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Condo News
26 June 2015

Opportunities seen in booming condo market as reforms emerge
Bill 106 aims to streamline dispute process, provides lawyers with opportunities.

Armand Conant, head of the condominium law group at Shibley Righton in Toronto, predicts opportunities for condominium lawyers, real estate and developer lawyers, and litigators.
http://www.lawyersweekly.ca/articles/2411

Trump Hotel investors head to court
About a half dozen buyers of pricey condo/hotel rooms in Toronto’s five-star Trump International Hotel & Tower will be in court Thursday, hoping that an Ontario Superior Court justice will agree to fast-track their efforts to renege on real estate deals gone bad.
http://on.thestar.com/1HhghZT

Condo Questions:
Robert Noce, Q.C writes a very good column on condo issues in the Edmonton Journal.
http://bit.ly/1RjReVk

10 Signs of Co-op / Condo Financial Trouble
A useful list for owners to keep tab of their condo investment.
http://bit.ly/1Ruef8a

ACMO 2000 Certification revoked

It was announced in the current CM Magazine that Greater Toronto Property Management Inc. has had its ACMO 2000 certification revoked.

The reasons for this unusual decision were not published but it looks like standards are being taken seriously.

Police search for Hollywood Beach condo manager
Kristin Glansen allegedly embezzled more than $200,000 from condo.

Hollywood police have put out a grand theft warrant for the arrest of the 35-year-old condo manager, who allegedly embezzled more than $225,000 from The Waterway condominium on Hollywood Beach over a two year period.

The Readers' Comments under the article are a must read.
http://bit.ly/1HdaHG3

Blossom Park condo complex continues to sit in ruins
A Florida condo hits bottom. The county has not said whether it will force residents out of the dilapidated properties.
http://bit.ly/1CrcTEl

Australian strata manager failed to inform owners about safety defects
Connie Zhang was forced to jump to her death from the building on West Terrace Bankstown when the fire in her unit became so ferocious it melted the aluminum window frames.

"Do you agree that it would have been important for the owners' corporation and the executive committee to know the terms of the order suggesting defects in fire safety?" counsel assisting the inquest, Stephen Rushton SC, said.

"Yes," Mr Poulos replied.

Under strata law, a manager must inform the owners' corporation of all matters of substance relating to the building.

Mr Poulos said that while he had not provided the written orders to all owners, he had verbally informed their executive committee about the issues and was "trying to get them fixed".
http://bit.ly/1H8Gl7F

Should Poor Doors Be Banned? Aqualina Bayside Stirs the Waters.
The difficulties may come in the future when the shared common elements like the roof and the building envelope needs expensive repairs. Will the city be willing to cough up the money?
http://bit.ly/1dbeaZv

Poor doors for the middle class?
Sure thing if the condo, like this one in San Francisco is built for the rich.
http://bit.ly/1dbdAuB

Reader's comments
I just wanted to know that I load up your condo news page every morning, and find myself sending articles to my fellow Board members every week or two.  I’ve forwarded it on to my property manager, and invited him to send it to his co-workers.

Thanks for being an excellent resource.
—Justin

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Condo News
22 June 2015

Demanding exorbitant fees
A condo management company demands $300 to be paid in advance when owner asks to examine a few corporation records.
http://bit.ly/1MRV4Ur

How to make the most of a small condo balcony
Some ideas on how to make good use of a small balcony.
http://bit.ly/1CAzz8j

Fort York community frustrated with 32-storey condo proposal
If concerns not resolved with builder, issue could go to the OMB
http://bit.ly/1LjWY2U

Upper West Side condo board demands doggy DNA tests
The board has a list of 27 breeds that “are not permitted to reside in the building based upon documented information regarding their tendency towards aggressiveness,” the policy says.

The list of forbidden Fidos includes Malteses, Pomeranians, St. Bernards and German shepherds. Dogs that are unable to bring a note from their doctors will have to take a DNA test.

My two cats heartily approve of this policy. They think it is purrrfect.—editor
http://bit.ly/1fgzApI

Is this the condo from hell?
The size of the special assessments makes this condo unique but I have visited condos in the GTA which are also in bad shape. We could use our own Toronto version of Bob Norman here in southern Ontario who exposes condo issues on local television.
http://bit.ly/1ITx1DO

Strata Dopes and Strata Smackdown
A serious but funny essay on why you need to be careful about buying a residental unit above retail units.
http://bit.ly/1fn0ts0
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Condo News
16 June 2015

Edmonton targeting smoking in condos
Edmonton Fire Rescue Services will require all condo and apartment buildings to supply proper receptacles for cigarette butts if management has not outright prohibited smoking.

In the last five years, cigarettes sparked 97 fires on condo and apartment balconies, tallying $45M in damage, said fire chief Ken Block.

Over the next few months, Edmonton Fire Rescue will get word out to all condo associations and apartment owners to place the enclosed ashtrays on every balcony.

The estimated cost for each receptacle is between $25 and $100.
http://bit.ly/1Le6QIl

Thought the real estate market couldn’t get any crazier? Think again
A Maclean's article on how the overheated housing market is making everyone mean, petty, classist, greedy—even xenophobic
http://bit.ly/1eaRxG4

Are inventories piling up?

This chart from Garth Turner's blog shows that the inventory of unsold new condos in Toronto are rising. If so, we should see some bargains come autumn.

One more "The Sky is Falling" article
Surge in Condo Vacancies Concerning…
http://bit.ly/1G2RMbR

Number of condos in administration
At an information session hosted by the Yonge Sheppard Condominium Association, last Thursday, Armand Conant stated that there were 14 condo corporations in court-appointed administration.

That is somewhere where no condo wants to go.

Public input invited on rules and guidelines for Toronto's noise bylaw
Public consultation meetings will give staff an opportunity to present findings from a survey on noise that was conducted earlier this spring, as well as to gather additional input from stakeholders and the general public.

Consultation meetings (both from 6 to 8 p.m.):
• Tuesday, June 23: City Hall (Committee Room 2)
• Wednesday, June 24: North York Civic Centre (Committee Room 3)
http://bit.ly/1GnZiS6

Conopaedia
Hosted by Clifton Kok LLP
Condopædia contains a collection of short explanations about key topics relating to condominiums in Ontario.
http://bit.ly/1MRYIhF

Is this owner desperate?
Here is an ad from Kijiji
Beautiful Large 2 Bedroom + Den With Rarely Seen 2-Car Parking!! Close To Transit, Shopping, Highway, Area Amenities, Grocery Stores, And Don't Forget Yorkdale Mall. Granite Countertop & Breakfast Bar, B/I Range W/Fan & Light. Master Has 4-Pc Ensuite And Walk In Closet. Custom Designed Cabinets In Bathroom & Granite. Large Windows And Juliette Balcony.
** Seller Will Cover One Year's Maintenance Fees **


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Condo News
12 June 2015

Greater Toronto Property Management Inc.
We would like to know if you had any knowledge or experiences with this condo property management company. Requests for confidentiality will be respected.
http://www.gtpropertymanagement.com/

Our budget is out
I just picked up my copy of our condo's budget. A 1.9% increase.

The best part of the budget is the full two-pages that explains exactly how the board is planning to spend our money. Full transparency.

No wonder this condo never had a special assessment.

Another condo I am aware of had a 6% increase in fees this year plus the third special assessment in three years and the board is refusing to tell the owners just how much money is in the Reserve Funds.

Worse, they have their AGMs a full 10 to 11 months after the end of the fiscal year. We have ours three months after our fiscal year.

Two different board of directors that couldn't be more different.

Prime Ballot Positioning
Here is another case of the board and the property manager rigging a proxy form to give the incumbents a big advantage. In this case, not only do the incumbents get their names listed in the first two positions but their offices are included on the ballot.

Another example of why the property management companies cannot be trusted running condo elections and the proposed changes to the Condo Act have to address condo election procedures.


Is it the unit? Is it the condo fees?
A one bedroom condo selling for $26,000 over list price is surprising. So was the units taht great or did it have something to do with the very low condo fees? I'd guess both.


Vancouver strata (condo) spoiling kids' fun
With notices like this getting posted, is there any wonder that houses are so much higher in price than condos?

Some condo boards are really nasty towards children.

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Condo News
08 June 2015

The new Condo Act
Queens Park has recessed for the summer so Bill 106, the new Condo Act will have to wait for the autumn before it gets its second reading.

That will gives us enought time to read it and fully understand what it contains.

Don't want it or just too expensive?
Are buyers of new condos not buying parking spots because they don't want them or because they are too expensive? Buying a street parking permit is far cheaper.

The developer noted that many buyers prefer indoor parking if they can afford it, while others are forgoing car ownership altogether.

Toronto city councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon said residents (home owners) can request that people living in the new condos be prohibited from buying a street-parking permit.

So the city councillor seems willing to entertain the idea that, at least as far as parking goes, condo owners are less entitled to city services than their better-off neighbours who live in houses.
http://bit.ly/1HNjLxE

Thoughts on protecting condominium owners
Here is an article on the proposed changes to the Condo Act by Tom Lepage a condo consultant.
My favourite quote in Tom's article:
"The number of condo lawyers participating was proportionally way out of whack when compared to other stakeholders (lawyers are generally not known for their simplification skills"
http://bit.ly/1Fzjf5C

Rental renaissance as appetite for condos wanes
Developers have also discovered that many renters are willing to pay a premium to live in a well-managed rental building, rather than renting a condo from an investor who could force them out when it comes time to sell.

Renting from an investor has other drawbacks, as well. It can be tricky to get a hold of the owner when repairs are needed, and many investors lack the knowledge required to be a good landlord.

"Condos are not the best setup for the landlord-and-tenant relationship," says Gavin Lottering, who has been living in his downtown Toronto condo for about two years and is looking to make the switch to a rental building.
http://bit.ly/1Kh4jyG

Don't buy a condo without parking
What ever you do, don't buy a condo thinking that you can sell your car, forgo parking and rely on the TTC. Toronto's subway system is too unreliable and the bus service, especially on Sundays, far too infrequent to be your sole means of getting to work on time.

The complete shutdown of the total subway system on Monday morning is just the latest fiasco by the TTC.

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Condo News
04 June 2015

Upcoming new pages
I will be interviewing the owners of a plumbing company and a general contracting firm on the demands they receive from managers and/or condo presidents in order to be allowed to bid on condo contracts.

Names won't be made public but owners will get an inside look on how it is done. If it all works out, I hope to get an investigative journalist interested.

Got any first hand stories? Please pass them on. Confidentiality guaranteed to protect the innocent from retaliation.
contact.condomadness@gmail.com


I strongly disagree with this statement. Condo by-law changes can be extremely important.
http://bit.ly/1BKG2tM

Condo board resolves to dine out on the owners’ funds, and it might be perfectly legal
If the owners pass a by-law approving it and the by-law is re-passed by the owners every three years, hells bells, they can wine and dine at the nicest steakhouses.
http://bit.ly/1EQNaEV

Here is an older case where an ex-director blew the whistle on her board and a superior court judge made the directors give the money back.
http://bit.ly/1EQNaEV

Larceny Property Management?

