The following is a guest post by Marc P. Kemerer a partner with Blaney McMurtry LLP in the firm’s Planning and Expropriation law group and the Architectural/Construction/Engineering Services (ACES) Group. Marc has acted for a number of large developers and regularly provides strategic and legal advice on large residential, condominium, retail/commercial and subdivision developments.

Forget pensions, the latest issue coming out of Ottawa involves a dispute between a condominium owner (the “Owner”) and his condominium board (the “Board”) in that city. Every night the Owner recharges his Chevrolet Volt using an electric outlet located in the garage or parking area of the building. The Owner asserts that the daily cost of this recharge is one dollar.

The position of the Board is that the other condominium owners should not be required to subsidize the Owner’s additional electricity usage. The Board has demanded that the Owner install a check meter to monitor the additional usage — reportedly at a potential cost of $3,000 — and pay the additional cost directly. Interestingly, the condominium rules in place, according to the CBC, would allow the Owner to plug in a block heater for his car.

This issue highlights the importance for developers of anticipating all potential uses, particularly with the rapid change of technology, and the need to provide clarity in the condominium documents with respect to those potential future uses.

It also suggests that condominium boards should ensure the building functions in accordance with the Declaration, By-laws, Rules and Budget. If the charging outlet was installed by the developer and these documents permit such use, or similar use without separate charge, it is quite possible that the owner can successfully challenge the Board’s position on the basis that the outlet was to be included in the common expenses for all unit owners to pay, and no additional check or consumption meter is required.

If nothing else, it demonstrates that there is always a spark in the nation’s capital.

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