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Rent controls
Owners fighting with their boards
Fire—a serious danger
Introduction commissions
A deal of the century
Conflicting interests
Why windows shatter
Blessed are the fee cutters
Condo buyers' guide
Condo News lost another reader
An owner's best defence
Condo insurance may become expensive
Condo owner wants lower fees
The right to low fees
Condo residents must vote
Throwing in the towel
Any warm body will do
Changes to the Condominium Act
Our readers
Fear the fee cutters
No dogs allowed
Striking elevator workers say repairs needed
New condo sale promotions
Toronto’s glass condo towers cast a shadow
Downloading social housing
Possession of my resale
Re-sales are hitting the skids
It’s time Toronto gave condo dwellers a little respect
Ready to be noticed
Simplycondos blog
Free ice cream
The high price for parking


Rent controls made a comeback
May 2017

I was extremely surprised when the Ontario Liberals placed rent controls on all rental housing in the province. In less than a month the Bill went from 1st reading to proclamation.

So what's next? I suspect that within a year:
Developers will be reluctant to build more purpose-built rental buildings.
Condo investors/landlords will start getting out of the rental business. Their units will be turned into short-term rental properties (Airbnb) or they will sell their units.
The prices of one bedroom condos in the GTA should drop. (This opinion is shared by a couple of readers who are experienced Realtors.)
Condo boards will face pressure from the investor/landlords to keep the maintenance fees low.
The federal and provincial government will need to fund public housing or subsidize the building of low-cost housing units.


Mississauga woman's bitter battle with condo board not uncommon, experts say
March 2017

All Alexandra Isa wanted to know was why the boiler in her brand new condo was replaced after less than four years. She thought it was a simple question.

But seven years later, Isa says she still hasn't received a proper answer and is now locked in a bitter and costly dispute with her own condo board.

This is the second CBC "info-commercial" on the updates to Ontario's Condo Act. We are told the personal story of a condo owner who in a long-running dispute with their board and then given the hope that the new Condominium Authority Tribunal will solve these kind of problems.

I agree that many disputes between owners and their condo boards should become easier and cheaper to resolve but only when both parties are acting in good faith.

In this case, although we do not have all the facts, it appears that the board upgraded the boiler for a more efficient one. There is nothing that says there was anything wrong with the old one so this was an upgrade. If so, the replacement should have been approved by a vote by the owners and the money should have come out of the Operating Fund. That was not done.

If Ms. Alexandra wants to know the reason management and the board bought the boiler without holding an owners meeting, she will never find that out by reading all the condo's documents. So how is the Condominium Authority Tribunal going to fix that? Make the directors personally pay for the boiler? I don't think so.


Fire—a serious danger
February 2017
Late last last year, I started tracking news stories involving condos. The five top ranking stories by frequency were:
1. News reports promoting condo real estate developments.
2. Condo fires.
3. Crime occurring in or around condos.
4. How to renovate/decorate your condo unit.
5. Fraud. Condos getting ripped off.

I was surprised at the number of fires that occurred in condos. Most fires were started kitchen fires followed by careless smoking.

Some fires were small and were confined to just one unit. However, many fires resulted in several units having to be evacuated and the serious fires resulted in whole condo towers or townhouse complexes being uninhabitable. Many people will be out of their homes for months, some for a couple of years.

Fire has serious consequences. A few people die, more than a few pets die. Homes and peoples' belonging are destroyed. Many are made homeless and they have to find a place to live while their units are rebuilt. While they are displaced, they still need to pay their monthly maintenance fees and mortgages along with paying rent.

What needs to be done? Plenty.

The provincial governments should:
Legislate that all new condos must have sprinklers on the balconies, especially wood-framed buildings.
No smoking allowed in multi-unit housing.
Legislate that municipal fire services need to inspect all annual Fire Safety Reports for multi-unit residences.

The municpaliies should:
Ban propane barbecues on all apartment balconies.

The condo corporations should:
Regularly inspect all balconies for flamables.
Adopt rules preventing smoking in the units, the exclusive use common elements (balconies) and in the common elements.
Make sure all residents know the corporation's safety procedures, rules and regulations.
Urge all residents to get unit insurance.


Introduction commissions
September 2016

A few months ago, I started reading about strata (condo) issues in Australia. A constant subject that kept coming up was kickbacks or commissions that the property managers were receiving from suppliers and contractors, often without the board of directors knowledge. In business they are often called Introduction Commissions.

A big concern was secret commissions for building insurance. The property managers would present three quotes to the board and one quote was always the lowest. What the boards did not know that the management company was getting a 20% commission.

There are numerous allegations of kickbacks in the condo industry, and some civil lawsuits, but there has been very few proven cases brought to public attention. There has also been very few criminal cases in Ontario, if any, dealing with condominium kickbacks.

Until Ontario includes language banning the practice in the Condo Act, it would be prudent for condo boards to insist that their management and supplier contracts have language forbidding undisclosed commissions or finder fees.

It may not stop the practice but it may slow it down a little.

A deal of the century
July 2016
From a Toronto MLS listing for a unit that sold:

Client Remks:
• Fantastic Investment! Take Advantage Of Spacious Sun Drenched Suite,
• With All Attributes For Amiable Living.
• Additional Features Include A North Western Courtyard Exposure,
• Updated Kitchen (6 Appliances ),
• 2 Roomy Bedrooms,
• Renovated Bath,
• Laminate Floors Throughout, Ceramics,
• Ensuite Laundry, Storage Room,
• Neutral Decor,
• Open Balcony,
• Parking,
• Excellent Recreational Facilities and Steps To All Amenities.
• A Deal of The Century!!
A fantastic investment?
Well, this unit sold for $165,000 and that does sound cheap for a 1,200 square foot unit. However, the condo corporation has next to no recreational facilities and it is a short walk to the bus stop where a bus will pick you up and take you to all amenities you may desire.

Just a few things minor technicalities this real estate agent forgot to mention.

The condo is broke and next to no maintenance or repairs have been done to it in years. The underground garage does not meet the municipal building codes, bricks have been falling off the walls and the building envelopes and the roofs leak. There is mould in many of the units and the utility bills are in arrears.

Hate to be picky but there is one more tiny detail missing from the Client Remarks: There is only $49 in the Reserve Fund.

A Deal of the Century? It sure was for the seller and his agent.


Window at The Trizon condo unit shatters
The Strait Times—Singapore
04 July 2016

Over the past four years, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has received an average of 15 reports on glass shattering per year coming from a total of 25 condos.

After reviewing building regulations on the use of glass in critical areas, it said that from July 2011 buildings must use laminated glass where glass is used as a part or whole of a safety barrier.

