home  contents   news archives   newer   older 

"Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed.
 Everything else is public relations."
—George Orwell


Search the CondoMadness website:
Condo News
25 Feb 2019

In a hurricane even turkeys can soar
A few years ago, I started tracking the selling prices for units in troubled condo corporations in the GTA. These buildings suffered from serious political infighting, neglected maintenance and most had obvious major building defects. Three of them went into court-appointed administration.

The prices were as low as $40-50,000 (power of sales) for two-bedroom apartments. These buildings, at least the ones that were not in administration, were on their last legs, or so I thought.

In the GTA, over the last four years, units in well-run condos appreciated by up to 200%. I figured that the troubled condos would appreciate far less than that. I was wrong.

I just finished comparing the latest selling prices at these condos to the selling prices from four years ago. The results were so surprising that I checked the pricing for 13 distressed condo corporations to verify what I was seeing.

The prices of these troubled condos increased from a low of 174% to a high of 486%. These are astonishing increases.

What is more interesting is the change in their monthly maintenance expenses. Although they were all have a desperate need for more money, two condos lowered their fees, four "enjoyed" zero fee increases, and three condos raised their fees at levels lower than the rate of inflation.

Only three condos raised their fees more than the inflation rate.

Increase in selling price
Increase in fees

Why the high price increases?
There are two reasons.

The prices of free-hold houses in the Toronto area rose so high that they have become unaffordable for most purchasers. People who would love a detached house have been forced to lower their expectations.

As a result, the prices of quality condos doubled in the last five years. They too have became unaffordable.

Buyers who can only afford $400,000 or less and want a two-bedroom unit have to buy a unit in these detoriated corporations. The troubled condos jumped up in price because their sales increased.

The second reason is that many investors look for bargains. They will buy a cheap condo unit if it is close to a university or community college. They can rent out individual rooms to students.

From a recent MLS listing. Note that it is near Humber College.

The low purchasing prices makes it possible to make a profit off the rents—if they overcrowd the unit—and on top of that, they will also enjoy far higher profits from capital gains.

So high condo prices helped the lowest levels of the market far more than it helped the highest. Who would have ever guessed?

So if my condo president brags about what a great job he did in almost doubling our selling prices, I will tell him that if he was really great, our prices would have gone up 400%.

Condo News
22 Feb 2019

Are St. James Town highrises an early warning for city's aging apartment buildings?
Toronto's highrises are home to half a million people and the state of these buildings — the bulk of which were built in the 1950s to late 1970s — is under scrutiny after high-profile problems have left thousands scrambling to find somewhere to stay.

This week, the City of Toronto ordered the water, heat and power shut off at 280 Wellesley St. E. so the apartment building could be thoroughly inspected. The shutdown lasted more than 48 hours.

"We will go in and do an evaluation of that building based upon 20 different areas and we look at cleanliness, elevator functionality, cleanliness in the hallways, the lobbies, the doors to the exterior, if intercom systems are all functional and working and if the grounds are maintained," he said.

Often superficial problems, such as a lack of cleanliness, could mean bigger problems with the electrical system or safety infrastructure, he said.

"When we identify a building that fails its evaluation and is not in fact being maintained, then we will do what we call a complete audit of that building," he said.

A dirty building is something the inspectors look for. In many condos, it is surprising how few condo residents realize that their common areas are dirty.

The only other thing I can add is don't forget the older condo towers. Many of them have been kicking major repairs down the road for decades now.

Toronto condo owners asked for their dog’s DNA to solve poop problem
Property managers have long struggled with tracking down irresponsible pet owners. To curb the problem, some are turning to companies that catalog dog DNA and use stinky samples to identify delinquent dog owners.

What is a prankster brings in random dog poop from the local park? A lot of DNA costs with no results.

Police search for gunman after shooting leaves 2 in life-threatening condition
As more and more people live in condos, all of the city's troubles moves in with them.

This shooting incident happened in a condo that is just south of Yorkdale Mall.

Montrealer using Smart car to plow snow in Saint-Henri
Montrealer Frank Espina has come up with a unique and clever solution to clear snow at his condo building in Saint-Henri — attach a plow to a Smart car.

Calgary condo owners, facing millions in repair bills, find out their builder isn't who they thought it was
Don't ever buy a pre-built condos.

Remarks from readers
Renee Edison
Our condo in Sage Hill is going through this exact same situation! Except our condos are only 4 years old, and our assessments are at least $35,000 each! Passed city inspections and everything, then was found to have safety violations and deficiencies...

