Though the board issued notices to members to stop the vandalism and installed more cameras, they did little else to help residents. (Photo: iStock)
Do condo and housing boards have a duty to take action when residents are being harassed?
According to the following Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario case, they do.
The facts in this case are quite disturbing. Several residents in a non-profit housing cooperative were targets of 18 terribly offensive, crude and discriminatory messages in 2012.
To give you an idea just how offensive the messages were, a part of one of the messages started out by saying “Come see the inbreeds and retarts in 4XX. . .” The rest of the message was even worse and had a few more spelling mistakes.
You’d think if a person went out of their way to call people horrible names, they’d at least get the spelling right.
These messages were found in elevators, on walls and on flyers taped to the residents doors.
Though the housing co-op board issued notices to members to stop the vandalism and installed more cameras, which were ineffective, they did little else to help the residents who were being targeted.
The tribunal pointed out that all these messages insulted the residents based on forbidden discrimination grounds which violated the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Though the tribunal acknowledged that the co-op wanted the harassment of residents to stop, the board also didn’t treat the issue as seriously as they should have and a consequence of that was that the harassment continued. The person who committed the vandalism and harassment was never found.
Housing providers, such as landlords, boards, co-operatives and more, have an obligation to address complaints that involve human rights violations. They are supposed to address violations through being aware of the harassment and violations, having complaint mechanisms, address the complaints promptly, treat them seriously, take action and resolve the complaints.
The tribunal found that the board did very little to address the violations. In fact, the tribunal found “significant deficiencies in the respondent’s [the board] response to the harassment directed at the applicants [the residents].”
The co-op as ordered to pay $3,000 to every harassed resident. The tribunal also ordered a shaming remedy in the form of the co-op having to post the tribunal’s decision on the bulletin boards of the co-op for six months.