Canada's Condominium Magazine

Ask the Lawyer: Landlord asks why he is reponsible for his tenant’s altercation; warned by condo management and billed for legal costs

A reader asks:

“I have recently been put in the middle between my new tenant and the condominium management.

My tenant and my tenants friends recently got into an altercation with condominium security and management. Nothing physical, but “apparently” building management felt threatened and called the police. Police came, took some notes, nothing happened.

I, the landlord, have now recieved a very threatening letter from the condo corps lawyers, that amongst other legal threats towards me, is giving me a bill for over $1000 for there legal fees to write me this “warning” letter.

Could someone please tell me how this is fair?
Number  1 —  what does this have to do with me?

Number 2 — how can someone else’s lawyer send me a bill for their time? I have no choice but to either pay it or pay another lawyer as much or more money to argue it? this type of thing can’t be legal?”

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Richard Hoffman Answers: “Owners that rent out their condo units have to be aware that they are responsible for any problems that their tenants cause in the unit or in the condo building.

The Condominium Act specifically says that owners have a duty to ensure that their tenants comply with the Act, Declaration, by-laws and Rules. If the tenant breaches any of these, the owner is responsible.

In this case, the owner is responsible because the corporation had to get their lawyer involved to send a letter to the tenant. The Corporation has the right to seek indemnification from any owner that causes the corporation to incur damages. This includes legal fees. The owner is responsible for payment of these fees. I will admit that 1000 seems awfully high for a letter. There may have been more involvement by the lawyer. The owner can ask to see the invoice.

 

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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