I think Larlyn Property Management may want to have the MLS system get this "Prop Mgmt:" name changed. It may make potential buyers pause.

Better late than never
Last week, the residents of the Riverview Place Condo in Mission were forced from their homes because of a fire. In 2013, the building's residents were forced out by the June floods.

Patty Bambrick has lived through both the floods and the fire. She says many of her neighbours are struggling.

"It's those in the building, including tenants, who don't have insurance — some of the owners didn't have insurance — those are the people that are really suffering some challenges right now," said Bambrick.

"We have owners that are smokers and we would have to look at some kind of grandfathering guideline for those people," she said. "But we are going to continue to discuss it and see if possibly we'll add a bylaw that tenants are not allowed to smoke."
http://bit.ly/1RLZsYA

CCP sends senior officials on prison tour as anti-corruption warning
What a great idea. Maybe this could be part of the new property management training program set up by the proposed Condominium Authority.

Our politicians may also be able to learn something from a program like this.
http://bit.ly/1KAA6bT

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Condo News
01 June 2015

Man charged after number of break-ins at apartment storage lockers in North York. Scarborough
A man faces 56 charges in a series of break-ins at apartment building storage lockers throughout the GTA, including Scarborough and North York.

Police allege a man stole items from the lockers over the past six months.
http://bit.ly/1LOHAZy

Revisiting the Condo Act
Matt Galloway talked to condo lawyer Chris Jaglowitz about the potential effect of the proposed changes to the Condo Act.

A Comment from a CBC listener:
It was unfortunate that two thirds of the conversation dealt with protecting condo owners from dishonest property managers, given that the number of those incidents are quite small. Plus there is already a way to protect owners from that unlikely event -- a fidelity bond. A board has a duty to protect the corporation, so if your corporation does not have a fidelity bond with adequate coverage -- ask your directors why.

Reading Bill 106
I have spent several hours reading the proposed changes to the Condo Act and I think that extremely few people will be able to understand what it means. It is a struggle to understand as the reader has to constantly bounce from one Section to another and flip from Bill 106 to the existing Act and back.

This will be a huge cash cow for the condo lawyers.

More fires in Alberta condos
I remember Irv Weinstein's Channel 7 EyeWitness News showing nightly fires in Buffalo. It was if the city was burning down on the installment plan.

Now Alberta condos are making the news far too often due to serious fires caused by thoughtless smokers. Lit cigarette butts are thrown off balconies and land on a balcony below, far too often.

Mission condo fire caused by discarded cigarette, says Calgary Fire Department
Residents will be out for several days after 4 units are destroyed.
http://bit.ly/1FR5UJC

Clareview condo fire started by cigarette discarded in diaper pail
The fire broke out on a balcony at the complex at 301 Clareview Station Drive West just before 5 p.m. on Friday. It left up to 200 people homeless.

The fire broke out on a balcony at the complex at 301 Clareview Station Drive West just before 5 p.m. on Friday. It left up to 200 people homeless.

The pair had just completed upgrading the suite two weeks ago, Mansour said.
The brothers will now be looking for a place to live for about a year and a half.
http://bit.ly/1JU7LiE

Thoughtless smoker causes Toronto fire
Mind-dead smokers aren't just a problem in Alberta.

This is part of a notice that was posted in a Bathurst street apartment building last week.

As I wrote on this website two years ago, the same low rise condo in Vaughan burnt down, not once but twice because of thoughtless smoking.
http://bit.ly/19SunBb

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Condo News
29 May 2015

Eagle audit on the proposed Condo Act
The true test of the new Condominium Act is how it will help protect condo owners against fraud and corruption.

News Release  May 27, 2015
TORONTO — Professional fraud examiners who work in the condominium industry say the new Ontario Condominium Act is an excellent step forward, but its high promise must be met with decisive implementation in order to stem the rising tide of fraud and corruption that victimizes thousands of condo owners each year.

“The dirty underside of the condominium industry—which includes financial misconduct by property managers as well as directors who sit on condo boards— is long overdue for a tough-cop remedy,” asserts William Stratas, Managing Director of Eagle Audit Advantage Inc., based in Toronto.

“The new licensing system for condo managers must address the root causes of frauds that victimize condo corporations and their owners,” stated Judy Sue, CFE CPA CGA, a Certified Fraud Examiner and President of Eagle Audit Advantage Inc. She adds, “Strong enforcement measures and ethics oversight must be enabled, otherwise condo fraud will remain a pervasive problem and condo owners will risk being permanently relegated to second-class homeowner status.”

Mr. Stratas believes that Ministry officials deserve praise for a superbly managed 3-year consultation process in which diverse views were welcomed, including input from oppressed condo owners who have been victims of various types of abuse at the hands of rogue boards and management. “I expect the new Ontario Condo Office will establish a reliable mechanism for affected owners and boards to seek remedy,” Mr. Stratas explains, “The small annual administrative fee soon charged to condo owners for the new Condo Office will return significant conflict-resolution benefits and education benefits for all condominium owners in Ontario.”

The alarming scope of condominium fraud and financial corruption in Ontario was highlighted in May 2015 by the laying of criminal charges against an operator of a Burlington-based condo management company. Police allege that $4.1 million in fraud losses had victimized 13 condominium corporations and their owners since 2009—a circumstance highlighting the vulnerability of the condominium sector to financial misconduct by trusted insiders in property management companies.

Eagle Audit Advantage Inc. was founded in 2013 by two former condominium directors who have a record of recovering losses from alleged condo frauds. The unique consultancy is Canada’s first professional fraud examination office focused on prevention, detection and investigation of frauds in the condominium industry.
– 30 –
Contact: William Stratas, info@eagleaudit.ca / 416-599-1212

An interesting Realtor website
This site gives you an idea how many units sold and the price range that they went for for most condos in the GTA. Looking at the chart at the bottom of the page lets you know the prices for the last six years so you can get an idea if prices are going up or down.
http://www.gtacondo.com/

“Parking Elevator”: Innovative, Or Worst Idea Ever?
This can work IF you have a professional valet driver on site 24/7 to park and bring up all the cars. There is no way you can allow the residents, and their visitors, some who are bad drivers, some who will be drunk and some who will be stoned operate these things.

Oh, I almost forget to talk about the huge SUVs. Driving them into a parking elevator is real tricky for a professional. Really dumb idea to let residents do it.
http://bit.ly/1Rh5kZo

E-mails from readers
Midtowners battle the rise of the midrise
"These condo buyers will be ghastly unwashed..." almost had me choke on my breakfast donut at Tim Horton's.

We condo owners think we are doing well and you're telling us that there are people in Toronto who look down at us?
Edward—Toronto

There is always someone richer and someone thinner.—editor

The new Condo Act
Good!  I have two years to get out of my condo!

This new Condo Act is going to cost a fortune in licencing and in meddling.  No condo corporation is going to go bare-naked and unpaid to some tribunal or talk on the phone to some dweeb in a condo office.

Every single potential legal problem will siphoned through the finest condo lawyer that money can buy; fine, that's a lot less work for me and I wasn't getting paid anyway.

There is no chance we will deal directly with a condo office or tribunal, we'll get somebody else to do all that crap and the owners can pay for that, too.
Condo president—Toronto

I think that many condo corporations will have this attitude. However, once the dispute tribunal sets precedence—it will take time—then the boards and the owners will fall into line. They will have to.—editor

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Condo News
27 May 2015

How to read the new Condo Act
We can pick up the new Condo Act's highlights from the newspaper websites Wednesday evening but to know what is in the Act, we need to carefully read the actual legislation.

Here is some helpful information from Sara Cleland, Randy Pettapiece's Legislative Assistant.

All bills from the current legislative session are posted at: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_current.do?locale=en.
 
The new Condo Act should be available at the above website on Thursday morning.

Midtowners battle the rise of the midrise
The Density Creep Neighborhood Alliance formed in response to a proposed townhouse development on Keewatin Ave. near Mt. Pleasant Rd., north of Eglinton Ave. E.

The group of about 50 neighbours claims the project — a four-storey, 80-unit building that will replace eight properties from 200-214 Keewatin Ave. — will ruin their stretch of million-dollar homes set on deep, private lots.

“Right now all the houses are $1.1 to, say, $2.2 (million) but they’re looking at putting in places that are only $500,000.”

Only $500,000? Oh dear, these condo buyers will be ghastly unwashed who ride bicycles, eat at McDonald's, drink tap water, shop at the Dollar Store and wear blue jeans.—editor.
http://on.thestar.com/1epMCk8
http://bit.ly/1Rkw7nN

Make way for Mid-Rise
This report is an initiative of the GTA Housing Action Lab, a cross-sector collaboration working to deliver scalable solutions to the issues of housing affordability and sustainability.

This report is well worth reading. It deals with the parking, transit and retail issues that need to be fully understood by retailers, residents and city politicians.
http://bit.ly/1R7taHa

#donthaveamillion rally draws hundreds to downtown Vancouver
A crowd of hundreds gathered in downtown Vancouver Sunday afternoon, calling on all levels of government to address increasing housing unaffordability in Vancouver.
http://bit.ly/1HFTINV

Rifts within homeowner associations proliferate
This article from Iowa shows what can happen when an investment company, or the original developer for that matter, owns a number of units and can gain control on a condo board of directors.

I wonder how all of these multiple use condos, where residential units, commercial and retail units are combined either within the same condo corporation or bound together by a shared facilities corporation.
http://dmreg.co/1Iiw8nc

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Condo News
25 May 2015

Here is an e-mail I just received from Randy Pettapiece's office. He is the PC critic for condo issues. Nice to see that almost everyone is being kept in the dark.

Good afternoon,

Thank you for your email to Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece.

We have also heard that the government has plans to table a new Condo Act on Wednesday. As per standard protocol, we expect that it will be tabled for first reading, which means that the minister may read a brief statement. There will be no debate until the government brings it forward for second reading.

Unfortunately, we have no further details other than what you already know; the government does not generally provide us with advance details on its plans.

Thank you.

Sara Cleland
Legislative Assistant
Randy Pettapiece, MPP
Perth-Wellington
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Condo News
25 May 2015

Who is Integrated Condo Mgmt & why is everyone saying bad things about him?
I updated my page on this latest condo scandal.
http://bit.ly/1FFh0mV

Even small water leak can be big drain on cash
A hole the size of a poppy seed can leak 170 gallons in 24 hours, costing $2.59 per day and $310.70 in 120 days. A hole about three times as large wastes 970 gallons daily, costing $14.83 per day and $1,779.49 in 120 days.

A leaking toilet (for example where the flapper valve sticks in the open position) may consume several thousands of dollars of water in a 120-day billing period.
http://on.thestar.com/1FzGrTK

Condo prices
After waiting for the condo market for new developments to collapse for the last three years. I have given up. My ability to judge the future is no better than everybody else.

New condo developments are continuing to be built and buyers are filling them perhaps not as fast, or as full, as many developers would have you believe.

