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The duty of a condominium corporation to accommodate disabled residents is highlighted by a decision from the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal released earlier this year.
Mr. P. moved into a condominium in Toronto, in September, 2016. He still lives there.
He uses a scooter and has difficulty entering the building’s front doors. His disability affects his hands and he must pull one of the doors open then wedge his scooter between the doors.
Mr. P. asked the condominium to install automatic door openers at the front of the building to allow him to enter more easily and without risk.
A year after Mr. P. moved in, an engineering report commissioned by the condominium concluded that it was not possible to install automatic openers compliant with the Ontario Building Code.
Instead, the corporation proposed installing automatic door openers at the back door, but Mr. P. was not satisfied and commenced an application to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal in October, 2017. In December, 2017 — some 15 months after he moved in — automatic door openers were installed at the rear entrance.
Mr. P. rejected the rear door as inappropriate and stated in his human rights application that he had been discriminated against because of his disability. He felt the rear-door automatic door openers were not a reasonable accommodation, saying it was embarrassing and an injury to his dignity, since other residents were entitled to use the front door.
In its decision this past April, the tribunal found that Mr. P.’s condominium had a “duty to take positive action to ensure that members of disadvantaged groups benefit equally from services offered to the general public.”
After concluding that the installation of automatic openers at the front door was not feasible, the tribunal decided that their installation at the rear entrance was a reasonable solution.
However, the tribunal also determined that the building owners failed to deal with Mr. P.’s request with “due diligence and dispatch” since it took about 15 months from the time that he moved in to make an entrance to the building accessible. As a result, the building’s owners were ordered to pay $10,000 in general damages as compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.
Denise Lash, a condominium law expert at Lash Condo Law in Toronto, cautioned in a recent blog on her website that the case underlines the necessity to accommodate disabled residents.
“Not only must the corporation assess the request and all accommodation options open to it, it must do so promptly and within a reasonable time period …” Lash wrote.
by Bob Aaron
Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer and frequent speaker to groups of home buyers and real estate agents.
He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 416-364-9366 or fax 416-364-3818.