Marcin Majczak
We know! The most important Factors in Canadian Construction are Envelope and Structure.
Disaster become when quality of these factors are bridged!
If "live quality" take a place and concerned your attention? Ask a

Brian Fitzgibbon
As a former condo owner and condo board director I have a word of advice. NEVER EVER buy a condo in Canada. Condos pay the same taxes as other residential properties but do not receive the same services by the city. Condo fees go up and up to cover the services not received by the city in addition to building up a reserve fund for future owners. Special assessments for unexpected maintenance not covered by the reserve fund are made to your detriment. In addition condo boards look after their own needs first. Condo boards often hire lawyers to litigate problems. Lawyers charge $300. an hour for phone calls. You do the math. It doesn't take long to spend everyone's monthly condo fee.

Condo News
17 February 2019

Residents of condo tower where woman threw chair off balcony say short-term rentals are not a problem
Over the years, the behaviour of short-term renters has raised concerns in Toronto, but most residents at Maple Leafs Square Condo were indifferent or expressed mild concern over it.

On Thursday, the Star spent four hours at the condo’s lobby and two main entrances, speaking to residents and observing as individuals and small groups of people entered and exited, some with their suitcases. About a dozen people, including a couple who said they had just landed from Paris, said they were staying in Airbnb units.

Dozens of residents who spoke to the Star said they know a large number of units in their building are used as Airbnb. But they said disturbing incidents are rare and most people staying in Airbnb rentals are generally polite.

“Honestly, it doesn’t bother me,” said Stella Cabrera, who has lived at the building for nearly a year. Two units next to hers are used by short-term renters. She said she understands the convenience of Airbnb in the area, which lies near entertainment venues. Hotels are expensive there.

Ivonne Flores, a recent graduate and a resident of Maple Leafs Square for the past two years, sometimes feels “uncomfortable” seeing strangers strolling in the building, which happens especially on weekends. Apart from the drinking and partying that tend to happen in Airbnb rentals, major incidents of concern are few, she said.

“That chair thing was the first, and it was surprising that everyone was making such a big deal about it,” she said.

The property manager said: “Right now, we’re working very hard with the police on this, and trying to keep our profile as low as possible, as you can imagine.”

I am not surprised to hear condo owners saying short-term rentals are not a problem. Condo owners worry about property values (for many it is the only thing they worry about) so it is natural for them to deny there are problems.

A second issue is that most residents don't know what is going on in the building. The management and board of directors hide as much negative information as they can: from the residents and the public.

If you want to know the truth, talk to the renters—the ones who don't have a financial stake in the building. Even better, talk to a disillusioned director who know what is going on or to the security guards.

Hanging around a condo lobby for four hours doesn't sound like much investigative journalism to me.

Condo News
15 February 2019

Early condo living

That was then
Condo owners call on city to rein in Airbnb
CBC News
18 August 2016 (abridged)

Tensions are rising in the corridors of Toronto's condo buildings as some owners look to cash in by listing their units on short-term rental sites like Airbnb, while others are calling on the city to step in and stop them.

"We constantly get complaints," said Linda Pinizzotto, who is president of her downtown condo board and the head of the Toronto-based Condo Owners Association.

Pinizzotto says the constant come-and-go of Airbnb guests is turning her building into a de-facto hotel.

"They knock on a resident's door asking if they can borrow salt, they complain because they can't find coffee machines," she said.  "It's unbelievable."

It's a bomb that's going to explode down the road if we continue to allow this type of thing without proper legislation.
—Linda  Pinizzotto , President, Condo Owners Association

Increased traffic from short-term rentals is also leading to higher utility bills and greater wear-and-tear on common areas, according to Pinizzotto.

"These buildings were not made to be hotels, they were made to be primary residences," she said. "The value of these buildings will decrease if the maintenance fees go up too high."

"It's a bomb that's going to explode down the road if we continue to allow this type of thing without proper legislation."

Advocacy group wants regulations
But it's the bad experiences that are driving owners like Pinizzotto to push for municipal regulations, such as the law that prevents owners from renting their properties for periods of less than 30 days in New York City.

The COA is a member of Fairbnb, which describes itself as "a national coalition concerned about the proliferation of short-term rentals in cities across Canada." It also has links with the Union for Hospitality Workers in the GTA.

This is now

Now Linda is an Airbnb Superhost.

So if you are looking to short-term rent a downtown condo unit, perhaps you would like to get in touch with her or Derrick.

Condo News
14 February 2019

Police seek public's help in ID'ing woman in video that shows her tossing chair off condo balcony
Police are asking for the public's help in identifying a young woman who threw a chair and other items from an upper floor of a downtown Toronto condo building. 

A video posted on the weekend on Facebook with the caption "good morning" shows the woman taking a peek over the balcony, and then throwing a folding chair onto the Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Boulevard below.

The woman who is believed to have been filmed this weekend throwing chairs off the balcony of a high-in-the-sky Toronto condo unit has turned herself in, according to police.