The re-sale market is also holding up well with rising prices for most condo corporations. I've seen prices at a few older condos that were in decline but are now improving with better directors and management, who are improving the property and enforcing the rules, increase in value by 50-60% over the last three years.

Yet some condos have seen no rise in prices over the last several years. Prices have stagnated. They are the ones with serious financial, political and maintenance issues.

New, expanded TTC bus routes to provide ‘reliable’ overnight, weekend service
Those changes would largely restore the 2011 service cuts to 41 routes under the Rob Ford administration — something Tory promised to rectify in his state of the city address back in November.

The improvements also include seven new overnight Blue Night routes in Scarborough, North York, downtown and Etobicoke while extending or changing 11 others — what Tory said was recognition of the changing work lives of many Torontonians.
http://on.thestar.com/1SyaLER

New Condo Act
The new Act will be introduced at Queens Park on Wednesday. It will include licencing of property managers and a new condo dispute agency. Both will be welcomed by many condo owners.

However, be aware of three things. One, we have to read the Act throughly to see if condo owners will lose any existing protections.

The Act will be filled out by regulations that will be introduced later and it is hard to tell how well that will work out.

It seems certain that the new disputes resolution system will need money so it appears that all condo units in the province will be paying for this with a fee (tax) added to every unit's monthly common element expenses. I expect many short-sighted condo owners will be screaming about that.

I will not be one of them. A small fee to help condo owners understand their rights and responsibilities, provide a quick and cheap disputes mechanism and help owners and condo corporations stay out of the court system is well worth the price of a case of beer a year.

Finally, the new Act most likely will take two years to be proclaimed so we will be living with what we presently have until then.

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Condo News
 22 May 2015

The new Condo Act
The new Condo Act will be introduced in Queens Park on Wednesday afternoon. The ministry has invited the media and the industry special interests Wednesday morning for a briefing on the new legislation.

Condo fraud in Burlington
The owner/operator of Integrated Condominium Management, a property management firm, has been criminally charged with defrauding 13 Hamilton and Burlington condominium corporations of $4.1 million.
http://bit.ly/1FFh0mV
http://bit.ly/1eiSE6d

Property management is a competitive industry
Property management companies charge somewhere in the range of $20-24 a month per unit plus HST. Yet, some small outfits will submit bids far lower than that.

I heard recently of a mom and pop shop quoting $12.50 a unit per month plus HST. That was almost 50% cheaper than the winning bid.

Top-10 Mistruths Believed By New Realtors
How tough selling real estate really is.
http://bit.ly/1Gp9bAA

Service-dog flap at Aspen condo complex goes to court
“All of the research I have done on this issue shows that I cannot legally discriminate against a disabled person by denying her the rental because she has a service dog,” Arnal wrote to the board in an email, which is part of the complaint. “I am not willing to expose myself to a lawsuit because I illegally denied the rental to this tenant.”
http://bit.ly/1KjDfzG

James Sidney Parsons, Victoria Realtor, accused of conduct unbecoming
Realtor appealing a 5-year licence cancellation for helping mentally ill woman buy leaky condo.

The woman paid $180,000 for the condo, but was slapped with a remediation bill for $59,597.86 within months.
http://bit.ly/1LbnTu5

New York City poor porch
Politicians can get lower-income people into condos but they can't get the condos to fully accept them.
http://bit.ly/1FCqS0B

Florida lawyer talks about condo fraud
When there’s access to a large amount of money, and little risk of getting caught, because nobody cares about checking the numbers, perhaps the temptation to dip into the till runs high. There’s older examples of Board members who were described as “devoted” and “kind” and “sweet” stealing association funds and losing them in slot machines at the casino. Everyone let their guard down, turned their back and had too much trust in one person.

"nobody cares about checking the numbers"—Isn't that the treasurer's job? How about the two directors that sign the cheques? I, know, I know; that is just too complicated or too much work.—editor
http://bit.ly/1Fo0ioR

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Condo News
 20 May 2015

Condo building overrun with short-term rentals, one owner says
Simone Nichol says her condo building starting to feel like a hotel
But for now, a spokesperson for the city says those ads on their own are not enough evidence for the city to take action.

Several condo owners in a building in Montreal's Gay Village have been renting out their homes online.

A city inspector's report states there's not enough proof to intervene, saying "advertising on a website would only constitute an introductory element in court."

The online ads are enough proof for Nichol's insurance company. Nichol and the other residents will have to find another company with higher premiums.

Isn't is generous for the owner-residents to help subsidize their neighbours' hotel rental businesses. —editor
http://bit.ly/1dfW9u7

Condos.ca—Condo News
Here is a different Condo News. This one from a real estate website.
http://bit.ly/1cIJi2t

Outgoing chairman Chris Spiteri reflects on 10 years on the Tarion board
The article doesn't say much worthwhile but the reader's comments are informative. I especially like this one:

Christopher Arnold · Partner at Christopher Arnold, Barrister & Solicitor
Like Mr. Greenberg points out, the numbers are huge - and just for some perspective for those readers fortunate enough to avoid this hell when buying a new home, it is difficult to overstate how enraging it can be.

You contract with a buyer for house X and it is a given it should be built to a proper quality standard. You get house Y (ie. major deviations from expectations) and it is full of deficiencies.

So begins a journey of frustration: Builder points out part in contract where only warranty is Tarion warranty. So you start Tarion process and Tarion tells you deficiency 1 through 125 arent warranted, and deficiency 126-200 are within regular standards of crappyness. WTF?

Then begins a battle between you and Tarion and the builder (guess which side Tarion is on) that is lengthy expensive and very very very often completely fruitless.

Those crazy and energetic enough to really push the fight end up at the LAT, a twisted tribunal of non-experts who see the same Tarion lawyers daily and who rarely if ever side for the homebuyer.

“Tarion is essentially a fraud on the public.”

I've been a lawyer and seen the trail of tears for 20 years—and I can say in my experience Tarion is essentially a fraud on the public.

Only tip for new home buyers? Push your builder for a clause allowing phased inspections for you and your licenced home inspection DURING construction—because low quality or just plain wrong construction post-closing is very very difficult to get remedied.
http://bit.ly/1A6vdqF

The Ant and the Grasshopper
RDH, a west-coast engineering company describes two methods of dealing with major repairs and replacements.
http://bit.ly/1HlTLvo

HOA managers struggling to clear Colorado licensing exam
I doubt that all  condo managers in Ontario will be able to pass their exams once they face mandatory exams here.
http://dpo.st/1dbx3fS

Salem Property Manager Arraigned on Larceny and Conspiracy Charges
The investigation found that the owners of a Haverhill-based compnay allegedly systematically falsified invoices sent to dozens of clients.
http://bit.ly/1ESxtxt

—†—
Condo News
18 May 2015

We are in receipt of a copy of a letter dated 12 May 2015 sent to David Orazietti, Minister of Government and Consumer Services by the OHBA regarding a presentation that his staff made on 21 April 2015 to Ontario Home Builders' Association representatives concerning the proposed condominium legislation changes.

We, (admittedly a very small number of condo owners), are very concerned that the condo industry's special interests are getting a look at the new Condo Act while condo owners who have and are continuing to pay for everything and everyone in the industry, are being kept completely in the dark.

If the OHBA does not like the way the special interests were treated during the consultation period, condo owners were treated far worse.

More than ever, it is obvious that condo owners require comprehensive hearings on the new Condo Act at various locations throughout the province after the second hearing so the MPPs can hear all the horror stories that condo owners have gone through. The Act must balance the needs of ordinary condo owners against the special interest's desires.

The last thing we need is to see this Act rushed through Queens Park without proper consultation and deliberation by our elected MPPs.

A copy of this letter is attached.

—†—
Condo News
14 May 2015

Is this Toronto's most environmentally friendly condo?
Waste disposal bills for a building this size should cost approximately $1800 per month, according to Lynn. But with the collaborative recycling program, it costs only $180 per month for the entire building.
http://bit.ly/1AUzwjC

Ottawa condos' developer vows to remedy every 'deficiency,' as owners complain
A good lesson for anyone who is thinking of buying a pre-construction condo.
http://bit.ly/1dZtr0w

Home defects not only in Ottawa
"These homes are intended to last 40, 50 years. We see them falling apart between 3 and 10 years."

"No business likes the publicity of a lawsuit," says Jacksonville real estate and construction lawyer Barry Ansbacher. "[Arbitration] is kept private, so even if things are said that would be embarrassing to the companies, that arbitration clause makes sure it doesn't go beyond the room."

For homeowners, that means it can be difficult if not impossible to find reliable information about a builder. Says Ansbacher, "I don't believe there is any readily accessible place go on a website and say how many complaints [have been made] against a [builder]."

(A home is intended to last 40-50 years? That's all—editor)
http://fcnews.tv/1FcFHou

More baby boomers in Waterloo Region face bankruptcy
Another troubling news report about high debt woes.

About one-quarter of people who file for bankruptcy or consumer proposals do own their own home, but have essentially no equity in it, Hoyes said. "The typical person would be heavily mortgaged, like over 90 per cent, and they have other unsecured debt."
http://bit.ly/1cp5SNx

Miami Beach Condominium Reportedly Being Used As A Hotel
What wasn’t advertised on the internet rental ads—describing the apartment and property—were the two red warning flyers that are posted to the front door of Octagon Towers.

One was issued by the fire chief of Miami Beach who deemed that the operation of the building as a hotel as an “imminent life safety danger.”

The other posting cautions that power to the entire building will be shut off in 30 days if owners don’t cease and desist from leasing apartments to short-term renters.

Is this how we can shutdown short-term rentals in the GTA condos?
http://cbsloc.al/1JC2euw

At least it isn't a condo
Garbage flung from Kipling highrise creates ‘a landfill site, minus the seagulls’
City crew cleans up accumulation of trash behind 18-storey Kipling tower, some of it stuck high in trees, after landlord ignores order to do the job.
http://on.thestar.com/1IxBiz4

Lawsuit alleges property manager embezzled $228,000 from condo association
Glazer said one big mistake made by the condo board was giving Glansen the power to sign checks. Along with a former board president, Glansen signed each of the checks in question.

Hell, there are a few condos in Ontario where none of the directors sign the cheques.—editor
http://bit.ly/1A0I9Or

Ex-HOA treasurer in north Forsyth pleads guilty to theft
The former treasurer of a north Forsyth homeowners association will spend two to three months in custody after pleading guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from the neighborhood bank account.

Elizabeth Mills Wilson, 32, negotiated a plea for withdrawing about $40,000 over an 18-month span, according to Forsyth County Superior Court documents.
http://bit.ly/1QKnUcd

Local 10 investigates management company dubbed 'Condo crime family'
An update on an older condo fraud news story.
http://bit.ly/1dZyspS
—†—

Condo News
11 May 2015

Condo oppressed owner when it failed to address noise
 Michelle Kelly remarks: "This case should serve as a wake-up call to all directors: you cannot ignore (or react too slowly to) complaints made by owners, especially when your own expert agrees that there is a problem!