This includes barriers at balcony areas, to ensure that broken pieces will be held together if there is spontaneous breakage.

However, these regulations do not apply retrospectively to estates.

The BCA said: "Prior to July 2011, tempered glass was allowed by BCA to be used as safety barriers because (it) is known for its strength."

But it has a risk of spontaneous shattering, which is caused by the expansion of nickel sulphide crystals in the glass over time.

While such shattering is uncommon, tempered glass can break into small bits.

But the management of the condo cannot guarantee there will be no future breakage. Home owners will have to decide if they want to replace all the glass in the building facade after holding a general meeting. Glass experts agree that spontaneous shattering is uncommon.

"It is generally known that metallic nickel contamination of the raw materials for glass manufacturing can combine with sulphur (from furnace fuel) during melting to form a nickel sulphide inclusion," said Mr Ian Lee, operations director of Meng Heng Glass.

"This may cause spontaneous breakage if the glass is subsequently heat-treated," he said.

Mr Gary Lee, business development manager of Singapore Safety Glass, said that inclusion of nickel sulphide is a common reason for such breakages, although this cannot be seen with the naked eye or easily detected by technology.

Other possible reasons are "edge damage or surface damage (of the glass) from handling or installation".

National Safety Council deputy president Fong Kim Choy suggests installing a film on glass barriers at home that can hold shattered glass together if it breaks. "You cannot prevent shattering - it's the nature of glass manufacturing," said Mr Fong. "But what we can do is prevent harm if it shatters."

Types of glass
Tempered glass

Strong but can shatter into small pieces if raw materials used are contaminated.

Commonly used in coffee tables, shower doors, partitions, doors in malls.

Cost: Around $50 per sq m for 12mm glass.

Heat-strengthened glass

Treated for a longer time than tempered glass, breakage results in bigger shards.

Commonly used in building facades.

Cost: Similar to tempered glass.

Laminated glass

Uses an interlayer to hold two pieces of glass together, preventing the glass from shattering even when broken.

Commonly used in building facades, windows, safety barriers and skylights.

Cost: Around $90 per sq m for 12.76mm glass.


Conflicting interests
July 2016

Condos are often thought of as happy little communities containing only a few malcontents who would be better off if they sold their units and bought a home somewhere in the country far away from any neighbours.

In some condos this matches reality, especially where the residents and owners share the same values and interests. Yet condo harmony doesn't exist in many condos as there are serious conflicting interests. They include:

Low fees verse maintaining the property
This is most likely the biggest source of friction as these two factions will never be able to agree.

Enforce the rules verse almost anything goes
This is a big one as it includes noise issues, parking infractions, dog poop in the elevators, smoking in the common elements, beer bottles at the swimming pool, garbage being tossed over the balconies and kids playing soccer in the hallways or ball hockey on the roadways.

Overcrowded units
Many townhouse owners rent out their basements and apartment owners may rent out a spare bedroom but overcrowding can get right out of hand.

Some low-income owners and slumlords rent out bedrooms and may convert living rooms, dining rooms, solariums, dens, insuite storage rooms and even balconies into extra bedrooms in order to make more money.

Utility and garbage collection costs and the wear and tear on the building goes through the roof. This becomes an issue of individual gain at the expense of all the other owners.

Short-term rentals
It looks like this will become a huge issue. In the newer condos, owner-residents may find that they are badly outnumbered by commercial companies that have bought units so they can operate them as suite-hotel rooms and a large number of individual investors who rent out their units on a short-term basis.

On the other hand, the owners, who rent their units out on a short-term basis, may find that the majority of owners are owner-residents who are determined to drive them out of business.

Who wins this battle will depend on the the wording of the condo's Declaration and on which side has the numbers required to dominate the board.

Shared facilities
This is where two or more condo boards fight among themselves over the managing and funding of the shared facilities. It can get real ugly.

If you find yourself involved any of these conflicts, it may be time to sell and find yourself a condo—better yet, a freehold—that better conforms to your values and lifestyle.


Blessed are the fee cutters
June 2016
I recently went to an AGM in Mississauga. The 150 unit stacked townhouse condo is in bad physical and financial shape.

Two years ago, the owners beat off a court application by the board to have an administrator appointed to run the corporation. The owners removed all the directors at a requisition meeting and this was the new board's first AGM.

The condo did not have an AGM last year and the AGM package did not include the last AGM minutes or the audited financial statements for the 2014 fiscal year. The AGM was seven months late.

As a proxy holder, I had questions for the auditor. The Reserves showed a balance of over $1 million and I wanted to know where was the missing $450,000.  (It went to the operating fund that shows an accumulated deficit of—wait for it—$450,000.

The auditor explained that although  there are two funds, an operating one and a reserve fund, in practice for the last ten years, the boards ran the building as if there was only a single fund.

When I explained that taking money that was slated for the Reserves to pay the operating expenses was not allowed under the Condominium Act, the auditor replied that transferring the money was actually quite easy.

I am not use to such honest and blunt statements from auditors and I appreciated his candour for he was right; it is quite easy and quite common.

Between the financial statements, the president's report and the secretary's comments, the owners were informed that:

By drastically underfunding the Reserves, the corporation's finances showed a big improvement. (At least in the short term.)

As per the last Reserve Fund Study, the Reserves are being underfunded by $200,000 a year. (Another source of short-term savings.)

The board has cut expenditures as much as they could.

The only major repairs being done on the property are due to multiple work orders issued by the city building inspectors and municipal fire services.

The board decided to cut the owners' monthly maintenance fees by 5%.

The owners' reaction
So what was the owner's reaction to all of this?

They applauded when they heard that the monthly expenses were reduced, they applauded the auditor, the property management, the corporation's lawyer, the board of directors and then they applauded themselves when the board thanked them for their support.

From the questions that that the auditor was asked, there seemed to be only one owner who caught on that not all was right with all of this and this was because he is a property manager.

The lesson here

In far too many condos, the owners' primary concern is low monthly fees. A board that freezes the fees, or better yet cuts them, will be very popular.

The winners and the losers?
The winners are the past and present owners who had, and are presently paying, unrealistically low monthly expenses.

The losers will be the owners who stay on title and the future buyers. They will own, or will be purchasing a unit, in a run-down condo that will need millions in repairs.
The ghost of an administrator's appointment hangs over this condo corporation. Either that or eventual termination.


Condo buyer's guide
April 2016

I was considering publishing a buyers' guide for resales in the GTA as a part of CondoMadness.

I would canvas a group of respected real estate agents, property managers and contractors to compile a list of good quality condo buildings that we could recommend to potential buyers.

