The low fees mindset
If you are in a condo where a large majority of owners are determined to freeze the condo fees, or will tolerate only minimal increases, then eventual financial doom will be that condo's fate. There is no getting around it.

Do these condos exist? Sure they do and in far larger numbers than you would think possible.

The danger signs
No fee increases
"maintenance fee"
maintenance fee $519/monthly, included everything, even tv cable. from 2005 to 2014, last 10 years, maintenance fee only increased $30.
posting on Condo Advisory 15 Nov 2014

The above was posted on Condo Advisory, a condo rating site. It refers to a condo high-rise in Mississauga. Note: "from 2005 to 2014, last ten years, maintenance fee only increased $30."

How do they get away with this? It's simple. They do the minimum of maintenance, starve the reserve funds and ignore water leaks in the underground parking garage, a serious cockroach infestation and the crumbling bricks on the exterior walls.

A real estate agent told me that he took a client to look at this building and it looked so rough that he lost the client.

Here is an example from another condo, this one situated in the west-end of Toronto.

"Bank Statements:
As reported both at the Annual General Meeting and a subsequent owners’ information meeting, the amount of monthly common expenses has not been increased  in over seven years. As a result, given increases in utilities costs in recent years, it was necessary to use reserve fund money on an emergency basis to pay utility bills."

The above statement was written in a letter by the condo corporation's lawyer to a tiny group of disgruntled owners.
Owners can't see the corporation's records
As much as possible, everything is kept a secret from the owners so they will not know how bad things are. Requests to see the financial records are ignored.
This is far more common than you would expect. One west-end condo, after the "reformers" gained control in 2007, had AGMs in the following years.
2008  Elected a new board.
2012  The result of a requisition meeting started by disgruntled owners.
2014  The disgruntled owners were agitating for another AGM.

In seven years, this condo had three AGMs and in each case, the financial statements for the previous year were not presented.
Cutting back on services
The board cuts costs by closing amenities, eliminating security, cutting the cleaning hours and skipping regularly scheduled maintenance.
Windows aren't washed
It is hard to think that clean windows is important when the condo is not paying the water or electrical bills but unwashed windows is also a sign that the roof anchors have not passed inspection by a qualified engineer.
Major water leaks
The leaking roof and hot water risers get patched, not replaced and the leaking building envelope and underground parking garage leaks are ignored.
Cockroach infestations
It is surprising how many condos ignore large-scale roach infestations.
Unqualified contractors
When the fees are too low, it is obvious that the board will hire the cheapest contractors that they can find. Cheap does not mean good or even adequate; just cheap.
Reserve Fund Studies
Instead of having an updated Reserve Fund Study every three years, one west-end condo had one done at eight years and then refused approve the study or show the engineers' report to the owners.
Starting to look ratty
Many low-fee condos focus on "curb appeal" by keeping the front entrance, the lobby and the hallways looking good but they give the game away if a potential buyer takes a look at the staircases or if they take a walk through the underground parking garage.
Bills aren't paid in full
The monthly bills get paid in rotation with the corporation racking up tens of thousands in penalties. Much of this is hidden from the owners.
Opponents are harassed
Owners who challenge the board by asking to see the records or run against the incumbents are harassed and they receive expensive legal letters that they must pay or get a lien on their unit.

Having your cake & eating it too
I went to an AGM in the above mentioned building and an elderly man stood up and told the board that he has had serious mould problems in his unit for several years now and his windows leak whenever it rains. He pleaded with the board to fix these problems.

I told the owner, who gave me a proxy so I could attend the meeting, that this old fellow would help her in her fight to remove the board.

She said he will not help. Sure he wants his unit fixed but he doesn't want his monthly fees to go up.

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