It should not matter if the complaint is noise, smoke, odour, or water penetration. Failing to address complaints in a timely fashion could result in a claim against the condominium for oppression, like in this case.

Even worse, it could mean a claim against the directors for failing to fulfill their duties under the Act, which could lead to the directors being personally responsible for some or all of the costs."
http://bit.ly/1IpkxWM

Changes ordered to controversial condo plan after CBC investigation
City says disputed development can go ahead, but with restrictions
Some local councillors were advocating for the development even after a staff report recommended against it.

City planners had warned that the towers in the original plan would be too tall, too close together and would be located too near a neighbouring rail corridor.

The report also noted that future residents on upper floors of the buildings could be exposed to "unacceptable levels of odour" from a nearby rubber recycling plant.

Read these two CBC reports to see the close ties between  city councillors and the developers.
http://bit.ly/1H8pqjN
http://bit.ly/1J3mCH6

Revisiting Regent Park
Blog by David Fleming. Regent Park is far from number-one on my list, but in the past year, I’ve started sending clients listings in the neighbourhood.
http://bit.ly/1c5mDgF

Ontario’s booming condo market a risk to Canada’s economy
Another gloom and doom story saying our condos are priced too high. An interesting article but I think that the reader's comments are far better.
http://bit.ly/1F5IiT2

Toronto police release images of man who broke into storage lockers at a Danforth and Warden condo
There is a lesson here. Don't leave valuables in your locker.
http://bit.ly/1crLrQP

Dog poop samples demanded by Burnaby apartment landlord
The latest battle between irresponsible dog owners & landlords. Residents received letters demanding they hand over poop samples or face eviction.
http://bit.ly/1F4OKtC

Not much positive here
When the selling agent can't say much positive, then you know that this unit that's "in reasonable shape" is in a distressed condo corporation.

Owners must stay on top of their corporation's finances and condo politics or down the road they may too get bushwhacked by dropping values.

Nesting goose complicating construction on Eaux Claires condo
'When the eggs are the coming, the eggs are coming and she just had them right on the deck'

Since laying her eggs, the goose has stopped chasing workers, he said.

"I was throwing bread crumbs, but it's been brought to my attention that's not very good for them," he said with a chuckle. "Healthy diet, healthy babies, I guess."

Blacklaws is  also thinking of building some sort of fence around the nest to keep the goslings safe once they hatch.
http://bit.ly/1Fei9kU

E-mails from readers
Hi there;
I have sold my condos and moved into a detached home but I still want to receive your newsletter as I find it very informative and in fact it helped me to make the decision to sell the condos sooner rather than later.
Thanks
reader—Mississauga

Good luck with your new home. No longer do you have to worry about special assessments, dumb rules and nasty political fighting in your home.
—editor
—†—

Condo News
06 May 2015

Exciting news from the Ministry
Many of us got an e-mail on Tuesday saying: "Since our last ONCONDO update, the Ministry has exciting news to report about the Condo Act Review."

What was the exciting news? There was no exciting news.

However I have heard from another source that the new Condo Act will be introduced before the summer recess. We'll see.

Police search for suspect who allegedly broke into downtown condo, flooded building
The police have released a photo.
http://bit.ly/1zyt7PI

Toronto Townhouses: How do They Stack Up?
Personally I hate them as I think they are like bats; not an animal and not a bird. However, if you are thinking of getting one, I would definitely buy a six-ten year old resale and not a pre-construction.
http://bit.ly/1EOTNwc

Making an offer on a resale
David Fleming shows one reason why Toronto real estate prices are so high.
http://bit.ly/1AzKBXp

Reserve Fund Studies
One system to help decide what gets fixed first.
http://bit.ly/1dGGSCh

Find a Breather near you
Want to rent a place for a half hour? There is an app for that. Who would have ever guessed.

1. Find and reserve Breather spaces
by using our mobile app. You can book rooms for 30 minutes, a few hours, or an entire day.
2. Unlock the door
Check in with a simple tap on your phone and you'll receive a personalized PIN code for your reservation. You will be charged for the length of your booking.
3. Make yourself at home
The space is yours for as long as you need it. Escape the daily grind or brainstorm with colleagues. Once you’re in, you can also extend your stay if you need to.

It doesn't specify condos but hey, why not?
http://breather.com/

Five Reasons To Re-Think CityPlace Condos
Condos.ca is re-visiting an old debate around CityPlace condos. More specifically, the community as a whole and whether or not the future looks bright south of the railway tracks between the Rogers Centre and Bathurst.
http://bit.ly/1KF1oy6

Quick tips for packing and moving home
Some nice tips from City Wide Maid.
http://bit.ly/1xqICYU


E-mails from readers
Condos: never an investment. Too many costs and little land. Mostly an obligation to maintain building.
Hilliard MacBeth ‏@hmacbe

I agree about condos being doubtful investments. Yet living in them can be satisfying if the owners, especially the investor-landlords, understand that there is a responsibility to maintain the building. Often they don't.
—editor
—†—

Condo News

04 May 2015

Condo rules driving you nuts?
Here is another Globe and Mail video with Audrey Loeb.
http://bit.ly/1EvpzNb

How To Buy A Freehold Property For $600,000
Want to escape from Condo living? David Fleming tells you how.
http://bit.ly/1F2SKe5

'Need bass': Desperate Surrey mom makes Craigslist plea for band to get back at noisy neighbours
Forget the bass. Hire a bag piper. Six hours of that will force anyone to surrender. Sounds like the condo board isn't doing their job.
http://bit.ly/1bnpnFn

Are Condos on the Way to Becoming Glorified Apartments?
I agree with Dan S. Barnabic's view on renters in condos but we have differences of opinions.

"Avoid such risks by making sure you check how many condo units are being rented out before you buy into any condo complex. You can do so by visiting the complex and talking to the occupants and owners of condos in the complex."
It is far easier to look at the number of renters stated on the status certificate. Another way is to use the computers at city hall to read the land register records. (It is free.) Neither way is completely accurate as no one really knows how many units are rented at any particular time in a large condo tower. —editor

"If 25 per cent or more of its units are rented, stay clear of such a complex. It very well may have a dark future."
Good advice I guess but it can be difficult to find a condo tower in the GTA that has so few renters. A ratio below 50% may be hard to find and even then that ratio can climb within a year or two after you purchase.—editor
http://huff.to/1EWXyl8

Toronto condo owner returns from NYC to find stranger in her bedroom
This is the best condo Airbnb story I have yet heard.
http://bit.ly/1c6424J

Pretty up the lobby or fix a leaky roof?
"After their nightmare experience with the dog situation, wanted to buy my unit so much so they made a second offer of $368,000. This time they left off the dog sitting requirement. They did, however, add in a requirement to have a building inspection done. They hired a qualified building inspector to do the inspection and he documented, in his report, that the building needed a new roof.

Upon learning this fact, I immediately contacted the property manager and board president. I wanted an idea of how much a new roof would cost as I was prepared to take my unit’s share of a new roof off the sale price to get the unit sold.

In spite of having a copy of the building inspection report clearly stating the building needed a new roof, I was unsuccessful in having that fact addressed by the board or management company.  The result was the collapse of Couple X’s second offer, again resulting in a second loss of approximately $60,000.00. I was in disbelief!

This perceived cover up of information by both the board and manager negatively impacted all other Owners as they were unaware that documentation existed to state the building needed a new roof. Instead, owners received a new lobby that cost approximately eighty to ninety thousand ($80-$90,000.00) dollars.

In time, my unit sold for $315,900 instead of $368,000 and that negatively affected the appraised value of all other units in the building."

This was one reason why Dr. June Donaldson started her website:
http://bit.ly/1bR0W3C

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Condo News

29 April 2015

The Ontario budget
The recent Ontario budget contained one paragraph mentioning the changes that are coming to the Condo Act. Property managers will be licenced, new directors will get training and there will be a dispute resolution service. No details were given.

What is concerning is Wynne's remarks on why there were no tax increases in this budget. "Premier Kathleen Wynne says her Liberals rejected imposing tax hikes in the budget because “struggling” Ontarians are still getting over the recession.

“People don’t feel like they’ve got a lot of extra money,” Wynne said Friday on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning. “Why not an across-the-board tax increase? That’s not something people feel they can sustain right now.”

So we will get service cuts and asset sales instead.

Many condo boards, who are facing operating deficits, are equally relucant to raise fees even though it is often irresponsible to cut services and condos have few, if any, assets that they can sell.

So rather than raise fees, windows don't get washed, parking garages don't get swept, swimming pools closed, security guards are replaced by more cameras and needed major repairs and replacements are postponed way out into the future. It makes the directors look like financial geniuses. Until the court-appointed administrator shows up.

Condo falling apart? Here’s what you’re covered for
Audrey Loeb talks about the warranty period for new condos.
The warranty on the common elements are useless if the board of directors fails to initiate a claim against the developer—for whatever reason—within the required two-year period.—editor
http://bit.ly/1D7ISbi

Can Dominoes Topple a Building?
David Albrice, a certified professional reserve analyst, and a specialist in building maintenance and planning lists the steps that create a major building failure.
http://m.rdh.com/1zMnisI

California Appellate Court Affirms Association’s Right to Impose Restrictions on Hardwood Flooring
The appellate court reaffirms the right of an Association to seek legal remedies when hardwood floor installations cause a nuisance to neighboring units and there has not been prior architectural approval.
http://bit.ly/1Ilz44y

Condo president admits wrongdoing in court
Local 10 News investigative reporter Bob Norman is in court as the president of a Florida condo association admits that he had broken the law.

The penalities seem awful light for what he did.
http://bit.ly/1PCs05B

—†—
Condo News
24 April 2015

A Realtor & a fortune teller


Here is how one real estate ad on MLS ends:
"Special Assessment $100 until June 2016. Then maintenance fee will be much lower."

Really? That is quite a forecast. If I was a potential purchaser I would have a few questions.

There will be no monthly fee increases in the next two years? Why was the special assessment required? If the fees will be much lower, then how are the broken staircases leading into the building going to be fixed? How about the water leaks in the party room? What about all the long white calcium stains that start under the balconies and run down the exterior brickwork?

Obviously most buyers don't question much. This unit sold.

How to deal with a condo board run amok
A Globe and Mail video with Audrey Loeb, a Toronto lawyer.
I usually advise owners to sell when the board, and/or the majority of the owners, refuses to spend money to repair the condo.—editor

http://bit.ly/1E2uEOf

A Condominium Declaration Can Prohibit Short-term Rentals to Unrelated Students
An excellent article by Rod Escayola for several reasons. First of all,  private single-family residential use means exactly that. The second point is how the president of the board was ignoring the declaration to protect his business interests. I've seen this before.

Finally, you can see the problems condo buyers can face if they buy a condo unit where the declaration says "whatever residential purposes the municipal by-laws allow.
http://bit.ly/1bmNJPS

Habitat Magazine
Habitat magazine is an independent publication with paid circulation targeting decision-makers at the 8000+ residential co-ops, condos, and homeowner associations in the New York City greater metropolitan area.

