Court holds that condo corporation may charge unit owners for cable services contracted on a bulk basis, autumn 2008

RM owned a residential condominium unit in YCC No. 216, which had entered into a “bulk” contract with a supplier of basic cable television services to the condominium and charged the cost to each owner as a common expense. RM objected to paying for this service and withheld payment of this part of the common expenses. The Corporation liened her unit.

In the subsequent action, YCC No. 216 argued that “whenever the condominium corporation pays, the unit owners pay.” The Court, in dismissing RM’s case, did not go quite as far as this. Rather, it framed the issue as “whether this expense is related to the performance of the objects or duties of the Corporation.” The Court found that the by-laws of the Corporation give it the standard corporate authority to enter into contracts and its By-law No. 7 provided that its duties are not limited to the operation and maintenance of the common elements and the supply of utilities to the units.

“I am satisfied that the duties of the Corporation under By-law No. 7 can reasonably include entering into contracts for the supply of services, such as cable TV or internet, to the unit owners. While these services are not “utilities”, they are sufficiently similar to utilities, in this day and age, that in my view they fall reasonably within the duties of the Corporation.“

The Court found three additional circumstances that were relevant to its conclusion. First, s. 22 of the condominium Act contemplates that the corporation may enter into a telecommunications agreement in which all or part of the charges are invoiced to the corporation. Second, it seems to be common for condominium corporations to enter into bulk contracts for cable TV services and the practice has been implicitly recognized in several cases. Third, the Corporation’s contract with Rogers has been in place for more than ten years. It seems to have been accepted by the plaintiff, as it apparently has by other unit owners, for most of those years and she may well have received the benefits of the arrangement in the past by attracting tenants and recovering the cost through higher rents.

Mancuso v. York Condominium Corporation No. 216, 2008 (ON S.C.)