I had to abandon the idea. With help, I can determine what condos have been well maintained, have a healthy reserve fund, their financial statements are in good shape, it has a competent board of directors and a long track record of success. Though a bit tricky, that is fairly easy.

I raised this idea with two industry experts and both said the same thing. Although a condo is a great buy today, six months from now it could turn into a nightmare.

The problem is that with a single election at an AGM, the majority on the board can change and it is possible that the condo corporation can start to deteriorate very quickly.

It didn't take long for me to realize this is too true.

I live in a great condo and I am very happy here. The building is very well maintained, it is populated by 90% owner-residents, there is no obnoxious residents as far as I can tell and the few units that go on sale move quickly and the prices are steady climbing.

We have a competent board and there is no sign of any political conflict among the owners. Best of all, this corporation has a 40 year track record of continuous success.

Even so, my wife and I stay alert for any signs of potential trouble. At the first sign that this corporation is starting to deteriorate, physically, financially or politically, we will be quick to sell.

So, if I have to qualify purchasing in the building where I live, how can I recommend buildings that I don't know near as well?


Condo News lost another reader

March 2016

Another subscriber to my Condo News column has cancelled his subscription. I lose subscribers to my free e-mail Condo News from time to time.

He fought against the previous board, became a director and worked hard for a year helping to straighten out the finances and maintenance problems.

In return he was subject to verbal abuse and a threat of removal from office by a requisition meeting. Some of the owners were upset because the board raised the monthly maintenance fees.

So he gave up condo ownership for good and bought a detached house. That too is common. Once they have been burnt at one condo, few owners are willing to try their luck at another one.


An owner's best defence
November 2015

After studying condo ownership for the last six years, I have good reason to believe that the owners must to fully understanding the financial and structural health of their condo corporation. This can only be done by being able to read and understand the audited financial statements, read and understand the latest three Reserve Fund Studies, attend the AGMs and question the auditor on anything in his/her report that seems vague or understated.

Recently, I spent several days pouring over a condo's financial statements for the previous eight years, read through its last three Reserve Fund Studies and read the minutes from the last four AGMs.

That condo needs a large increase in fees or a special assessment. Perhaps both.

Only by looking at all the figures, did I see that the annual budgets contained only token increases in the monthly maintenance expenses and that the actual Reserves did not match the amounts recommended by the engineers in the Reserve Fund Studies.

Another concern is that the property management company wrote a memo to the owners saying that some maintenance will be skipped and major repairs were being pushed out into the future.

Finally, I saw that in four years, the board had three Reserve Fund Studies done by three different engineering companies. The board was looking for an engineering company that would agree to lower contributions to the reserves.

My recommendations to the owners I talked to? Sell and get out before the required repairs become too expensive for the owners to bare.


Condo insurance may become expensive
April 2015

This newspaper article raised a bit of a stir last week. Condo corporations may find it harder to get insurance and when they do they may find that the premiums are far more expensive and/or the deductibles have increased to surprising levels.

Insurers increasingly turning away from the condo sector
April 2015
Rising claims for water damage in condo buildings and inadequate regulation have led insurance companies to refuse new clients or demand higher premiums for coverage, adding fuel to concerns about quality in Canada’s fastest-growing housing segment.

Yet this really is not news as I have been reading articles about this problem for the last three years.

Burnt out—twice
The owners in this small condo complex in York Region had the bad luck of being burnt out twice due to careless smoking.

Now they are being penalized by having to wait for their building to be rebuilt—for a second time—and by being hit with a huge increase in fire insurance premiums.

This first article, from the Montreal Gazette, was a real eye opener.

Condo insurance: a dripping time bomb
November 2012
Major Canadian condo markets might be plagued with fears over high personal debt and overbuilding, but experts say an even bigger threat to owners involves problems with insurance.

In a two-part series, The Gazette reveals how ignorance, bad luck, and a mix of rising claims and premiums have left some Montreal condo owners one fire or flood away from risking their investments. This week, we look at the risks of under-insurance.

That has been followed by these articles.

Calgary condo insurance costs skyrocketing
June 2014
Coates, a consultant who works with condo buyers and boards, says there are likely two factors to blame for the increasing costs — owner negligence and natural disasters.

The Co-operators drops commercial condo insurance in Western Canada and Quebec
August 2014
Commercial condo insurance is no longer available from one of the country’s largest insurers, leaving some people in Calgary scrambling to find new policies on multi-family dwellings.

This is another condo issue that we have to worry about. How many owners have checked to see how much insurance their condo corporation has and what are the deductibles?

Will potential buyers wise up and check the specifics of the corporation's insurance before they buy? (I am betting they won't.)

Can you afford to pay the corporation's insurance deductible, on top of your own, if there is a leak originating from your unit? (I am betting that many owners would find it difficult.)


Condo owner wants lower fees
March 2015
Yossi Kaplan is a real estate agent and an owner at Radio City condos, a two-tower corporation at 281-285 Mutual Street. He wrote a blog urging his board to follow the example of The Toy Factory Lofts and lower the monthly maintenance fees.

I have a few concerns with his essay. He suggests that the owners should ask for a status certificate to see how their money is spent and suggests that the certificate could be free. (I figure that it would cost $100). I think that the owners should be asking for a copy of the latest budget; that should be free.

I am puzzled that Yossi does not know who the directors are. As an owner, and a real estate agent that has clients who bought, sold and leased units in this condo since 2005, I would have hoped that he would attend the AGMs and have some idea of who is directing the corporation's affairs.

Finally, at the end of his blog, Mr. Kaplan asks: "So where are the condo fees spent?" Why doesn't he know?


The right to low fees
February 2015
Do the majority of owners have the right to keep their monthly expenses lower than what is required to properly maintain their building, both in the short term but particularly in the long term?

Some condo lawyers and property managers don't think so. They believe that the board of directors must set the monthly expenses to a level that meets the operating budget and that will fund the Reserves to the level that is required by the latest Reserve Fund Study.

The politicians think so too. That is why the Condo Act says that the Reserves must be fully funded.

Some condo lawyers go further than the Act. They draft by-law packages that contain a directors Code of Conduct that, in theory, requires the directors to set the fees at the level mentioned above; no matter what the majority of owners want.

The Act does not go that far. It may state that the Reserves must be adequately funded but it is not so foolish as to try to enforce it.

I can understand why the condo lawyers and the property managers think this is a good idea. They are afraid that low monthly fees will under-fund the reserves and will, years or even decades down the road, result in a rundown building with extremely low property values. Worse cases will result in the board being replaced by a court-appointed administrator who taxes the owners with huge special assessments or huge loans to pay for very expensive repairs.

In extreme cases, the condo corporation will be terminated.

If a condo corporation is underfunded, the above scenario is the most likely result. It is just a matter of time.

