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Ask the Lawyer: “I recently bought my condo and a locker, but my locker is currently occupied by somebody else.”

A reader asks: “I recently bought my condo and a locker, but my locker is currently occupied by somebody else. I asked building management a couple of times, but they said they are not responsible to vacate my locker. They can loan me the pliers to let me cut the padlock, but still, they said they are not responsible to temporarily store the stuff that is already in there. So, what if that person came back and ask for his/her stuff?”

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Before closing on your new condo, inspect the lockers as well as the condo unit. Our reader asked lawyer Richard Hoffman what to do when the locker they bought is full and locked. The answer may surprise you.

 

Richard Hoffman answers: “The owner’s legal ownership of his storage space places him in control of the individual’s possessions that are currently stored in this space, making him an involuntary bailee.

Although the law in the area of involuntary bailment remains somewhat unsettled, it is likely that the owner will only be held liable for any damages resulting from the disposal of the items stored in the locker or if the owner is grossly negligent. The case law suggests that even in situations where an involuntarily bailee has chosen to remove the items from the safety of the locker, they will be held to have met a reasonable standard of care if they take precautions to store the property and inform the bailor where the property can be found.

I would suggest that the owner post a sign in the lobby and on the locker that the lock will be changed and the items stored somewhere where they will not be damaged or stolen. In other words, don’t put the items on the curb.”

RICHARD P. HOFFMAN

Richard Hoffman has been a member of DelZotto, Zorzi LLP since 1992, practicing in the area of condominium law. He has represented condominium corporations and unit owners through all stages of the litigation process and at all levels of Ontario Courts (Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court and Court of Appeal). He is well experienced in handling all types of condominium litigation, from applications to enforcing compliance with declarations, by-laws or rules, to handling multi-million dollar claims for budget misrepresentation. He has also advised condominium corporations of various sizes on all facets of condominium law.

Richard is presently a member of the Canadian Condominium Institute and regularly lectures on contract and agency law in the condominium context at Humber College, as well, he is a regular contributor to various condominium magazines and has contributed to the condominium section of the Toronto Star.

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