Are St. James Town highrises an early warning for city's aging apartment buildings?
Toronto's highrises are home to half a million people and the state of these buildings — the bulk of which were built in the 1950s to late 1970s — is under scrutiny after high-profile problems have left thousands scrambling to find somewhere to stay.

Not enough scrutiny I would argue. I keep expecting building evacuations in a number of older condos in the GTA. They are coming but none have been condemned so far. Why? Not yet a priority for municipal building inspectors.

Woman in life-threatening condition after Etobicoke shooting
A woman is fighting for her life in hospital after a shooting in Etobicoke early Sunday, Toronto police say.

Emergency crews were called to the area of Lake Shore Boulevard West and Park Lawn Road in the Humber Bay area at 6:50 a.m. Police had received several calls about the sound of gunfire.

How Airbnb is squeezing Toronto’s housing market
Three years ago, she and her husband Kevin and their four-year-old daughter called a four-storey townhouse in downtown Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood “home.” During that time, Brezina (pictured above with her family) said someone bought up a number of homes around her and began listing them all on Airbnb and another service called FlipKey rentals—with her family sandwiched between them. She recalls her residential street being overrun by temporary guests––more often than not, “people from the 905 coming into town to party” along with “charter buses [pictured below] pulling up and emptying everyone” onto neighbouring properties.

Condo manager warned of sagging balcony months before collapse
OTTAWA: "With the cold weather upon us, snow cannot be far behind," Fitzgerald wrote. "I worry that the weight of the snow could cause the above balcony to collapse onto ours. Can you please let me know when the job will be completed?"

Goleta hotel worker behind bars after police find drug lab inside Marriott boiler room
A 37-year-old maintenance worker is in custody this week after authorities said he set up a secret drug lab inside a hotel where he worked in Goleta, Calif.

Employees at the Courtyard by Marriott on Storke Road called police shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday when they discovered suspicious chemicals in the hotel’s boiler room, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

Does the manager or the directors conduct regular inspections of all your condo's maintenance roooms? You too may find a surprise.

Phoenix HOA manager imprisoned for taking $1.3M from homeowners associations, officials say
Harlow White, 77, of Gilbert, was sentenced Friday to 15 months in prison for stealing the money, which was used, in part, to cover approximately $300,000 in personal charges on his American Express credit card, officials said.

White was the president and CEO of Eagle Property Management, Inc. The company was later called EPMI when ownership transferred to White's daughter.

"Between January 2010 and May 2014, EPMI — with White’s knowledge stole at least $1.2 million directly from HOA clients’ bank accounts," the release said.

'We've reached a crisis point': Experts decry Canberra building industry
The overwhelming majority of high-rise apartment buildings in Canberra are likely to have major defects, industry experts have estimated, with one warning the territory's construction industry has reached "crisis point".

Experts in engineering, waterproofing and strata law have told The Canberra Times that structural and design flaws would, in their estimations, exist in most new high-rise developments in the nation's capital, ranging from minor to more significant.

'Extreme lengths to avoid detection': Illegal rooming house operators becoming more sophisticated
Melbourne City Council has revealed the difficulties its officers face in attempting to tackle illegal rooming practices, as operators use more sophisticated methods to avoid detection.

"Sometimes, what you'll find is shift workers rotating on the same bed, one will sleep there at night and one will come home from work and sleep there early in the morning when the other one leaves.

"If you have 10 beds in an apartment where people are doing that then you can just imagine how many people are coming in and out of there," Mr Raff said.

'Uninhabitable': Geocon settles lawsuit over alleged defective home
Another very good reason not to buy a pre-construction condo unit.

Concrete cancer and informing all owners
Concrete cancer (deteriorating concrete) is classed as a building defect and therefore needs to be disclosed to insurers as part of the owners corporations Duty of Disclosure. Failure to notify an insurer of a pre-existing defect such as concrete cancer may mean that in certain circumstances the Insurer is entitled to avoid the contract altogether or the Insurer may be entitled to reduce liability in respect of a claim to the amount that would place the insurer in a position in which the insurer would have been if the failure had not occurred or the misrepresentation had not been made.

Condo News
10 February 2019

Residents sick of condo neighbours vomiting, tossing bottles, bones, cigarette butts onto balconies
Toronto: Kalisperas says some residents with units overlooking the Graphic Arts roof started throwing their cigarette butts and garbage over their balconies. "We're worried. This building is partly wood. It's combustible," he said.

Condo balconies collapse in Ottawa, city investigating
The city of Ottawa is investigating after a trio of condo balconies collapsed Monday morning in a “pancake effect,” officials said.

Tips for owners requisitioning meetings
Requisition meetings can be a source of anxiety for many directors, managers, and owners. In my experience, the conduct of the parties during the preliminary steps of the requisition process can exacerbate the anxiety and cause a great deal tension, hostility, and bickering at the meeting.