Even so, I contend that if the majority of owners of a private condominium corporation, if they fully understand what they are doing and the long-term consequences of their decision, have the right to elect a majority of directors that will keep the fees low by under-funding the reserves and likely the operating fund as well.

Think of a condo as if it was a car that has multiple owners. The owners can decide to maintain their car as per the manufacturer's recommendations; they can skip most regular maintenance but give the car weekly car washes; or they can spend as little as possible and keep driving it.

In the first case, the owners may keep the car for eight to ten years, in the second case, they will sell it within three to four years to an unsuspecting buyer and in the last case, they will drive the car into the ground and then have it towed to a scrap yard.

Who can say which choice is the wiser use of their money?

A unit in a condo corporation is first of all an investment. Like all investments, the majority of the owners have a right to maximize value as they see fit. They may decide to maintain the investment over the long term, use their unit or units as a cash cow and wring out what ever money they can in the short term before selling or decide to retain their investment but decide to let it fall into disrepair.

The only thing I would demand is that the majority of investors come out into the open and declare which of the three strategies the board should follow.

It is then up to the minority of owners to go along with the majority or sell their investments and live somewhere else.

As far as potential buyers go, well they are on their own aren't they? No one is going to look after them, not the condo's board, not the property manager, not the real estate agents, not the real estate lawyer, not the seller, not the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. No one.

It is just like buying a used car. Most of the time the buyer comes out of it okay but not always. The ones that get burnt, may really get hurt.


Condo residents must vote
May 2014

In the upcoming provincial election, it is very important that condo owners and condo residents vote. CondoMadness is less interested in who you vote for than in you getting out and voting for the candidate or the political party of your choice.

The act of voting makes people think, it encourages people to ask questions and it helps people make informed decisions. Voting encourages people to talk to their neighbours and they then exchange opinions. Voting is also fun and fun is contagious.

A condo building that votes in provincial, federal and municipal elections is a building where the residents will vote in the condo’s elections. It is a building where more people will attend the AGM instead of merely signing a proxy.

So vote in this upcoming election and even do more than that. Help your candidate of choice by canvassing for him or her and become a scrutineer on Election Day.

Learn about elections, makes some new friends and have some fun.


Throwing in the towel
May 2014

When will I get tired of writing and hosting CondoMadness? I have been running the site for the last two and a half years and it has been a lot of work.

I will give this up when I stop learning, when it gets too depressing and when it stops being fun.

When will that be? Hard to say but I would guess that I will start losing interest in a couple of years.


Any warm body will do
April 2014

I have been attending more and more AGMs and it is clear that in many condos it is the management company that runs the corporation.

In some condos, that results in poor quality services and/or overcharging for contracts, bid rigging, drained reserves and special assessments. This is especially so with certain unethical management companies.

Yet in many other condos, the owners should be thankful that an established and ethical management company is in charge.

I say this because I see directors that obviously do not have a clue what their duties are, the amount of effort they should be putting into the position and they don't seem to understand that they need to educate themselves on what they need to do.

I have been privy to:

Presidents who cannot chair a meeting. A real president presides and does not let the district manager chair the meetings or pay a lawyer several hundred dollars an hour to do their job.
Board secretaries who cannot take the minutes of the board meetings. They hire a professional service for a few hundred dollars a meeting to do what they should be doing for free. They also can't organize the correspondence or type letters. The property manager or an office clerk does all of this.
Treasurers who don't know what bank branch their accounts are in. Many can't read the financial statements. The property manager writes the cheques and then, along with one director, signs them.
Boards where none of the directors have a decent grasp of what is in their declaration, by-laws and rules.
A president of one condo that signs cheques and binding contracts yet he cannot read and write in English.
Board members that contribute nothing more than filling a seat, eating the free dinner offered at board meetings and goes along with whatever the majority decides.

At every AGM, owners repeat the same complaints about noisy neighbours, cockroaches, water leaks and parking issues and the board always claims that they will get right on top of it. Yet, they never do.
Financial statements show that several thousand dollars in arrears were written off as bad debts, several years in a row.
Directors who are out of the country six months of the year.
A president who terminates the management company so he can hire a different one that will hire him as the property manager while he remains the president.
A condo has not raised it's fees for the previous six years. The new board cuts the fees by $25 a month then when the utilities may get cut off, raises them by $12.
At some condos, the monthly board meetings last only 90 minutes. The manager gives the directors the agenda when they arrive and only the treasurer reviews and approves the monthly financial statements.

There are no board meetings during July, August and December.

Condo owners need to take a hard look at who they are electing to be directors and hold their board to a high standard of performance. If they cannot elect a competent board, (due to a lack of suitable candidates), then they need to insure that the board hires an established and ethical property management company.


Changes to the Condominium Act
March 2014

As we wait for the new Act to be introduced in Queens Park we are filled with both hope and anxiety. First the good parts.

Mandatory training, licencing and a discipline body for property managers is long overdue. A database base for condos is also way overdue even if one of the main objectives may be to gather information for levying a new Condo Office tax on all condo units.

Improved training for condo buyers, existing owners, managers and directors is also welcomed. Improved reserve fund requirements is another good move.

Steps to reduce proxy abuse would be welcome although I am not sure how this will be done.

However, we may be going backwards in some areas.

Reducing AGM quorums and making it easier for boards to add or change by-laws are big steps backwards.

Instead of removing the one position on the boards that is voted on by only owner-residents, I suggest that the majority of the board be voted in by only owner-residents. Absentee owners, interested only in low fees, give their proxies to the board that promises no fee increases. Those proxies, along with the proxies from the developer's units and the commercial units, means that the owner-residents have a very difficult time getting elected to the board.

Other candidates are often refused access to the owner's registry so they cannot contact the absentee owners.

Plans to allow boards to use the reserve funds to pay for energy-saving projects without requiring the owner's approval is a very dangerous idea. The reserves could be easily drained on new garage lighting and water-efficient toilets while crumbling concrete and leaking risers are ignored. I see this as a likely boondoggle on a vast scale.

Condo Office may be a great service for owners or it may become like Tarion and the OMB, an agency that helps the industry more than it helps individual owners. My main concern is that the Quick Decision Makers and the Dispute Resolution Office must have real teeth, the decisions must be binding on the parties and it cannot become just another level added to the existing mediation, arbitration and court dispute processes.

Some condos spend more money on legal fees in some years than they do in improving the property. Condo Office needs to reduce the need for lawyers or there is no need for Condo Office.

Then there is the proposed monthly tax on all condo units to pay for Condo Office. I can't see condo owners agreeing to this as we are already over taxed compared to owners of freehold housing and renters. To be taxed for Condo Office if we retain mediation, arbitration and small claims court for dispute resolutions doesn't sit well with me.


