are included. 
In order to have a clear understanding of the perception of the problem you should understand that both The Condominium Corporation and the Tenant have rights in law for their mutual protection.

The Condominium has its rights based on the Condominium Property Act (CPA) and the Corporation’s Bylaws and can be summarized as follows;

  • Tenants are subject to the Bylaws of the Corporation.
  • It is an Owner’s responsibility to ensure that their Tenant understands what the rules and Bylaws of the Condominium are liable for the conduct of their tenant while living on the property.
  • Tenants are not subject to the Condominium Property Act, the unit Owner is.
  • Tenants as well as Owners may be fined if your Bylaws allow for it.
  • Owners re obligated to report the names and contact information to Condominium Boards and/or Management of their Tenants and any changes,
  • Condominium Boards have no power to prohibit Owners from renting out their units, but may include specific regulations in their Bylaws.

Tenants have their rights based on the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) and can be summarized as follows:

  1. The Contract with the Tenant is with the Owner of the unit;
  2. The Tenant has rights of peaceful enjoyment of the unit they are renting;
  3. Tenants enjoy the same rights and obligations provided for under the Condominium Bylaws;
  4. Owners have obligations to their Tenants, and vice versa, Condo Boards have obligations to their Owners.

If the rights of a Tenant under the RTA conflict with the CPA, the CPA takes precedence.

If the rights of the Tenant are abrogated by an action of the Board both the Tenant and the Owner may have grounds for legal action.

At the end of the day the Condominium Board has the right to request the unit Owner remove a Tenant if the Bylaws are continuously breached or the Tenant is a threat to the safety of the other members of the Community or to the common property of the Corporation. But Boards do however need to be prepared to support the request in a court of law to enact this. That means a full paper trail supporting the request for action.

The best-case scenario for Condominium Boards is to be as inclusive as possible and keep the lines of communications open to all residents.

  • If functions and activities and social events are planned at your Condominium, include all residents.
  • If policies are developed by the Board, they must be applied to all residents equally regardless of whether they are Owners or Tenants.

Allow Tenants to attend your AGM and Board meetings (if your Board allows attendance). They may be given proxy to vote by Owners or may just want to listen to the proceedings. Check your Bylaws, some Bylaws allow non-Owners to be members of the Board of Directors. 
By its definition a Condominium is a community. Wouldn’t it make sense to allow all residents full participation and inclusion in your Community? You never know what this may do for the development of true Community spirit and participation if everyone has a chance to be involved and is treated the same.

Phil has owned and lived in Condominiums across the country for over 25 years. He has been involved in his own condo boards and CCI (Canadian Condominium Institute) for more than a decade. Recently Phil was a licenced Condominium Property Manager in Lethbridge AB and is currently the Warehouse Coordinator for the Lethbridge Food Bank.

This article originally appeared in Condo Owners Forum newsletter #14 – April 2017

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