Condo News

Bad luck or no luck at all
29 October 2012

Some condos, like some people, have bad luck or no luck at all.

On Saturday 27 October 2012, just after 3:00 pm, the residents living on the seven top floors of the condo at 4091 Sheppard Avenue East were evacuated by Toronto Police following the discovery of a drug lab in a unit on the 18th floor. The police were concerned that the chemicals might explode.

The residents were not allowed back into their homes until Sunday morning.

I wrote more details on this incident in the Condo Living chapter.

Four months and four kilometres away, the police shutdown two drug labs in the condo at 190 Borough Drive.

This is the second time this two-tower condo corporation made the news. In January 2011, the CBC broke the story of a brothel that had been operating in one of the units for the previous ten years.

Residents did complain to their board of directors and to the police but to no avail. However, after the CBC aired the story on prime-time news, the police raided the body-rub parlor (brothel) and shut it down.

These problems can happen in any condominium. New condos are just as likely to be hit with bad luck as the older ones.

Any corporation that has a large percentage of absentee owners may find that they are hosts to tenants from hell. Not all owners properly screen their tenants so unfortunately all the owners may be hit with lower property values when these problems hits the news.

A vigilant property manager and board of directors ,who react quickly and effectively, when deviant residents are first identified are the owners best defense against careless owners and tenants from hell.


Investors move to sidelines as Toronto condo market cools
Toronto Star
Susan Pigg
23 October 2012

Toronto condo developers are seeing a dramatic downturn in investor interest in new projects — more than 30 to 40 per cent in just the last few months — as the condo market cools.

Some developers are quietly talking about a 50 per cent downturn as investors, who have fuelled much of Toronto’s condo boom over the last five years, head for the sidelines.

The sudden drop in investor interest has sent shock waves through the industry because, just since 2007, investors have come to dominate the GTA condo market.

Last year, they accounted for an estimated 60 to 65 per cent of the 28,000 pre-construction condo purchases across the GTA, and some 75 to 95 per cent of pre-construction purchases in downtown Toronto, says Ben Myers, executive vice president of market research firm Urbanation.

Until five years ago, less than 30 per cent of Toronto’s new condos were bought by investors, he adds.

“Things have definitely slowed,” he adds. “I do anticipate that pricing is going to be fairly flat in both the new and resale condo market for six or seven months. After that, it becomes a little hard to predict what will happen.”

Currently, there are 196 projects and 52,695 units under construction across the GTA, 89 per cent of them pre-sold.

But a staggering 240,000 more units have been proposed — the equivalent of all the condos built across the GTA since 1968, according to Urbanation.

The slowdown in sales since spring, and the rising inventory of unsold units, which is now up to about 18,000, have caused some developers to delay launches. Many of those 240,000 condos — 16 years’ worth of supply — will never go ahead.

That’s why all eyes are focused on three big, bellwether projects that launched sales in October: Tridel’s 65-storey, 695-unit Ten York project near Toronto’s waterfront; Empire Communities’ two-tower, 1,250-unit Eau du Soleil development on the Etobicoke waterfront; and the 44- and 48-storey King Blue project in the Entertainment District.

Condo Board Blahs
A condo owner's blog about her new puppy and her battle with the condo board. No matter how hard she tried to be a good neighbour, it was not enough for the board.

Why was she given such a hard time? The neighbour below her is one of the directors.


McGuinty resigns:
The self-inflicted death of Dalton McGuinty’s bold agenda
Toronto Star
Thomas Walkom—National Affairs Columnist
16 October 2012

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is heading for the hills. And he’s shutting down the legislature to make sure no one catches up.

That, in a nutshell, is the meaning of Monday evening’s surprise two-pronged announcement. (To read the full column.)

McGuinty is quitting as premier. More important, he’s proroguing the legislature indefinitely — a desperate action that suggests that there are still more scandals, as yet unrevealed, waiting to torpedo the minority Liberal government.

It am afraid that along with losing our Premier, the shutting down the legislature may mean losing this opportunity to change the Condominium Act. I am sure the Liberals will be too busy getting ready for a leadership convention to worry about condos while the other two parties, smelling blood, may see this as an opportunity to force another election.


Lawsuits launched over Calgary condo renovation
CBC News
15 October 2012

Condo owners in a downtown Calgary highrise have launched a lawsuit over a troubled parkade renovation.

City officials temporarily ordered people out of the lower levels of Rocky Mountain Court in July after an inspection of the second level of the parkade found its integrity was compromised during renovations.

The 29-storey building on Sixth Avenue S.E. has businesses on the main floor and condos above.