Our readers
December 2013

This website, CondoMadness has been up for over a year now and we have been on Twitter for the last couple of months. It is time to share with you how we are doing.

Who is reading the site
Approximately 100 people a week and they visit the site on average of twice a week and spend six minutes a visit and view five pages.

Sixty-five percent of the readers are from Toronto and another 25% are from other parts of Canada, mainly Ontario. The remaining 10% are from the United States with a few readers from around the world including England, Germany, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, India, Singapore, China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) and Korea.

What do they read?
The Condo News section is popular. The chapters on Battling With Your Board, Troubled Condos and Corruption get the most traffic. The Reference pages also do well.

The front chapters on Condo Living and Buying a Condo are not as popular.  I guess that the Internet is awash with sites giving information on how to buy a condo, most of them written by real estate agents.

Singing to the choir?
The website is maintaining its readership by constantly attracting new readers. Every month, half of all the readers are first-time visitors. CondoMadness is attracting an average of 50 new readers a week.

This shows that there are a lot of condo owners who are looking for information and that people come to the site, check out what it has to say and then move on.

After all a website dealing with  condo troubles is more like a automobile owner's manual than a daily newspaper in that it is looked at only when someone has a problem and then put aside when the issue is resolved and then returned to when another issue pops up.

My co-administrator hounded me to start a Twitter account. With her valuable help, and a couple of early mis-steps on my part, we are finding that this is a very good platform for keeping up with condo issues and referring information to condo owners. It is hard to tell how many (or how few) people read it without becoming Followers.

I have an e-mailing that was sent weekly but now is sent a couple times a week. It is sent directly to 97 condo owners and I know it is re-directed to 110 additional owners.

Assisting owners
The main aim of CondoMadness is to be a convenient on-line source of information for condo owners who are having a dispute with their board, want to know how condos function or need to know how their condo should operate.

The two of us will assist owners if they contact us.


Fear the fee cutters
November 2013

Mayor Rob Ford has shocked most citizens of Toronto with an endless number of moral lapses and outrageous acts. Yet, when he could no longer lie and deny, when circumstances forced him to admit the truth; he refused to resign.

Instead, he dug in and said he will be running for a second term.

Despite his shortcomings, the exaggerated successes, his lies, his smoking crack, his bullying and his drunk driving, Rob Ford still retains a large number of supporters who will vote for him again.

Rick Mercer explains why:
“We would rather have a guy on crack than a mayor who will raise our taxes. …We will vote for a gerbil if we get a dollar back. …His politics are very real and they should not be written off just because he is about to be.”

There is a very important lesson here for condo owners. Any candidate for your board of directors who promises to find efficiencies, promises to freeze or lower the condo fees, will be popular and will collect a lot of proxies. More than you would expect.

Such demagogues are both foolish and dangerous; yet they win a lot of condo elections.

They will run your condo into the ground. Maintenance will be neglected, the building will become filthy, roaches will thrive, the bills won’t be paid on time and your Reserve Funds will be exhausted.

None of this matters.  These slum builders will continue to be elected.

I have personal knowledge of condos where the board grants contracts to companies that one of the directors owns and where the condo’s contractors do work in the director's units with the corporation picking up the tab; directors who take bribes or don’t pay their monthly fees and directors who rig elections with altered and forged proxies.

Many owners are aware this is happening. Yet the scoundrels stay in office because they will not raise the fees and they do their supporters “favours”. Many owners ignore the corruption because they think that they're getting a piece of the action.

Before your condo falls into the hands of a gang of shortsighted fee-cutters, your board needs to continually educate the owners on how their money is being spent and why their fees need to keep up with the cost of inflation. The owners need to understand why Reserve Funds are important and how the board’s spending leads to pride in ownership, an enjoyable life style and rising property values. Emphasize the rising property values

Owners also need to understand their condo’s financial affairs and to get actively involved if a group of idiots—or scoundrels—try to seize control of the board in order to starve the corporation of the money it needs to maintain the property for the present and the future.

Listen and learn from Rick Mercer’s rant:


No dogs allowed
August 2013

A couple of years ago, a condo board in a new corporation in Etobicoke rewrote the corporation’s rules so that dogs were no longer allowed.

They reluctantly grandfathered all existing dogs on the property because they had to and they did inform the owners that they could call a meeting to vote on the new rules if the owners of at least 15% of the units signed a requisition for such a meeting.

The corporation’s declaration is silent about pets and the developer put language on pets in the Rules and Regulations. This way the developer (Tridel) could tell original owners that dogs were welcome but leave it open to future board of directors to ban all pets if they wished to.

So far, the ban is working. One owner’s dog died so she bought a pup to replace it. When the board gave her an ultimatum: get rid of the dog or move out she had to decide between her home and her puppy. She went through the expense and heartache of selling her home.

A few owners in that condo are finding that is more difficult for them to sell their units because dogs are banned. A lot of potential buyers own a dog or want the right to have one.

So a warning to all condo purchasers. Insure that the language dealing with dogs and other pets are written in the declaration not in the rules.


Striking elevator workers say repairs needed
Toronto Star
June 2013

Virtually every elevator in the province is operating in breach of provincial safety standards and three-quarters of them need repair, say striking elevator technicians who have been off the job for more than a month.

Speaking to a rally of hundreds of workers at the corner of King St. W. and Bay St., Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan said safety regulations require elevators to be inspected monthly, and almost all of them would now be in breach due to the strike that started May 1.

Yesterday I talked to two elevator managers about these union allegations. They said that the monthly elevator inspections are often done every two or three months if a building has no service calls.

The provincial regulator for maintaining safety standards for elevators disputes the claim and points out that only half the technicians in the province are on strike.

There is not a complete labour shutdown. Managers, supervisors and replacement workers are keeping the elevators running. All emergency calls, including elevator entrapments, are first priority while regular service calls take a lot longer than normal.

“It stands to reason that a significant number of elevators in the province are not current with their regularly scheduled maintenance requirements,” wrote Technical and Safety Standard Authority (TSSA) spokesperson Wilson Lee.
“Missing a single maintenance cycle does not necessarily mean elevators are not safe … TSSA inspectors will shut down any elevator that is deemed unsafe,” he wrote.

That seems reasonable. If your condo is running an elevator that is not safe, call TSSA online or by phone and they will investigate.

Rallying amid the soaring bank towers of the financial district, the assembled elevator maintenance workers said the office elevators were being kept in service during the strike, while elevators in seniors’ homes were going out of service.

“Seniors suffer while CEOs get priority,” said Toronto and York Region Labour Council president John Cartwright. “The companies’ priorities are all wrong.”