Is this condo rule legal?
Owners can also propose a rule
While the most common method for a rule to come to be is after having been voted in and circulated by the board, it is to be noted that owners can requisition a meeting to vote on a rule of their own (or to vote to amend or repeal a rule) even if it does not emanate from the board.  Such a requisition must be supported by at least 15% of the registered owners.  Assuming quorum is reached, the rule proposed by owners will be adopted if a majority of the owners participating to such a meeting does not defeat it.

Safety compliance for condo corporations
The general duty clause therefore requires all employers, whether they are condos, property managers, property management companies, contractors or service providers to the condominium industry to “take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances” using the Act and Regulations, along with precautions to address each working circumstance.

Government recommendations don't apply to short-term rentals
BC: There are no plans or indications by government to limit or change a strata corporation’s ability to prohibit short-term rentals as short-term rentals have been a significant cause for loss of rental units in strata buildings.

Simpsonville man's dispute with HOA may lead to jail time
A homeowner in Simpsonville is facing potential jail time after haggling with his homeowners association about a shed on his property and related court fees for nearly two years.
I am glad that the board talked to the reporter. Great to hear their side.

Negligent security case costs association and management company significant money
Recently, a Florida condo board was sued by an owner who was stabbed twelve times by another resident. The board of directors claimed to be unaware that a tenant in the community was harassing and stalking women. The board further claimed that the manager failed to share that vital information with them.

Burst radiator heating pipe leads to extensive property damage
On Friday January 6, 2018, I sent an email to management about not enough heat in unit 205. Prior to informing management, we learned that many other units also reported receiving insufficient heat. In any event, management dismissed our concern, saying the building’s heat is running at full capacity without any problems. Less than 48 hours after I sent the email to management, the radiator pipe in unit 701 burst.

Government warned design flaw left Canberra apartments at risk of fire
The ACT government was warned in 2013 of a "very disturbing" design and construction practice apparent in at least six Canberra apartment buildings, including the Elara complex, which posed a potentially significant risk to residents' safety, The Canberra Times can reveal.

Shifting services costs and secret profits – Owners getting shafted
New South Wales—It has become increasingly common for developers to pursue a development in such a way that owners corporations and lot owners are locked in to using various service providers or paying what amount to deferred development costs.

Arson suspected in Paris apartment building fire leaving at least 10 dead
The firefighter and his girlfriend told officers they were leaving to go sleep elsewhere in peace and warned them that the neighbour had lost her mind and one day there would be an accident because of her, according to a police report seen by The Associated Press.

Condo News
04 February 2019

Time to file your 2019 CAO condo returns
Ontario: Deadline is Sunday 31 March 2019.

Toronto city budget process
Staff also recommended a 10-cent TTC fare increase, a 2.2 per cent increase for garbage collection and a 3 per cent water rate increase.

Let the CAT out of the bag
An excellent article on Ontario's Condominium Authority Tribunal and why it is time to expand the types of disputes it can hear.

Canadian household borrowing rates resume rise
Canadian households face higher borrowing costs, despite the lack of policy rate hike. Bank of Canada numbers show the weekly effective interest rate for households reached an almost 10 year high. The increase comes after the effective rate had stalled for six weeks.

Cheap entry into the landlord business

This older condo townhouse, up in northern Etobicoke, sold for $334,500. For that price, it appears that the new owner can:
1. Move in & rent the basement.
2. Move in & rent the basement & a bedroom.
3. Move in and rent FIVE bedrooms to students.
There is definitely a profit that can be had here. It helps that the other condo owners are willing to subsidize this "private business".

Condo burglar arrested after crashing in snowbank
WIinnipeg— Thieves broke into a condominium complex on Creek Bend Road, breaking into several vehicles in the parkade and stealing one, using a spare key that had been left in the car.

Treasurer should be reviewing strata (condo) transactions
Sounds so obvious but a lot of  condo treasurers don't do much.

The doorbells have eyes: The privacy battle brewing over home security cameras
Condo residents may find that security cameras in their units are a very good idea. Break-ins are on the increase.

Residents upset over piles of trash in their condo complex
Florida— Trash that hasn't been picked up has local condo residents disgusted.

HOA, condo & co-op corruption and fraud roundup (Jan 2019)
Condo corruption and fraud is an ongoing problem. It will never end.

Can we avoid strata (condo) manager insurance commissions?
Another article about Australian condo managers getting commissions on building insurance policies. Three points here: 1. they have to disclose the fact that they are getting the commissions & 2. what is the incentive to hunt for lower rates? Finally, what are the practices here in Canada?

China's fastest subway train to run in September

TCC subway plans got to back to the drawing board. Scarborough gotta get some of these driver-less 160km an hour babies. Why settle for 2nd best?

Boy puts lit fireworks down manhole cover, blows up sidewalk
Watch the video right to the end. Sewer gas is dangerous.