Condo owners, who pitched in more than $3 million on further repairs, are now suing Durwest Construction Systems and Williams Engineering Canada Inc. In statements of defence, both companies say they did nothing wrong, and that the other made mistakes.

The owners of about eight condemned family businesses on the main floor have launched a separate suit against the condo board who hired the companies.

“The anger inside of me is definitely high,” said Reena Vadan, who owns a Mediterranean restaurant that has been closed since July. “It's time for people to step up and take responsibility for what they have done to us.”

The city launched an investigation into Rocky Mountain Court after a complaint from a concerned citizen. An engineer eventually declared the elevator, lobby and exit corridor safe, which allowed residents to remain in their condos, but businesses on the main floor of the building, including a barber shop, several restaurants and a convenience store, remained close.


Access to Ontario's legal system
Toronto Star
09 October 2012
Ellen Roseman
This consumer awareness column is about a book that describes how the middle class in Ontario is shut out of civil justice due to the high cost of litigation.

The book, Middle Income Access to Justice (University of Toronto Press), describes the problem and offers possible solutions.

The complete column can be found on this website at "Access to Justice".


Social isolation is biggest concern for residents, Vancouver
survey finds

Toronto Star
08 October 2012
Petti Fong—Western Canada Bureau

Recent research by the Vancouver Foundation found that social isolation was the single largest concern for residents in the metro Vancouver region, a surprise to many community organizers like Dave Meslin, who thought homelessness or housing affordability would rank higher.

The concerns raised by the research findings and a summit, Alone Together: Connecting in the City, the first of its kind in Canada, prompted one Vancouver city councillor to propose a council motion creating an Engaged City Task Force.

Denise Rudnicki, the foundation’s director of strategic engagement, said the negative attitudes that stem from loneliness — such as feeling less trusting of others or a lack of cohesion with neighbours — can spread within a community.

“This survey held up a mirror in the community and everyone could see themselves in it,” she said. “When people have regular conversations with their neighbours, more than just a smile or a wave, those neighbourhoods are safer, there’s less crime and people feel much more optimistic about the possibility of working with each other to solve local problems.”

The survey also found that people who live in highrises over five storeys had a diminished level of trust, putting the onus on developers, especially in the dense downtown Vancouver areas, to figure out ways to engage residents. Simple things such as putting shared laundry facilities near a rooftop garden may be one way to foster engagement in the residential silos.

Twenty-five per cent of people surveyed said they felt lonely in metro Vancouver and one in three said they found it hard to make new friends in the community. One person wrote that in the seven years he’s lived in Vancouver after moving to the West Coast for a job, he has never been asked to go out for a beer.

The Four Seasons is Open
Last Friday, Toronto’s new Four Seasons Hotel opened its doors on the north-east corner of Bay and Yorkville.

The contemporary hotel-condo complex is a stark contrast to the old hotel that was two blocks to the west which, in Isadore Sharp’s own words, “felt like driving into a garage.”

This new complex features 259 hotel rooms and 210 high-end condos, 110 in a 26-storey east tower.

The Four Seasons Residences has set two Canadian records. Its penthouse sold for a record $28 million to an international buyer and its pre-construction condos set a new record at $1,200 per square foot.

New condos in Yorkville sell for $1000 per square foot while most new developments in Toronto are selling for $750 per square foot.


Manzoor Khan found guilty of fraud
On 29 September 2012, in Superior Court, Justice Brown found that the evidence overwhelmingly established that Khan orchestrated a massive fraud against MTCC # 710 by using Channel and other related companies to invoice MTCC # 710 for work which was never performed.

MTCC # 710 was awarded a total of $1,332,943.78 in damages and $105,876.19 in costs.

Manzoor Khan and his companies did not defend the action.

This weekend, I will post an article with more details on the court findings in the Corruption chapter on this website.


As housing market slows, industry scrambles to paint positive picture
Financial Post
Garry Marr
03 October 2012

Organized real estate is unable, it seems, to admit the glory days may be
behind it.

Sales plummet in major markets and the industry comes up with a new explanation for the decline, draping its comments with a sense that everything is just fine. The excuses are piling up.

This month’s gem comes from the Toronto Real Estate Board: It complained September didn’t have enough working days — too many weekends.

David Madani, an economist at Capital Economics, chuckles at some of the language used in real estate circles.

“It’s a bit lame,” says the notorious bear on the housing market.
“The answer is to ignore what they are saying. Sales are plummeting in Toronto and Vancouver. I say get used to this because this is going to go on for a couple of years. Our view is a 25% price decline.”

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