The condo board withdrew permission for her son to stay with her and informed her that he had to move out. (Photo: iStock)
A case that came before the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta shows the danger of relying on a verbal assurance by a developer, or his or her representative, when buying a condominium.
A woman wanted to buy a condo unit in an “adults only” building but there was one snag: she had a minor son, and she made him living with her a condition of buying the condo unit. The developer’s representative told her “this would not be a problem,” as the bylaw is lenient, and based on that she decided to purchase the unit in 2012.
Turns out it was a problem. In March 2014, the condo board withdrew permission for her son to stay with her and informed her that he had to move out, giving her three months to comply.
She tried to sell her unit, hired two realtors and lowered her listing price but she was unsuccessful.
By November 2014, she still hadn’t moved her son out and the board met and decided to fine her $250 every two weeks starting January 1, 2015, as long as her son was still living with her.
The board went to court to have her son evicted and the fines enforced in May 2015. By that time, she had accumulated a large amount of fines and went to court to have them dismissed but didn’t ask to stop the eviction order as she managed to sell the unit in the meantime.
Was the developer’s representative responsible for giving a false assurance?
The court found that such “private arrangements” between a developer and an owner do not create an obligation on the board, therefore it was a non-issue.
What was at issue here was whether the fines that the board levied against her were legitimate, and the court found that they weren’t.
There has to be a useful purpose served by a fine and in this case there was none as she had tried to comply with the board’s demand that her son leave by unsuccessfully trying to sell her unit.
The court further commented that the bylaw that forbade minors to stay in the building, as well as the fines, were at the discretion of the board. They didn’t have to enforce them, especially as the board didn’t give reasons for doing so and neither she nor her son was a problem tenant.
“The by-laws are not to be treated as a version of legislated inhumanity” concluded the court.
The court dismissed the fines against her and awarded her the expenses she was forced to spend in hiring a lawyer and going to court.