Oxford properties, which owns several office towers downtown, confirmed that its elevators were running normally. Spokesperson Claire McIntyre said all emergency service interruptions have been responded to within contractual obligation time lines.

Well, the elevator companies must keep their biggest and best paying customers happy. If they don't, then the elevator companies will lose those contracts to their non-union competitors and there will be few jobs for the striking technicians to return to.

However, the longer the strike lasts, the more elevator breakdowns will occur. The condos that have been saving money by skimping on their regular elevator maintenance may feel the efforts first.


New condo sale promotions
April 2013
Toronto condo sales have tanked and the builders are showing that they are worried.

In the 4th Qtr 2012 there were 3,841 condo sales in the GTA, a 47% drop from the year earlier. For 2012 there were:
24,388  new builds
56,866  under construction

So the builders are offering incentives. Free parking spots and two or three years of free condo fees are normal incentives. A couple of developments are offering units for $999 a month. Two developments are offering the old Rent-To-Own gimmick.

Then there are the hidden incentives to the real estate agents. Some developers are now offering agents 5-6% commission for selling their unsold units. That is a lot more than the 2% that a buyers agent would get on a typical resale.

Last year a couple of developers offered free ice cream to anyone who would walk into their sales offices. How long will we wait before a developer offers a free car with every purchase?


Toronto’s glass condo towers cast a shadow
January 2013
Toronto Star
Heather Mallick   columnist

The greatest quality of any city centre is its air of permanence. It’s built to last. The city should be as definitive as the city dweller is hesitant. “You’re a balloonist adrift and you need anchors to tether you down” is how travel writer Jonathan Raban described it.

I don’t have that sensation when I walk in Toronto’s downtown core. There’s so much glass beside me — who would ever wish to see inside a Cadet Cleaners? — and above me and on the endless new condo towers that the city feels like a house of glass cards.

When I have that glassy sensation in Hong Kong, it leaves me impressed by what people will invent to cope with their cramped space. In Toronto, it makes me think the city is only temporary, its condo towers looking more like the metal sheds of northern Ontario than the rock formations they should resemble.
It’s why I like walking through the St. George campus of the University of Toronto. The Gothic style is alarming but admirably emphatic. Despite the university’s recent architectural catastrophes, the older buildings are planted in the soil like a fist.

Then I look over at the detestable taupe-and-fudge-coloured condo tower at Bedford and Bloor, jutting right up against the sidewalk, built without ornament. My pity is not for the residents. They’re inside. They don’t have to look at it.

But the rest of us are stuck with hundreds of generic tinted-glass condo buildings that look like boot boxes made out of Bacardi bottles. And glass balconies, why? Who wants the world looking up their skirt? Although I notice that Torontonians don’t use their dusty balconies. With their empty little tables and chairs out there, they look like a wall of bankrupt cafés.

I care about architecture, and Canadians generally don’t. If I were Christopher Hume, the eloquent man who writes on the subject for the Star, the waterfront alone would make me stick a spike in my head. Why doesn’t he? Because he’s a critic and I’m just critical.

To paraphrase the late playwright Jean Kerr, the critic says: This is an extremely bad building — why is that? The audience says: This is an extremely bad building — why was I born?

So I trot around Toronto, resenting the hoardings sheltering the latest glass tower going up overnight. Quickie buildings are a bad idea. They look tatty almost immediately and when extreme weather caused by climate change proves that glass is a poor choice, they’ll come down. Or they won’t, which is worse.

As Philip Preville wrote damningly in Toronto Life last year on the glass tower glut, even if they’re “built with good materials and good craftsmanship, they are not energy-efficient and age quickly, often lasting only 10 years before their already-poor insulation qualities begin to deteriorate.”

What is glass good for? It breaks up the bulk materials — wood, concrete and steel — that we now use in place of wood, brick and stone, which are labour-intensive. Detail is expensive so detail is out of fashion. Ultimately the things we once considered essential are now surplus to requirements.

I’m thinking of gabled roofs, which are perfect for Canada — flat roofs are ugly and accumulate rain and snow — and windows that are proportionate to the size of the building. Charmless tower condos look like places of business, which I define as hard-surfaced rooms. Offices are made of poor secondary materials: plastic, laminate, aluminum and so on.

An office is a place where you never see a fabric curtain. Scandinavians have curtains in their offices but they value comfort. Hygge is a hard-to-translate Danish word for the feeling you have when you celebrate everyday pleasures, light a fire, sit by the ocean in summer, pour a drink for close friends. It’s like the sensation of overabundance.

Glass towers are the opposite of hygge. They’re standard and stark. They offer no genuine privacy. Even if you could throw open those huge window-walls, it’s too raw outside or horribly hot.

This is a small but significant failure of capitalism. Detached houses are beyond reach and condos aren’t hygge enough, just as flying first-class is absurd and economy too unpleasant.

Toronto needs some kind of sane, affordable middle ground, a window we could all look at — and out of — with pleasure.

A delightful read. It made me long for Jan Wong, the Globe and Mail's ex-hatchet lady who burst many a balloon.

I walk by One Bedford often and I will never look at it the same. Heather's comments about the glass balconies is dead on; I never see them being used for anything but storage.


Downloading social housing
January 2013

Glen Murray, the Liberal MPP for Toronto Centre was the first candidate to drop out of the provincial Liberal leadership race.

Future condo owners may be relieved that he did so poorly in the leadership race for one of his ideas was to add the cost of affordable housing onto the backs of the condominium developers and eventually, condo owners.

Glen realizes that the provincial government does not have the money to build new affordable housing and the public would not be pleased if taxes were raised to pay for it so he figures Queens Park could download this social problem to the private sector and have the condo industry pick up the tab.

In return for making 3 or 4% of all new condo units affordable housing, he planned to allow the developers to exceed existing building restrictions.

That way, in theory, we all win and no one ends up paying. In fact, the
owners in these new condo developments and the neighbourhoods may become the big losers.

Building restrictions limiting building heights and densities are designed for good reasons. To bend the rules for political ends erodes the credibility of the city standards.

Also, down the road long after the buildings have been turned over to the owners and expensive repairs need to be done, who will pay the increased condo fees and special assessments for the subsidized units? It will not be the builder. Will it be the government? Will it be the social agency that owns the units and rents them out? Will it be the owners who are not subsidized?

I wonder if anyone has thought that far ahead.


Possession of my resale
December 2012

We took possession of our new resale a week ago. We plan to move in at the end of this week. Two weeks to clean, paint and move over the small stuff should have been plenty.

However, my wife and I were involved in a car crash. Our car was totaled and my wife dislocated her ankle and broke her foot. That really set us back.