They bring information and human-interest stories to bring awareness, education and empowerment to board directors.

It is a very good read that I recommend to all condo owners as unlike most condo magazines, this one doesn't have just happy "feel-good" stories.
http://www.habitatmag.com/

Fort Lauderdale Beach condo residents hit with $60,000 assessment
Residents at the Embassy Tower 2 building on Fort Lauderdale Beach were outraged after finding out that they had to quickly come up with thousands of dollars.

This is the nightmare that all condo owners need to fear. Stay on top of your condo's finances and Reserve Fund Studies. If the board won't let you see them; sell fast or you may be the next condo to get the big surprise.
http://bit.ly/1G4Vv98

YCC # 340
Following the change in the board at the last AGM, this condo's website has been rebuilt. The monthly board meeting minutes and the previous president's opinions have been replaced with beautiful photos of their flower beds.
http://thequeenscourt.ca/

E-mails from readers
Thanks for not depriving us of this wonderful source of information and your wit. I really look forward to it
 Keep up the great work  on our behalf.
Cheers :)‎
S. K.

I am glad you enjoy Condo News.—editor

—†—
Condo News
20 April 2015

Design flaw likely cause of brick fall at Scarborough apartment building: Toronto Community Housing
This week, it said an “unintended” cavity behind the bricks and a “lack of weeping holes for proper drainage” likely resulted in water freezing and thawing there, leading over 50 years “to separation of the brick cladding from the block wall.”
http://bit.ly/1FZWgG2

New York City requires regular inspections of the exterior walls of all buildings that are more than six stories high.

Not a bad idea. Falling bricks is a hazard at some older condos in the GTA. There are a handful of condo towers where I suspect this will happen; sooner or later. One property manager is wondering why bricks haven't yet fallen off the condo she used to manage as the board is ignoring the problem to keep the fees low.
http://bit.ly/1OjGYuK

Residents hope to restore ‘lost sense of community’ with co-housing complex
Decisions in Prairie Spruce will be made by consensus. “Everybody has to agree to whatever decision it is. They have to be able to live with it and sometimes that takes a little bit longer,” said another member, Henning Mortensen.

I am not convinced this can work. Good luck—editor.
http://bit.ly/1yII9SB

Strata 101
Here is an interesting blog from a condo owner in BC. The author has been writing for years about condo (strata) issues.
https://strata101.wordpress.com/

Big difference in monthly fees
Two condo units recently sold in north Etobicoke. The selling prices were very close, the condo towers are thirty to forty years old, the units are close in size but the monthly fees are hundreds of dollars apart.
3 bedroom unit 1200 sq ft $102,000 $845.62
2 bedroom unit
1200 sq ft
$092,500
$450.04

What a difference! $400 a month!

Which was the better deal? The first one. The owners are paying high fees as that is what the condo corporation needs to maintain the property.

The second condo needs a lot of expensive repairs and the finances are gruesome. I suspect that they will get hit with special assessments and expensive loans sometime in the near future.

HOA shows heart to some homeowners, upsets others
This TV report states that the roofs were suppose to be replaced in 2007 and it's still not done.

The property management group sent an email to the TV station, stating, "The board of directors and the community recently passed a special assessment to replace the roofs. Once the majority of the owners pay the assessment and the association has enough cash on hand from that assessment, the roof work will be scheduled."

Lawyer Zac Moretz handles a lot of HOA cases. HOAs have a duty to collect money and make repairs, Moretz said. "Those who haven't paid are legally obligated to pay," he said.

If someone wants to sue, "There is nothing to prevent it other than the cost, which can run $25,000 to $50,000 if the litigation goes all the way to trial, extremely rare," Moretz said. "North Carolina courts are very favorable to homeowners and almost always construe any gray areas or doubts against the HOA and for the homeowner. So homeowners often prevail in litigation with their HOAs in North Carolina."
http://bit.ly/1POmX30

Shoddy work iced over with stucco leads to $40 million fight
This Palm Beach Florida lawsuit, which seeks $40 million in damages for a bevy of problems — leaking roofs, leaning light poles, poorly pitched porches — has picked up dozens of defendants since 2010 as sub-contractors were added like clues accumulated by a detective.

While mediation has settled some of the lesser disputes, owners hope to get a trial date this spring, and maybe a resolution to a drawn-out fight they see ending one of two ways: victory, or a special assessment so high it could force some owners into foreclosure.

Take a look at the photos that accompany this news story. Not pretty. Yet these owners know they are taking a big risk in court.—editor
http://pbpo.st/1EJeGsV

—†—

Condo News
16 April 2015

Townhall on levels of government
It seems like there are elections every year and a confusing number of elected officials with titles like MP, MPP. You can be forgiven for wondering as to exactly how government works in Canada. This event on next Monday April 20th is for you.

It is a fun workshop and by the end of it you will leave knowing how all the pieces fit together.

For the record, if you happen to live in Mississauga, there are 4 levels of government. By the way it’s not just for new Canadians, it’s for anyone who is looking for a practical explanation of how government works!.

MPP Dipika Damerla Townhall
Various Levels of Government
Cooksville United Church
2500 Mimosa Row
April 20, 2015
6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Please register for this event at Event Brite
http://www.eventbrite.ca/o/mpp-dipika-damerla-3603961363

Condo developer Freed slapped with $6.5-million lawsuit
King West condo owners allege Freed Developments did not keep its promise to hire award-winning designer Munge Leung.

"On a recent visit to the development, Crangle shook his head at the long, barren hallways with scuffed white walls and simple grey carpeting. The tile in the central courtyard is cracked, and he says the fountain had to be turned off because it was leaking into the underground parking garage."
http://on.thestar.com/1DIaGZ0

Glass falls from condo balcony at King and Spadina
Glass fell from the balcony of a condo building in downtown Toronto on Tuesday afternoon. The incident happened at 478 King St. W.

I heard that the falling glass problem had not gone away. It is just not being reported unless someone gets hurt. (editor)
http://bit.ly/1Hq1U3a

Florida HOA and Condo Blog
Every condo owner in Florida pays $4.00 per year to The Department of Business and Professional Regulation. These funds go into a "Trust Fund" and are supposed to be spent on you. It's not quite working out that way however.
http://bit.ly/1DXjgoI

Neighbor’s rude note over handicapped parking spot goes viral
“I finally get my handicapped parking spot last Thursday (March 12, 2015) and then I come home on Saturday and they’re parking in my parking spot,” she explained.
http://bit.ly/1OgqyDk

E-mails from readers
F**k investors, the parasites of Ontario condos.
Landlords in our building have lowered their rents by $200 a month.

It is worse than what the article says because landlords are turning unrentable units into rooming houses. It is easy to do and we have to hire extra security guards.

Our owners are absolutely clueless about this problem and the costs to them.
This is no longer a single-family residential condo.

Hellish parties of dirty drunk people now, thanks to landlords putting themselves first and crying about the glut of available rentals.
Property Manager—Toronto

I am being told that the owners in the downtown condos are having trouble recovering their costs. If the unit sits empty or the tenant stops paying the rent, it's even worse. To attract a tenant, it's common now for landlords to offer the first month's rent-free.
—editor

Thank you
Thanks for the very informative emails I really find them very useful.
F. E—Toronto

You are very welcome. I am glad you find them useful.
—editor
—†—
Condo News
13 April 2015

The vacant truth about rental condos
Finally someone has looked hard at the huge supply of empty condo units for rent in the newer condo developments.

I was talking to a person who works at a 500 unit downtown condo building. He told me that whenever an owner drops off a notice of a rent increase, the renter moves, sometimes a half a block way, sometimes to a unit in the same building.

When I asked a renter about this he said that there are lots of empty condos for rent so when he was hit with a notice of a rent increase, he moved.

An owner at a different building, a 600 unit condo down in CityPlace told me that he can't raise the rent as he is afraid that his tenant will move.
http://bit.ly/1I0tDFJ

River North condo owner sues over having to share elevator with dogs
A woman diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome because a dog once attacked her is suing her condominium association, saying she was forced to share elevator rides with dogs and their hostile owners.

Holly Geraci, wife of Chicago bankruptcy lawyer Peter Frances Geraci, says dog owners and walkers at Union Square Condominiums have physically and verbally assaulted her.

The condo association, she says, has labeled her a “troublemaker” and posted fliers about her in the building.

The Geracis have sued their association before, over a defective parapet wall that resulted in the rooftop deck being closed to residents.
http://bit.ly/1yiP6tO

Never rent a condo to relatives
My son and his wife lived in a condo that I own. Last year, they had marital issues and he moved out. She stayed, refused to pay me anything, did not pay the association fees and trashed the place.
http://bit.ly/1CCgqi1

Four seasons condo sold
The price a cool $2,350,000 for a 2+1 bedroom unit. The fees, $2,201.15 a month, approximately $1.20 a square foot

Condos and Houses Are Like Apples and Oranges
The major distinction here is that the individual unit owner isn't the absolute master of the condo property. Sharing a common roof and the rest of the condo complex with the other unit owners makes them an intrinsic part of the joint ownership commune. Therefore, the value and destiny of any condo unit depends on all owners electing competent leaders (HOA board members) to govern their condo complex diligently, and on their prompt payments of realty tax, monthly maintenance fee and special assessment, as they become due.
http://huff.to/1CAbrOH

—†—
Condo News
10 April 2015

A Faster, More Convenient Way to File in Small Claims Court
Ontario Launches E-filing Service for Fixed Claims $25,000 and Under
http://bit.ly/1HRtrZr

How to file:
http://bit.ly/1A8omc7

Special Assessments
On Wednesday 08 April 2015, I attended a General Meeting of the Yonge Corridor Condominium Association.

The main speaker was Robert Buckler who gave a presentation on Special Assessments and how to avoid them.

Robert explained the importance of:
• Good governance
• Budget preparation
• How to avoid special assessments
• Owners’ role

At the June meeting of the YCCA, there will be a presentation by CCI on the education offerings they have for new directors.

News from councillor Maria Augimeri's newsletter
April 30 - Borrow Tools to Build!
Toronto Public Library has agreed to open a brand new Tool Library at the Downsview Public Library in our community. For the first time, Downsview residents and Torontonians can now borrow books and tools under the same roof! For a cost of $50 per year, a wide range of hand, power and gardening tools will be available for home renovations, repairs and projects. Anyone who has a Toronto Public Library card will get $5 off his or her annual membership.

If you have tools you would like to donate, please come April 30, opening day of the Tool Library.
More info here including if you would like to make a monetary donation.
http://torontotoollibrary.com/libraries-unite/

This Saturday - Seedy Saturday @ the Downsview Library
Learn how to save seeds in the city with the Toronto Seed Library. In this all-ages information session, we'll 'bee' reviewing the basics of seed libraries and seed saving plus have free seeds on hand for everyone. There will also be a Children's Planting Workshop, so bring the whole family! Feel free to bring any questions you may have.
This Saturday April 11
1:00 - 3:00 PM

Information meeting
This is an informantion meeting on Bill 73 that will limit the OMB's powers and allow municipalities to increase development fees on new condo developments.

