Condo Smarts: How to deal with ‘family
We have an owner in our building who should never have been moved into
a condo. There have been a number of fires in her suite, she is
constantly giving strangers keys to our buildings, and her safety is
always a problem.
We have two residents who reach out to her every day to make sure she
is safe, has a good meal for dinner, and is taking her medication.
How does a strata council deal with families who buy a condo to simply
house an elderly parent to avoid the costs of care facilities?
Lindsay F., Kelowna BC
The growing trend of family “warehousing” is a significant security and
safety risk for the occupant and residents of any multi-family
building. This is a daily complaint to our offices about abandoned
parents who are a danger to strata communities and themselves.
Family members often look at the cost of independent-care facilities
and realize if the family member survives 10 to 20 years, the estate
can be easily depleted, leaving the family with no inheritance or
remaining resources to maintain the continued care requirements for
So they purchase a condo, usually older and at a lower price from the
proceeds of a downsized home. This ensures the family member has
housing and the estate is left intact with a likely increase in
property appreciation. It all seems like a simple solution, but it is a
tragic symptom of divided and broken family systems, families who do
not have space or resources to maintain home-care services, or heirs
who have abandoned family members to protect inheritances.
The implications are far reaching for strata corporations when faced
with a problem resident. Kitchen fires often caused by forgotten
cooking, floods from abandoned tubs and overloaded washing machines,
and erratic activities are all frequent complaints — and affect
everyone in the community.
A strata has a number of options that can hopefully yield some success.
A family meeting with the strata council and resident is always the
best start. There may be valid reasons for the owner living
independently. Maintaining a close family contact will be essential
when emergencies or medical problems arise.
The family member may also be a good go-between, saving the council
from conflict. Failing the family contact, working through health
authorities is a good starting place. A strata may contact home health
services, generally by city or region, which can be found by Googling
home and community support through your local health authority. The
service line will take the information from a concerned neighbour,
landlord or strata council, and set up an appointment directly with the
resident to evaluate their needs.
Strata councils also need to remember that strata bylaws still have to
be enforced. We often avoid applying bylaws where there are sensitive
issues, but the application of fines or collection of insurance
deductibles when claims arise may be the catalyst to force family
members to act.
Let’s not forget the residents and council members who care for people
in need. Their kindness and compassion is what makes our strata
communities a great place to live across our province.
Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners
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