It has been a busy week.

I have been busy cleaning the apartment. I was disappointed at how dirty it was. I spent a half day cleaning the sides, top and back of the refrigerator. That includes washing down the wall and cleaning the floor. I found a cash register receipt dated the summer of 2007, so I know that it had not been cleaned in at least six years.

It took a further two hours to clean the inside of the refrigerator. It is a big side-by-side with more features than a top-of-the-line Cadillac.

I have cleaned all the cupboards and closets and a professional painter came in and applied two coats of white on all the hallway and bedroom ceilings and three coats in the living and dining rooms.

The previous owners had a European stove and a fume hood that they insisted on taking with them. These two special items cost them $10,000 so they would not part with them. Fine with me; nether looked like anything special in my eyes. I bought new replacements, at deep discount prices for $1200—90% cheaper that what they wanted for their used appliances.

When measuring the cabinets for the fitting of the range hood, I measured the open space in the granite countertops and was surprised to find that it was a 29-inch opening instead of the standard North American 30-inch space.

It took me a day to find someone who would come in and resize the counter opening. When the stove arrives on Friday, I know it will fit.

I also saw that the standard 220-240 volt receptacle needed for the stove plug was missing. One more deficiency that I needed to correct.

The locker room was swept out and new storage racking installed.

Today, my friend Gordon, a licenced electrician, spent the day helping me change electrical receptacles and light switches. He found a couple of missing ground wires and several plugs that were installed incorrectly.

Gordon went home with a collection of practically new grey, black, brown and green light switches, receptacles and wall covers. My apartment now has new white ones in all the bedrooms and in the hallway. We will change all the others next weekend.

After using up container of Polyfilla and a few sheets of sandpaper, I applied the first coat of wall paint in two bedrooms.

Later on, once the move is over and the pressure is off, we will paint all the walls, re-sand the wood parquet floors in the living and dining rooms, replace the flooring in the bedrooms and replace all the apartment baseboards.

In the longer run, we will renovate the bathrooms.

No regrets
We saw most of the defects that I have mentioned before we put in our offer and our purchase price took all of this work in account.

We see the potential value that is in our unit. This older building was well built and the 92 units are all large two and three bedroom units. It is very quiet building.

The condo is well managed and in healthy financial shape and the major repairs and replacements are completed when needed.

When I enter my condo, the newly refurbished lobby,  elevator cabs and the residential hallways makes it seem that I am in one of Toronto’s luxury hotels.

I am confident that my family will find living here a rewarding condo experience.


Re-sales are hitting the skids
November 2012

The media and the blogs have been reporting this for a while now. The
selling prices for small condos in the downtown towers have dropped 20% since last March.

While the sellers started holding out for their listed prices, buyers are either putting in low offers or are waiting patiently for prices to drop.

It seems that sales in the suburbs are also under pressure.

There is a very desirable condo near me where two units have been for sale for several months now. This is in a building where few units go on the market and when they do, they sell quickly.

Not now. The owners are sticking close to their asking prices and the two units aren’t moving.

Yesterday, I was talking to a bus driver who is interested in buying a condo in one of the fairly new low-rise towers on Sheppard West. She is interested in one building in particular but she is in no hurry to put in an offer.
She is waiting for the prices to drop.

Meanwhile, the developers on this strip are offering incentives to buy new units. This weekend, Portrait Condominiums at 701 Sheppard Avenue West is offering up to $20,000 off during their “Lets Make a Deal Event.” Occupancy within 30 days. Other developers on that strip are advertising “Immediate Occupancy.”

So the resales are facing a lot of competition.


It’s time Toronto gave condo dwellers a little respect
Christopher Hume
Toronto Star Columnist
October 2012

Condo dwellers get no respect in this city. Though they have taken over Toronto and brought new life to even its most benighted corner, they are routinely ignored, even scorned.

Municipal power is so skewed in favour of traditional single-family homeowners, the condo dweller barely stands a chance. At best, they figure as a statistic, a cause of congestion, crowded sidewalks, and tall buildings that shadow kids’ playgrounds.

The most obvious example of how the city overlooks this fast-growing but invisible population is transit, which in Toronto, the only place it actually makes sense, is 25 years behind the civilized world.

Instead of building the much-delayed downtown relief line to handle existing urban densities, we expand subways to the parking lots of Vaughan.

Just this week the TTC announced it had set yet another ridership record; the system has provided 510 million rides since October 2011, with 514 million expected in the next year.

Yet paralysis persists. By now it’s clear our fear of committing to transit is pathological. We have all but forgotten how to do anything other than bicker while we await the next report.

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak provided a textbook case last week when he announced that he supported subway, not LRTs, which he’d be happy to pay for “when funds are available.”

That sort of promise is no promise at all. It isn’t even meant to be. It’s code for, “Don’t worry, we’ll help get streetcars off the clogged streets of Toronto.”

Not surprisingly, Mayor Rob Ford has done the most to reverse the course of transit. He was elected, of course, largely by homeowners. It was to them Ford spoke on election night 2010, when he declared, “The war on the car is over.”

The last thing on his mind — or council’s — were the countless thousands who live in condos so they don’t have to drive two or three hours to work every day, so they can walk and bike, eat in the restaurants, shop in stores, ride the TTC and generally enjoy a 21st-century urban life.

They are the future of Canada, let alone Toronto, and yet we are barely aware of them, let alone sensitive to their needs. Councillors consider them a nuisance and, once condo dwellers couple up and have kids, developers lose interest in them.

Christopher has a point but he misses the obvious.

Politicians listen to people who vote, people who work on election
campaigns and people who contribute money to political parties. People who live in detached houses do all of this in large numbers. People who live in condos do not.

How many condo activists will work for the candidates in the next provincial election? How many will try to get the vote out in their condos?

Not many; not many at all.

When the Liberal MPPs hosted an information meeting on changes to the Condominium Act in Toronto last month, just over 100 showed up. The Sheridan campus that hosted the Mississauga meeting a week later, is surrounded by condos and yet just over 100 condo owners showed up for that one as well. I have been told it was the same at the Ottawa meeting.

Political issues that are important to condo owners will not receive much attention at city hall and Queens Park until the owners get active in municipal and provincial politics.


Ready to be noticed
September 2012

It is time to start advertising the existence of

I had leaflets and labels printed and on Thursday I will pick up a box of business cards. I will start distributing them this weekend.

So far, the site has doubled the number of pages viewed from its launch in early August to September. One reader on "The Grid" gave the site a plug. Super.

I have been working hard to get a bare-bones website up and running as there are owners in three condos, that I know of, who need some guidance with the ongoing battles they having with their boards, managers and the lawyers. It is really sad to hear what they are going through.

I may have come upon another Channel Property Management Company in the making. All the early signs are there.

I want to finish off the articles that are posted on the Condo Act Reform chapter. Then I need to clean the site up; correcting grammar errors and cleaning up any inaccuracies.

Any help I get in that department would be appreciated.

I see autumn is now upon us. In a week we went from wearing  t-shirts and shorts to winter clothes, at least when the sun goes down.

In a few weeks it will be Thanksgiving; my favourite holiday. Unlike at Christmas, we aren't looking for gifts. Instead we feast and give thanks for all we have. I think that's wonderful.


September 2012
We report with deep sadness that the CAFCOR website has been long suffering from a fatal disease and is presently dying a slow and painful death.

The exact date it will pass away is hard to determine but, barring a miracle, it should be soon. Its few remaining posters, remembering when CAFCOR forums were a source of knowledge and comfort for condo owners should hold a wake. The majority have finished mourning and have moved on.

The CAFCOR organization itself had, in effect, disbanded two years ago with the handful of founders having moved on. A couple sold out and decided that they too would make a living by joining the forces of darkness and make money off of condo owners.

Not interested in carrying on, they were too suspicious of newcomers to recruit and train successors.

By its very structure, a condo owner's activist group has to continually attract and train replacements for the existing members who sell their units or replace their boards and property companies and lose interest in condo problems that do not directly affect them. CAFCOR could not, or would not, carry out this basic requirement for all organizations.

All that remains is a chat line—a shell of  its former self—suffering from an unexplainable inability to censor a destructive cyberbully who drives away the few remaining bloggers.

A couple of years ago, this cyberbully's behaviour on the Canadian Condominium Institute's "Hot Stove" website caused CCI to shut the forum down for a year. Since it re-opened, it allows postings only from its members.

Ordinary condo owners lost an excellent venue to have their questions answered.

The Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario (ACMO) had "Discussion Forums" on its website. The public is invited to post their questions and views. The postings are reviewed prior to them being posted causing a delay.

With this cyberbully cruising the web, including ACMO's site, it is a prudent if a slightly inconvenient, precaution.

Here are a few recent examples of unchecked bullying:

"You can see how some can fold under a vigorous and determined cross-examination, even here!"

"If anyone has the printouts of the missing confessions - let me know."

"Instead of bring resources for CAFCOR to grow and help others, you advertise secret meetings with unknow strangers in dark and dreary places, for unknow purposes to plot against those you don't like."

"When do we get the real report on the condo, not the comedy show in the halls and elevators? No policians and news crews show up?"

"How long have these imaginery friends been emailing?"

"Back to your original question. Masel...Aren't you afraid of getting caught? What might the consequences be? For our audience: What should the consequences be?"

"What amazes us all, is that you have the balls, to come to an owners reform forum, and brag about what you think you got away with."

"If more bodies through the skylight will prove the board is reckless, what is holding you back?"

In retaliation, posters hurl insults back at the cyberbully resulting in forums that resemble graffiti in a grade-school washroom.

Surprisingly, when the posters get out of line, the site administrator reprimands them or removes their postings giving the cyberbully licence to continue on.

So what should be done?

The forums should be closed and the best questions and replies over the last three years retained on the web, sorted by topic and made available for any condo owner that is looking for credible information.

Alternatively, CAFCOR reinvents itself and appoints an administrator who will monitor the postings and promptly remove all offensive material from the site as and when required.

As it remains now, the CAFCOR forums are a determent to condo owner activism.


Simplycondos blog

August 2012

Charles Hanes writes about Hogtown’s condo market and his regular postings should not be missed. Read this recent excerpt:
“These days the market is so overwhelmed with exploitive, unethical and downright shoddy developer offerings that you literally have no idea what you are going to get.  Many of the more recent developments, like Murano on the Bay Corridor, One Bedford in the Yorkville/Annex area, Festival Tower in the Entertainment District and virtually all of the Cityplace developments (Matrix, Apex, Optima, Harbourview Estates, to name but a few) are all experiencing significant material construction deficiencies from balcony glass walls plummeting down dozens of floors onto the side walks below, moisture barrier deficiencies, etc., leading to multi-million dollar law suits initiated by condo corporations against developers.

Oh, there are still a limited number of quality developments and developers developing condo sites but the decided majority couldn't build a reputation let alone a building and 100% of the burden of their inability to do what they are supposed to do rests on the shoulders of you, the consumer, who are led to believe that they are building dream towers when all they are really doing is manifesting nightmares!”

Charles informs us that poor workmanship caries a real price tag.

The owners at 222 The Esplanade East have been hit recently with a special assessment of between $13,000 and $20,000 each and the 24 owners of a condo conversion in a west end condo will share a $1,000,000 special assessment. This comes after some of the board members of that four-year old conversion kept the bad news from the owners and sold their units prior to the special assessment being announced.

Charles names names and he exposes condo building defects. This is a blog that owners and anyone wanting to buy a condo needs to read.


Free ice cream?
July 2012
This was posted this morning on Garth Turner's website: The Greater Fool.

As soon as I saw Minto’s showroom just east of Yonge on Sheppard for the new condos at 88 Sheppard East six months ago, I knew they would never break ground, but today proves it.

They now have a huge sign outside offering FREE ICE CREAM if you come inside. I kid you not.


The high price for parking
July 2012
Recently on a condo website, a condo owner complained that her newly elected board was now allowing owners to park in the Visitor's Parking lot. The new president parked her car there as it was closer to her unit than her parking spot.

This will not be a problem at two new mixed-use condominium developments being built on the corner of Avenue Road and Yorkville. They won't have any complementary visitor parking spots.

These luxury condos cost up to $1000 a square foot. The cheapest unit at the Yorkville Plaza development starts at $350,000 for a 350 square foot bachelor.

That price does not include a parking space. A parking spot costs $73,000 a pop. (It costs roughly $35,000 to build an underground parking spot so that is quite a markup.)

A different development will have 883 residential units, 3,555 square metres of commercial space but only 278 parking spots. The proposed new condo across the street will also have commercial units, 342 residential units and only 247 parking spots.

Some spots will be rented. The going rate in this area is $375 a month to rent a parking spot under a condo but it is about $260 a month in the nearby commercial underground parking lots.

The city planners greatly reduce the number of required parking spots if the condo is close to a subway station or a streetcar line.

The RCMI project consisting of one bedroom units, that is presently being built on University Avenue, will have no parking at all.

Not all residents in the expensive Yorkville area have to walk to the commercial parking lots to get their cars. A couple of the existing condos have valet parking. It is one of the amenities that the owners' $1,600 to $1,800 a month common expenses pays for.

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