It should be well worth the time to attend.



—†—
Condo News
09 April 2015

John Oliver: Infrastructure
Mr. Oliver is talking about roads, power dams, sewers and bridges falling apart in the United States because no one wants to pay higher taxes to keep them in good repair.

Watch this video and then tell me what is the difference betweeen paying higher taxes to fix government infrastructure and paying higher fees to fix a condo's boilers and underground parking garage.
http://bit.ly/1wKA2ie

Victoria woman inherited a condo and thousands in fees
Craig is being charged about $1,500 a month for meals, cleaning and other services she doesn’t receive at an apartment she doesn’t live in. She has refused to pay since May 2013 — she still pays the strata fees and property taxes — and said she is unable to sell the condo because of the attached service fees.

The Camelot strata corporation is taking Craig and another owner to court to enforce an amended bylaw that makes support service fees mandatory as a flat-fee part of the strata fees.

These retirement condos may not be such a hot "investment" after all.
http://bit.ly/19YMXYt

Buying a home? Buy new!
Bryan Tuckey is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association tells Toronto Star readers why they should buy a new home.
http://ow.ly/Lf5w7

Buying a condo? Buy re-sale!
CondoMadness believes that you should never buy a pre-construction condo. Be smart. Wait until the building is 5-6 years old.
http://bit.ly/1FdqCUT

The whopper

The biggest whopper isn't found at a burger joint. It is when the developers and real estate agents tell prospective buyers that when they purchase a condo, they pay one cheque a month to a professional management company so they can live a worry-free life-style.
http://bit.ly/1CtNVCw

What is new in HOA Land
This is a column from Beth A. Grimm, a California HOA and condominium lawyer. This month she talks about the importance of trust between the board and the owners.
http://bit.ly/1CuVIAc

—†—
Condo News
06 April 2015

“What If The Whole World Worked The Same As The Toronto Real Estate Industry?”
"When it comes to pre-construction condos, I feel as though most of the public has caught on by now, and yet there are still some folks out there that just don’t see how unbelievably crooked and backwards this industry has become."
http://bit.ly/1DpVPnL

Insurers increasingly turning away from the condo sector
Yet cases of shoddy construction in Canada’s largest city, Toronto, have led to lawsuits and high repair costs for problems such as water leaks, with premiums and insurance deductibles expected to grow further.

Water, the number one cause of damage, has already led to deductibles as high as $100,000 for certain condo corporations in Vancouver.

“We need to improve quality of construction and ensure repairs and preventive maintenance are rigorously done by the condo corporation,” Pierre Babinsky, a spokesman for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said in an e-mail.

(The older condos may have inadequate reserves and have been ignoring major repairs while too many new ones leak.—editor)
http://bit.ly/1xEq2g5

Dining out in Toronto’s condo canyons
When you live in a 500 square-foot space, your building’s restaurant — if there is one — becomes your dining room.

A couple of good points on why there are so few independent restaurants and so many franchises under condos. The independents are more likely to skip out without paying the rent.
http://on.thestar.com/1DvIw56

City of Toronto consulting with Toronto residents on rooming houses
The City of Toronto is presenting a series of consultation sessions on a Rooming House Review initiative addressing issues related to the conditions and regulation of rooming houses in Toronto. The review is led by the Municipal Licensing & Standards and City Planning divisions in partnership with other City divisions.

The consultation component of the review begins April 9. The goal of the consultation process is to uncover diverse perspectives on rooming houses and begin a constructive conversation about possible solutions for all stakeholders.

The Rooming House Review will identify:
• the issues affecting regulation and enforcement of standards in rooming
   houses
• opportunities to improve conditions in rooming houses, and
• ways to minimize the impact rooming houses have on surrounding
   communities.

The following stakeholder groups will be engaged in the process:
• tenants and landlords of rooming houses
• residents and resident groups in communities with rooming houses
agencies that serve clients looking for affordable housing such as
  rooming houses, and
post-secondary school administrators.

Members of the public are invited to engage in the consultation process by attending one of the neighbourhood consultations.

More information is available at http://www.toronto.ca/roominghousereview. A survey will be made available on that web page in the days ahead.

At the present rooming houses are illegal in many parts of Toronto and there are proposals to allow legal rooming houses throughout the city. Condo owners should participate in these meetings and raise concerns about existing illegal rooming houses in condo apartments, townhouses and stacked townhouses.
—editor

E-mails from readers
Re—editorial on condo insurance
For instance, CAA does not insure residential condos that have businesses in their lower floors!
A.M.—Toronto

Insurance is a big problem. Some boards will not inform the insurance company of water leaks and they push the cost onto the owners through the Reserve funds.
—editor

—†—
Condo News
02 April 2015

MPP Dipika Damerla hosted a Condo Mediation Workshop
Yesterday, 01 April 2015 Dipika Damerla hosted a Condo Mediation Workshop.  Marc Bhalla (mediator) and Richard Elia (lawyer) lead the workshop, answered questions on condo disputes and provide effective conflict management tools to the 50+ condo owners in attendance.

It would be nice if other MPPs followed Dipika's lead in providing workshops and education materials for the benefit of the condo residents in their ridings.

Canadian home prices to fall 40-50 per cent, financial author says
Financial adviser and author Hilliard MacBeth believes Canadian home prices sit on the precipice of their biggest crash ever.
http://bit.ly/1FAotS3

When Hoarding Becomes A Hazard For The Other Residents
This case involving a housing co-operative provides a good (but sad) example of the difficulties faced by a corporation (be it condominium or co-operative) when faced with a hoarder.
http://bit.ly/1Ezj1jo

Gated community's residents mixed on radar gun use
This storyfrom Florida is about a security guard using a radar gun to enforce a 10 mile an hour speed limit. What caught my eye is when a resident objected.

"I took it upon myself to start a petition for those residents here because I had a feeling that I wasn't the only one." Hedenstrom (the property manager) says there are rules against solicitation and that's why the sheriff's office was called.

Petitioning your neighbours on HOA or condominium business is being engaged in the democratic process, not solicitation.
http://bit.ly/1ImBiOB

No charges in HOA dispute
Expect no criminal charges in the case of an Ocala property management firm being investigated by the state over allegations it spent homeowners’ association money in violation of state law and improperly conducted association meetings.

This is a very long in-depth article. The managers did get minor penalties. Just shows that white collar crime pays.
http://bit.ly/1GIAp4K

E-mails from readers
Coral Point Fort Lauderdale condo nazi problem
I thought this was a piece for April Fools day. http://wethepeopleofcoralpoint.blogspot.ca/?m=1

Calvin—Agincourt

No, the website is real. It is a very small condo so the majority of owners should be able to get the board that they wish.
—editor

Condo news by e-mail
There is no link. I'll open the site. I cannot have coffee without the latest Condo News.​
Mary—North York

Sorry. I forgot to add the link to the e-mail announcement.
—editor
—†—
Condo News
30 March 2015

Check Your Toronto Condo for Kitec Plumbing
If your Toronto condo was built or renovated between 1995 and 2007, chances are Kitec Plumbing was used and that’s a problem.

For Toronto condos and homes that use Kitec plumbing and fittings, there’s a high probability of failure which could result not just in a minor leak but a full-on flood due to bursting pipes.

If you’re currently looking at various condos for sale in Toronto, know that the seller does not have to legally disclose the use of Kitec Plumbing to you. If there’s any question of its use, get a home inspection done before firming up your offer.
http://bit.ly/1NrPuYm

It Is A Really Big Challenge To Find Sound Investment Opportunities These Days
More great advice from Charles Hanes.

"I’ve bought and sold lots of condos based primarily on my disappointment with the end product! I’ve got clients listing brand new properties that they envisioned as their permanent home for sale because of  that ever present gorilla in the room . . .  sound attenuation problems, not to mention being suffocated with cigarette smoke from residents on their walls and/or balconies.
http://bit.ly/1BIyYO0

Victims of ‘Ninja Robbers’ suing HOA
Richard DeBoest is a partner at Goede, Adamczyk & DeBoest. He is not involved in the recent lawsuit, but represents several homeowner’s associations and recommends his clients to stay out of the security business.

“We tell them call it access control,” said DeBoest.  “Don’t say we’re providing security because then if the security fails, they’re gonna say ‘well, you told us you were providing security.'”

DeBoest tells WINK News, the primary purpose of a homeowners association is to enforce the rules for landscaping, leasing, pets and parking. Basically, anything that could help keep property values up.
http://bit.ly/1FRsYsL

City of Toronto survey
This survey is o find out what citizens think about Toronto's offical plan for multi-use mid-size condos on the city's main avenues.

The idea is to replace strip malls with mid-size condos. I am not a big fan of this concept. I see it as part of the un-winnable war against the car.
https://cityoftoronto.fluidsurveys.com/s/midrise

Two bricklayers killed in 7-storey fall at Bloor-Keele condo project
Men fell after elevated scaffolding structure broke in half; one died at the scene, the other at hospital.
http://on.thestar.com/1BATH6k

Condo costs are killers
Situation: Arizona condo loses a small fortune every year for single woman planning retirement
http://bit.ly/1Edr3Ot

E-mails from readers
Hi Condo Madness,

We wanted to thank you for your website and info provided. We have especially enjoyed your Condo Nazis definition page located at http://www.condomadness.info/condo_nazis.html

We have quoted it on our own page which you can find here:
http://wethepeopleofcoralpoint.blogspot.com/p/what-is-condo-nazi.html

Of course we have included a link to your page, actually in two places, that page mentioned above and our Links page.

We invite you to check out our blog if you wish to read about a horrific case of condo fascism. We welcome your comments on our blog if you wish.

Thanks in advance,
WethePeopleofCoralPoint.blogspot.com

I am sorry to heat that the new president is adding more rules to your condo that the owners, or at lest some of them, find oppressive.

The best response is to gain the support of the owners and vote the present majority of directors off the board.

I am working on a chapter about Florida condos. It still is just a work-in-progress.
—editor
http://bit.ly/1OEqalj

—†—
Condo News
26 March 2015

Condo Advisor
New website from a law firm specializing in condo law.
http://condoadviser.ca/

Condo owner outraged after managers fail to inform him of break-ins

CTV Calgary Staff
19 March 2015

A Calgary man who has been living overseas is furious with the actions of a local condominium building management company after his storage locker was targeted by thieves on two separate occasions.

In November, while Cowling was out of the country, thieves gained access to locker and stole a number of his possessions and items belonging to his mother. Simco Management did not inform Cowling of the break-in and failed to replace the lock on the locker. The very next month, the locker was pillaged for a second time.

B.C. service-animal owners to require licence as family pets increasingly passed off as guide dogs
It is the emotional support pets that are a growing concern for condos, not guide dogs.
http://bit.ly/1GcAZHC

Feds sue Minnetonka condo over its ban on playing in grass
A large Minnetonka condominium complex’s ban on playing in the grass has drawn a lawsuit from federal officials contending that the policy illegally discriminates against families with children.

