How balcony umbrellas are covered by the Condo Act
My balcony faces west on the 34th floor and can be relentlessly hot in summer and impossible to use. Can I use an umbrella to be clamped onto the balcony railing? It would not be a permanent fixture.
Section 98 of the Condominium Act permits an owner to make an addition, alteration or improvement to a common element provided that the board consents and the unit owner and the corporation have entered into an agreement — to be registered against the owner’s unit. It must specify who is responsible for the cost for the expense of maintaining, repairing and insuring it.
The question in your situation is whether the umbrella, when temporarily attached to the balcony railing, is an addition, alteration or improvement to the common elements requiring compliance with Section 98. Your balcony may be an exclusive use common element but it is nonetheless a common element.
You would be wise to have the umbrella attached to a pedestal and not attached to the common element railing — or to any other part of the balcony, even temporarily. That would enable a judge or arbitrator to determine that the umbrella is no different than a table or chair, and is not an addition, alteration or improvement to the common elements.
If the corporation insists that such an umbrella be removed, you might require mediation with the corporation. A failed mediation will result in arbitration and the arbitrator will provide a binding determination as to whether Section 98 of the Act is applicable. Bear in mind that if the arbitrator were to rule against you, you may be required to reimburse the corporation for some or all of its legal costs.
My son bought a condo unit based upon his real estate agent’s confirmation that there was no restriction barring his dog. After closing, my son received correspondence from the condominium corporation requiring the removal of his dog, which exceeds the weight limit for dogs set out in the corporation’s rules. Must the dog be removed?
A declaration provision or a rule stipulating the number of dogs, or the weight of a dog permitted, in a unit is valid. The board is obligated to enforce the restriction.
Your son might consider looking into selling his unit and purchasing a unit in a building without such a weight restriction. He might also consider suing his negligent real estate agent for costs and expenses in making the change in units. You should consult a condominium litigation lawyer.
A leak in the ceiling of the garage above my parents’ parking space damaged their car while they were away on vacation. The board of directors has referred us to the builder as being responsible for the damage. Is that correct?
The builder may be responsible for the cost of repairs if it can be shown that the leak was the result of the builder’s negligence.
On the other hand, if the builder was not negligent and the damage was the result of a building failure due to wear and tear, the condominium corporation would be responsible.
Gerry Hyman is a former president of the Canadian Condominium Institute and contributor for the Star. Reach him on email: