Owners battle rental companies for condo board control
By Simon Nakonechny
01 September 2016
A group of residents and owners took back control of their condo
building Tuesday night from short-term rental companies they say had
stacked the board of directors against them, and were allowing the
building to be run like a hotel.
And they had a message to other condo dwellers around the city: be prepared, because your building could be next.
"Craziness, lies, deception and inappropriateness"
Unit owners in the building near Wellington West and John Street were
visibly relieved as they celebrated the end of what they described as a
"Of course everybody's happy," said Igor Gurgs, who owns a suite in the
building that he rents out to a long-term tenant. "We were applauding.
People were drinking champagne."
The group says short-term rental companies, notably WhiteHall Suites
and Red Maple Suites, are running short-term rental businesses in their
building — in clear violation of the condo rules.
But when condo directors tried to clamp down on the practice last year,
they were voted off the board and replaced by non-residents who some
owners say were sympathetic to the short-term rental companies.
At the Tuesday night meeting, owners successfully removed four of the
five board members, saying they had lost confidence in them.
"I am so excited, so excited," said resident Ann Drysdale. "It's
been almost two years of craziness, and lies, and deception and
Loud parties and drunken excess
Drysdale said much of what she calls inappropriateness was linked to
the behaviour of guests renting for short stays and treating the
building like a hotel.
"I've had people enter my suite and look at me like I'm crazy," she
said. "They got the wrong door. She told CBC News she heard them enter
the suite across the hall, telling their children that Drysdale was in
the wrong because she didn't lock her door.
Other residents complained of loud parties and drunken excess.
There were cigarette butts, there were beer bottles, vomiting.
- Atul Paul, Resident
"There was a lot of rubbish that was thrown in the patio, there were
cigarette butts, there were beer bottles, vomiting," said Atul Paul, an
owner and resident.
"I had to clean my balcony siding a couple of times over the last few months because someone threw up over the top."
Companies didn't own suites they rented online
Neither WhiteHall nor Red Maple own suites in the building.
Instead, they lease the units from their owners then turn around and
rent them on sites like Expedia.ca and Booking.com.
A quick internet search still shows units in the building for short-term rent under both companies' names.
As the meeting went on inside the condominium recreation room on
Tuesday night, three German tourists sat forlornly in the lobby with
their luggage; waiting to be checked in for a three-night stay.
The tourists said they had booked the suite online from WhiteHall and
weren't aware short-term stays were against the building's rules.
Rental companies say they're being singled out
But WhiteHall Suites and Red Maple Suites both deny doing anything wrong.
They say short-term rentals were going on in the building before they
began the practice, and that it was tolerated by prior boards, despite
the written rules against it.
"We have been operating for over five years in this building and our
lease agreements were provided to the building property managements,"
said WhiteHall Suites president Adnan Khan in a written statement to
"Why were we not informed for the last five years that short term is
prohibited?" The statement continued, "Our lease agreements clearly
state that the properties will be used for short term renting."
"Our lease agreements clearly state that the properties will be used for short term renting."
—Adnan Khan, President, WhiteHall Suites
WhiteHall also denied any links to the former board members. But a
Corporate Housing Providers Association of Canada web page lists a
former condo board member as the main contact for WhiteHall Suites.
As for Red Maple, spokesperson Uroos Jabeen acknowledged to CBC News
they did try to influence the composition of the previous board, "Yes,
we asked our landlords to vote for these people," Jabeen said.
But she said the company had the best interests of the building at heart and that they were being treated "very unfairly."
'I'm sure it's happening in other buildings, as well'
Unfair or not, it appears that with a new board in place that is ready
to enforce the rules, the days of short-term rentals in this building
WhiteHall said they will vacate all their units by November 30, 2016.
Red Maple said they will not renew their leases when they expire.
But residents say that won't stop short-term rental companies from finding other buildings.
Resident Michelle Paquette says it was a "big battle" to force the
existing directors off the board, directors she says were friendly to
short-term rental companies.
And resident Gurgs says volunteer-run condo boards are ill-equipped to
fight back, even if rules against short-term rentals are already in
"There should be some laws preventing these crews to take over," he
said. "You can't go after them without paying tons of money and
Ann Drysdale says she thinks it's a matter of building closer ties between residents.
"Get to know your neighbours and see if they're angry or mad about this
as well," she said, "Because I"m sure it's happening in other buildings