The condo lost, The owners, and their kids, won.
http://strib.mn/19MVzC9

California homeowners face HOA fines for children playing on driveway, sidewalk
There are no wheeled toys -- including, but not limited to, bicycles, scooters, rollerblades, skateboards or roller skates -- allowed to be ridden in the HOA's common areas. Common areas include driveways, sidewalks and streets in the complex.

According to the property manager, it's for safety reasons, but resident Karen Deviolini said, "You're fined because you live in a place where kids can't be kids."
http://bit.ly/1OyWGoG

Board of directors hire character assassin
An Arizonia homeowners group called Save Our Lakes will be facing a hired political character assassin that their board hired to discredit them. What's more, their monthly fees will help pay for this.
http://bit.ly/1FWBEdO
http://savethelakes.weebly.com/

E-mails from readers
If you thought a parking spot at your condo for a car was expensive, try parking a yacht.
http://cnnmon.ie/1ClDTIt
C.T.—Agincourt

Another way to use condominium ownership to make money. Other developers use the same concept for parking garages near airports.
—editor
—†—
Condo News
24 March 2015

Can Condos Ever House Families?
I found this to be a very strange news article. Adam Vaughan wants families to move into downtown condo towers. That much is clear.

The rest of his message can use a bit of explaining. Why does he think that downtown three-bedroom units can be used as rooming houses until the prices drop so families can then afford them? Why does he think prices will drop and when does he think this will happen?

Why does he say condos have to have a longer life cycle? That sentence really caught my eye.

Doesn't it make more sense for families to live in condos up in North York, Etobicoke, Don Mills and Scarborough where there are existing large affordable three-bedroom condos in areas that have better facilities, schools, parks and social services?

I think so.
http://bit.ly/1BEwiiZ

Retirement home fees of $1K per month continue after seniors die or move out
This CBC News report makes the management company seem to be bad guys. That is unfair. If you own a condo and move out or die, your monthly common expenses must be paid by your or your estate until the unit is sold.
http://bit.ly/1N1AstY
http://bit.ly/1ECIB1m

Election cheating—3rd world levels
There was a story in last Friday's newspapers about relatives helping Indian school children cheat while writing their grade 10 exams.

We have little right to look too aghast. Election cheating in many Ontario condos matches third-world levels.

People climb the wall of a building to help students in an exam in Hajipur, in the Indian state of Bihar. Photo: AP

No one knows how common condo election fraud is. Aside from myself, I don't know many people who, aside from their own condos, are interested in looking into it.

Yet I know it is a very serious problem. A few owners at a large condo in the west end of Toronto are so concerned about the long history of election fraud at their condo, they have formed a committee (Committee Of Concerned Owners) that is holding meetings with their fellow owners to inform them on how they can reduce proxy fraud.

Last month, that condo had their AGM. There were two positions on the board that were up for election. One director and a candidate hired a lawyer to assist them with the counting of proxies. By the time it was over, their legal fees came to $20,000.

There were allegations of a second name being added to the proxy forms, without the knowledge of the owners, after the owners had given a candidate their proxy.

Last year, the proxy form that was included with the AGM package was so badly rigged to favour the three incumbents, that CondoMadness helped an owner have the AGM postponed a month so a proper proxy form could be included in a new AGM package.

An ex-director at that condo told a few owners that they never had an honest election. At a previous AGM, the scrutineers thought that the woman who came in second would make a better director than the winner so they declared that she had the most votes.

It would be nice if the new Condo Act will address some of these concerns but I am not hopeful. The ministry mandarins listened too much to the condo industry special interests and not enough to the owners.

Love the name of the management company—so fitting
The family of an Atlanta woman recovering from multiple surgeries including a tracheotomy, is outraged a property management has cut off her water for unpaid fines, including parking violations accessed against nurses who came to provide care.

"I have never seen anything like this before. They shut her water off for frivolous fines. For parking, for a dog violation," said daughter Tammy Kadar.

The Stockbridge property management company is called Grace Management.
http://bit.ly/1BQDBHZ

Can't run if you disagree with us
A by-law amendment to a Virginia home association bylaws that dissident home owners said would make it impossible for anyone who disagreed with the board to ever be elected, was defeated at a special meeting.

Well, this would have been a fool-proof way of winning elections wouldn't it?
http://bit.ly/1bfUrHy

—†—
Condo News
19 March 2015

“Sorry, But I Usually Shower Alone…”
An amusing story from David Fleming about an incompetent concierge who is suppose to be a "trade escort" letting duct cleaners into an apartment and then staying in the hallway.

Not getting an apology from the property manager is inexcusable. I suggest he send a letter to the president of the property management company.
http://bit.ly/18SgRNq

Power of sale
I am disappointed to see that a nice unit at a nearby condo has an asking price 32% lower than when it was new—only nine years ago. It is on a Power of sale. Every couple of months, the price is lowered.

A Power of Sale hurts everyone in the condo as two identical units, that are listed at higher prices, won't sell until this one is bought.

Park Plaza condo in Vancouver without hot water for 3 weeks
Half of 23-storey building without hot water after boiler broke down.

Some residents have had more than enough, such as Melissa Lazeo who has had to boil water for washing her dishes and bathing. "Fire the company, fire the plumbers and get this fixed now. We don't have time," she said.

A couple of points here. It is a 20 year old building so I would want to know if the board had paid for Reserve Fund Studies (BC uses a different term) and if so, what does the last two say about the boilers. If the board has not paid to have engineering studies done, they they are partially to blame.

Final point.
Fire the plumbers? Replace the directors or the manager maybe but why the plumbers?

The residents have electricity and an unlimited supply of cold water. A lack of hot water is not the end of the world. They can take showers in the amenities. Buy a couple of extra kettles and make do. Have they never gone camping? Never been in the boy scouts or girl guides?
Never visited a 3rd world country?

—editor
http://bit.ly/1CwDOU9

Election amendment shot down by homeowners
In Virginia, an amendment to the Kingsmill Community Service Association bylaws that dissident home owners said would make it impossible for anyone who disagreed with the board to ever be elected, was defeated soundly at a special meeting.

The developer, still controls the majority of the seats on the board. The board delayed the new election of board members, which has been scheduled for September, again.

It would have been a neat trick if the developer's board managed to pull it off.
—editor
http://bit.ly/1bfUrHy

E-mails from readers
I came across the magazine "Humber Happenings" so I sent it to you. Notice Peter Milczyn's article on the new Condo Act.
http://bit.ly/1GdkUz2

This is a very nice quarterly magazine put out by the Humber Bay Shores Condominium Association. I read in this full-colour magazine that the association has 18 directors and three co-ordinators. Impressive. The large number of advertisements shows the support they have from the local condo developers, local businesses and their local MPP.
—editor
—†—
Condo News
16 March 2015

Marina Del Rey Condo Phase 1 Nightmare
Some Condo Owners, former and current Directors of the Condo Board, a Real Estate Agent, and a Real Estate Lawyer / fellow condo owner don't want you to read my blog. They want it shut down.
http://bit.ly/1xmFRm4

Rental space rates set to jump during Pan Am Games
Homeowners hoping to make some extra cash during the Pan Am Games are meeting resistance from the hospitality industry and, in some cases, their own condo boards, who take a dim view of online accommodation services like Airbnb.

The price for a rented room or condo in the Toronto area on Airbnb appears set to double or triple when the games start in July. But most condo boards have a bylaw against renting out.
http://bit.ly/1Gaqtyo

Can the board stop you renting your condo on Airbnb?
Depends on your declaration. Read what Condomadness has on short-term rentals here near the bottom at "Different wording".

Some of the newer condos allow for short-term rentals.
http://www.condomadness.info/supermarket-comeback.html

A property manager writes on 30% fee cuts
Another voice weighs in on The Toy Factory fee cutting.
http://linkd.in/1FdJWzr

Effective disaster management for condos
Recover residential properties faster following emergencies by taking four basic steps. another great article by Condobusiness.
http://bit.ly/1ChhMUj

How Chinese builders constructed a 59-storey tower in 19 days
This builder is erecting taller and taller pre-fabricated buildings in astonishing short times.

Can we get this Chinese company to build our subways?
http://read.bi/1xbSn86

E-mails from readers
I found it interesting that the original condos in Etobicoke were not built any beter than the new ones that are being built now.
owner—Etobicoke

—†—
Condo News
13 March 2015

Class action suit
You get $20.00 if you qualify. Most likely you do.
http://on.thestar.com/1KZxmJi

Association of Etobicoke Condominium Corporations
In 1996, the Association of Etobicoke Condominium Corporations, formed in 1974, asked their member condo corporations to submit a list of problems to them so the Association could submit the collected findings to the Ontario Residential Condominium Study Group.

Eleven condo towers and five townhouse corporations sent replies that were collected and sent to the Study Group in May 1967.

I have just received a copy of these submissions.

The first condominium in Toronto, YCC #1 submitted a report on their construction deficiencies as did YCC #80 and fourteen others in between.

I was surprised and disappointed to read that most had similar problems. They included:
• leaking roofs.
• leaking and damaged underground parking garages.
• leaking and burst water pipes.
• leaking building envelopes.
• poor quality caulking.
• electrical problems including poor quality switches, outlets and fuse boxes.
• poor heating systems
• inadequate sound proofing
• poorly build roadways.
• poor drainage.
• poor workmanship.

One builder left his garbage including bricks up on top of the roof. Another building had no straight walls and uneven floors. Roadways would collapse when the garbage trucks came on the site.

It is obvious that a lot of work went into these submissions. All were typed as computers were unavailable back then.

It was also interesting to hear that this association was successful in lobbying the City of Etobicoke to have changes made that helped condo owners in their municipality including getting a Fire Route by-law passed.

Burst pipe floods condo garage damaging dozens of vehicles
A Bay Street condo had a major water leak that drowned all the cars in the P5 parking level. It took 10 hours to shut the water off and days to pump the water out of the parking garage.
http://bit.ly/19gaXXq

Fraud charge could help solve Gravenhurst cottage scam, victims and police say
If the cops would lay charges for condo fraud I am sure that would help thousands of victims too.
http://on.thestar.com/1B6fjpz

3 arrested following investigation into condo corruption
More TV news video from Florida. The condo president and two top managers were arrested and charged with stealing from a unit in their North Bay Village building.
http://bit.ly/1AhiZpp

N.J. men accused of stealing more than $75K from condominium
More and more stories in the US about condos being victims of fraud. I guess it is because condo fraud is such an easy crime to get away with.
http://bit.ly/1MuY0VX
—†—

Condo News

12 March 2015

Bill 73: The Smart Growth for Our Communities Act, 2015
On Thursday, March 5th, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Honorable Ted McMeekin, announced the introduction of Bill 73: The Smart Growth for Our Communities Act, 2015.

MPP Peter Milczyn send out an e-mail giving the following highlights.

Development Charges, Parkland fees, and Section 37 Payments
The Development Charges Act will be amended to allow municipalities to collect more funding for Transit infrastructure and waste recycling and handling facilities.

Proposed changes will allow municipalities to derive fees on the basis of desired future levels of service or enhanced levels of services (The City of Toronto will be able to collect millions of additional dollars annually from new development. The precise amounts will be subject to the City of Toronto adopting a new development charges by-law).

Changes will require municipalities to clearly report how much money has been collected and how it is being spent.

Development Charges
There are a range of community benefits under Section 37.

Cash-in-lieu of Parkland dedication
A municipality that chooses to accept "cash-in-lieu" of parkland from new development will be required to create and adopt a Parks Master Plan showing where and when new parks are proposed to be created using the funds collected.
http://bit.ly/1x9cK5U

In reality this is an additional tax grab. The developers would put more money into transit and infrastructure improvements under proposed legislation but actually, it is the condo buyers that will be paying more.
http://bit.ly/1BTsNKO

Top Ten: Ways Your Condo Is “Dated”
David Fleming agrues that parquet wood flooring and green ceramic tiles makes condos look dated. Who can disagree? However I think he is wrong about white appliances and vertical blinds.
http://bit.ly/1GtRqjM

German city uses water-repellent paint to splash public urinators with their own pee
Hamburg's nightclub district fights a gross problem by giving public urinators a taste of their own medicine.

I can see this paint being used in staircases and on the exterior walls of some condo buildings.
http://bit.ly/1wPl4x6

HOA reconsiders denial of playhouse for girl battling cancer
Homeowner board refused to allow a Make a Wish playhouse for girl with cancer. Looking like jerks throughout the whole USA, they are thinking of allowing it.

What is it about being on a board of directors that makes people heartless.
http://bit.ly/1AXOQKL

Reserve Fund Studies work
Metro Vancouver roofing contractors are crediting B.C.’s new depreciation reports (Reserve Fund Studies) for a boom in roof replacements.

“We are booked through to the end of August if we work six days a week,” said Josh Gibson, co-owner of Benchmark Roofing Ltd. of Coquitlam.

The cost of replacing a multi-family roof runs from $12 to $15 per square foot. 
A typical roof lasts 20 to 25 years.

Since depreciation reports were mandated 14 months ago, about 30% of the 30,000 strata corporations in B.C. have completed a report, according to Jeremy Bramwell of Vancouver-based Bramwell & Associates Realty Advisors Inc., which operates one of the largest depreciation report departments in the province.

Strata corporations can opt out of the requirement with a 75% vote among members. As well, smaller condo buildings of five or less units are exempt from the legislation. (Since I suppose that people are buying units in condos there goes the myth of today's buyers are informed consumers.)
http://bit.ly/190B7gE

E-mails from readers
The Condo Act has to be amended and proclaimed very quickly. In the meantime, using the courts to punish owners should be stopped by the ministry changing the Condo Act regulations.

I so agree. It's disgusting that this continues to go on. Always such nonsense. Thanks for keeping us informed.

B.B.—ex-condo owner, Toronto
—†—

Condo News
09 March 2015

Audrey Loeb writes on fees at The Toy Factory
We worry that artificially keeping common expenses low for the purpose of increasing the market value of units will benefit those who are going to sell in the short term. It is, however, unfair to the community in the long term.

The suggestion that the occasional special assessment is a better way to go, rather than keeping common expenses higher to reflect the true cost of living in the condominium means that those who are benefitting from living in the property may not be paying their fair share. The burden of large expenditures falls then on those who happen to be the owners at the time that the special assessment is made, not those who have sold and moved on but enjoyed the benefit of owning a unit in the building for several years.

Negotiating with reserve fund engineers to have them change their decisions on costs and time frames is also not appropriate.

Read her full essay at:
http://bit.ly/1CDu3TI

Burst pipes
Over the last year, I am hearing more and more about very serious water leaks in large condo towers due to burst pipes. How serious? How about 75 owners having to evacuate their units for several months, floods coming down 48 floors, putting all elevators out of commission and flooding cars on the third level of the parking garage—that serious.

There seems to be three common reasons:
1.
Lack of maintenance. Old pipes are not getting replaced as the regularly scheduled preventive maintenance was not getting done.
2.
Sloppy work. When work is done in the parking garage levels and in the maintenance rooms, the insulation that was removed was not re-installed.
3.
Work that had been scheduled and paid for was not actually done. No one was checking to see if plumbers actually did it.
4.
The extra cold weather in January and February.

It is impossible to get good information on how often this is happening because the condo's management and the boards are keeping everything secret.

Wouldn't want potential buyers to be fully informed buyers, now would we?

Smoking in units—a Colorado court decision
The court acknowledged that smoking is not illegal, but likened it to “excessively loud noise.” Like noise, the court said, “smoke can’t be confined within a unit and can create a nuisance for others that the association had the authority to regulate.”  It concluded that the secondhand smoke, whether the smoke itself or just the odor, constituted a nuisance as defined by the condominium association's declaration and the amendment was not unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious.
http://bit.ly/1EOERxK

Wild parties, theft, condom wrappers: The risks (and rewards) of Airbnb
The company’s website avoids even the implication of risk or distrust. Guidelines on “How can I prepare myself as a host?” make no mention of locking up valuables, a common-sense precaution, and a series of hosts-only online forums ask users to refrain from posting “doubts or problems with Airbnb.”

Eventually, the noisy gatherings prompted her condo board to ban Airbnb rentals, at which point Chiu decided to sell. The board then fined her more than $400 for common-area cleanup.

Sharing, it seems, doesn’t always mean caring on Airbnb.
http://bit.ly/1EnLVkj

Installation of Carbon Monoxide Detectors
A very good article on changes to the fire code. If the building has a garage, a carbon monoxide detector must be installed adjacent to each bedroom in each suite that has a common wall or common floor/ceiling assembly with the garage. (Ground floor units in most towers & many townhouse complexes may now require them.)
http://bit.ly/1Cyxefh

Decertify our condo board, residents tell Cambridge council
A small group of detached houses are finding the true costs of condominium living. In the United States they would be considered an HOA.
http://bit.ly/1EOOCfu

Recognition on Twitter

E-mails from readers
I am thinking of buying a condo in an older building in Toronto. The condo is very big with two bedrooms and baths. I think I can get it for less than $120,000. What do you think?
Edwin—Toronto

We talked by phone and I told you that I know that building. Since you are thinking of being an owner-resident, and you are on a very tight budget, you need to know that you are at some risk of having special assessments or paying your share of expensive loans sometime down the road.

That building needs expensive repairs that have been deferred for years now.


It is tough to buy a condo in that price range that has been well maintained, where the monthly common expenses will not unexpectedly jump up and the unit values will rise.

Before you go ahead, make sure you read the full Reserve Fund Study and compare it to the numbers in the audited financial statements. If you need help in deciphering this, let me know and I will look it over with you.

I also suggest that you ask the directors for a 15 minute interview before their next board meeting so you can ask them a few questions.

Only then, should you make a decision on whether to buy or not.
—editor

—†—
Condo News
05 March 2015

Purpose-built rental buildings making a comeback
This is good news as condos do not make for good long-term rental stock.
http://bit.ly/1Ga5kY4

The common expenses conundrum
Chris Jaglowitz weighs in on the condo fees debate.
http://bit.ly/1wLhcYd

PwC principal Clarke and wife arrested amid dispute with condo developer
Getting arrested and facing criminal charges over a condo dispute is a very bad idea even if you are rich.
http://bit.ly/18DKanO

So You Think You Can Dance….And Sell Your Own Condo?
Another interesting and amusing article from David Fleming.

My clients went to see the property with the full knowledge that a seller who is listing his or her own property might have a few quirks and perhaps a couple tricks as well.

"The next day I asked Brandon if he spoke with his lawyer, and he informed me that any “extra” services would cost him more than the $199 he was prepared to pay for a lawyer’s services."
http://bit.ly/1FRUSkG

Toronro Condo News
Here is the web version of Toronto Condo News.
http://bit.ly/1vWkrRv

E-mails from readers

Rooftop amenities
Very important

Anybody who buys in a building with water features on the roof—like a pool or a fountain or a garden with irrigation lines—is just asking for it.

Roofs were meant to protect the building from water and roofs were absolutely not meant to be recreational facilities.  Get ready to spend millions on a disintegrated, filthy and costly roof if you have a rooftop pool.

Director—Toronto

All architects will tell you that flat roofs leak. That is why they are so rarely found on residential houses.

Swimming pools leak so indoor pools are usually found on the ground floor. This is true for both hotels and residential towers.

But rooftop swimming pools and gardens are now the rage. One New York City condo is going to feature a rooftop skating rink.

What can I say? Whatever you do, don't buy a unit that sits underneath the swimming pool or a hot tub. When it starts leaking, you may be the first to sound the alarm after your ceiling collapses.
—editor

—†—
Condo News
02 March 2015

Little Burgundy condo residents going on 11 days without water
Frozen pipe that serves water to 3 condo buildings in south-west Montreal means no running water for 30 people.
http://bit.ly/17J1hDE

Debunking the myths about your condo fees
An owner of a real estate office says paying less than 50 cents per square feet for maintenance fees is a good benchmark if you wish to control your maintenance costs.

The average paid in the Greater Toronto Area is 59 cents per square foot, according to one study.
http://bit.ly/1A15ed7

Could high strata (condo) fees affect the resale of your condo?
Tony Gioventu with the Condo Owners Association of BC says fees are not the biggest obstacle to resale. “What’s more critical is do we have the right amount of money so that we can properly maintain our building’s but there is no indication that higher fees have an impact on real estate prices,”
http://bit.ly/17GvQcS

Conditional offer
A woman got her deposit back after her lawyer advised her not to purchase the condo unit. The status certificate showed that the fees were higher than stated and there was an undisclosed special assessment.
http://bit.ly/1FCz3FE

Why green building has hit the wall
Building owners and developers would prefer a certification process that’s simpler, cheaper and more useful. Unless mandated by policy or driven by government incentives, LEED is something for which they are increasingly saying deciding, “no thanks.”
 
Perceived benefits are slight: In most cases, the benefits include savings in energy efficiency that would be achieved in most cases without a green building certification.
http://bit.ly/1LQ0TST

Sales are picking up
Condo sales started to pick up in February with some condos, even ones in the lower price levels receiving multiple offers. I didn't notice this last year. We will have to see if the GTA condo market still has life in it.

E-mails from readers

Can't afford to leave
I live in the bldg because my mom lives there and because I can't afford to move because unit owners have sold so low that we would have to take a big loss.
Owner—North Etobicoke

Once you get caught in a condo that is losing value as much as yours has, it can be financially very difficult to sell as you come out of the deal with too little cash to be able to buy another home. Since people who have been burnt by buying a condo usually want to buy a free-hold rather than risk buying another condo, their only option is to rent rather than buy.
—editor

The Fee Fighters
There has been such a large response to my interview with The Fee Fighters, I posted the responses with the article.


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