“I am disillusioned enough to know that no man's opinion on any subject is worth a damn unless backed up with enough genuine information to make him really know what he's talking about.”
—H.P. Lovecraft

You moved into your condo and at first you loved it. However, after a few months, or maybe years, you start to feel that the condo corporation is not being run as well as you think it should be.

There are issues with the common elements, finances, management, pets, noise issues, cigarette butts, garbage or the elevators. When you complain, nothing gets done.

So what do you do then?

Gather information
Ask other owners how they feel about the building; pro and con. Listen to the residents in the lobby and elevators and stand outside socializing with the smokers. That is how you find out what the other owners are thinking. Ask questions but limit your comments.

Stay on good terms with the property manager and the board members. Ask questions but stay pleasant. You always want to be able to approach them again when you have more questions.

Never say you will sue or that you have a lawyer. Never. That will give the board and management good reason to stop talking to you and to ignore any of your requests to examine the corporation records.

Re-read all the documentation that you were given with your status certificate when you bought your unit. This includes the declaration, by-laws, policies and the rules.

Then read the latest audited financial statements and the current budget. Read the Reserve Fund Study. You need to examine the complete study, not just the two-page table of figures that should be given to all owners. There should be a copy in the management office that you can examine.

Read all the condo's newsletters and notices as far back as possible. There may be an owner who kept them all. Print a copy for yourself.

Start keeping a record of the asking prices from the realtor.ca & condos.ca websites. Keep track of the number of units that are up for sale. This will give you an idea of how many owners are trying to get out and whether the number for sale is going up or down. This will also give you an idea of whether property values are increasing or not.

You will also get an idea of when new owners or renters are moving in. You will need that information when you make a list of owners.

Learn the corporation’s history. When was it built? Who were on the previous board of directors and do they still live in the building? Has anyone kept a copy of all the old auditor reports that you can inspect?

If an owner tells you about an incident or a relationship between a board member and any of the contractors, for example, try to get a second independent confirmation on this before you accept it as fact.

There are many unfounded rumours floating around condos. At my condo, one young man told me, on a couple of occasions, that he paid his condo fees in cash to the assistant manager. He never got a receipt. Then he gets a threat of a lien because his fees were in arrears. I believed Rick until I found out that he was a drug addict. I knew then that without independent verification, I could not be sure if he was telling me the truth.

Check the city Municipal Licensing and Standards department’s website to see if they conducted any inspections of the property during the last two years.

In the City of Toronto, anyone can phone 311 and file autonomous complaint. Here is Toronto’s website:

At this condominium, Toronto Hydro was going to pull the plug because the board was not making their payments. The owners thought that their finances are in bad shape but they didn't know just how bad they were.

Every year this condo paid over $20,000 in penalties to the utility companies.

Who are the players?
You also want to know how long the present board members been in power and if they have any potential conflicts of interest. Is there a relationship between present board and the developer? How about the manager and the board? Who introduced whom?

Use several different search engines on the Internet to check on individuals and companies. You may be surprised at what pops up.

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