Condo News
February 2013

Special Condo Information Meeting
04 October 2013

Ontario MPPs receive a lot of requests for help from condo owners in their ridings and Mississauga East MPP Dipika Damerla is no exception. However, she is unusual in the amount of support she gives to her condo consituents.

On Thursday evening, 03 October 2013, Dipika held a two hour long Condo Special Information Meeting for condo owners and residents. Gerry Hyman, a noted condo lawyer and columnist for the Toronto Star answered questions about condominium legal issues.

The turnout was far higher than was expected so the location had to be moved to accommodate everyone.

Gerry listed the different steps that the owners could take if they have a dispute with their board. However, he stated, that if the board does not act properly, the owners are in a bad position.

Most of the owners' questions dealt with  disputes with the boards and the managers. The questions were read out and Gerry answered them fully and clearly.

Here were some of the owner's concerns:

Water leaking from a unit above. The owner had to pay for plumbing repairs that were later found to have originated in a different unit. The board is refusing to reimburse him his costs and it is possible they have fabricated their plumber's report.

An owner, who rents out her unit is not getting the utility records from the condo in time to file her income tax form.

For three years an owner had insufficient current feeding his stove. The board said that it was problem within his unit. The owner hired an electrician who found that the breaker in the hallway closet was defective. He had to pay to have the breaker repaired.

Two elevators have been out of service for some time. When the owners complain, they are told that the condo doesn't have the money to fix then but the owner who has the complaint can pay to have them repaired.
owners are threatened with being charged with trespass if they go into the management office to report problems.

They also receive threatening letters from the condo's lawyer if they ask individual board members questions in the elevators or hallways.

A superintendent does not do his work duties but is protected by the board.

Three members of the board meet privately, agree on what their position is and then pass their motions at the board meetings without allowing the two other directors from having their say.

The thirty-year old windows in one condo are leaking but the board spends money on a new games room and builds a gym that few use rather than replace the windows.

There were a lot of complaints about proxies. One condo lawyer told an owner that it was illegal for him to collect proxies and hold them until the registration desk opens at the AGM. The proxies must be submitted to the management office prior to the meeting so the management can do a quality check to insure there are no spoiled ballots.

In reality, the manager tells owners, one-on-one, to change their proxy and select a "better" qualified candidate.

The meeting ended with a discussion on the owner's rights to talk to their neighbours and solicit proxies.
At this very informative meeting, Dipika and Gerry received applause from the appreciative owners.


Elevator technicians strike is over 
01 July 2013

The union and the employers have negotiated an agreement. The strike is over and all the workers will be back to work by Wednesday 10 July 2013.


Rogers launches realty search site 
Toronto Star
By: Susan Pigg
22 May 2013

Rogers Communications is set to take on Canada’s real estate industry with a dramatically revamped online and mobile search engine,, that could put more than 300,000 properties and thousands of carefully vetted agents within a quick click of consumers by summer.

For now, the site includes every property for sale across the GTA, as well as a directory of some 200 top-tier agents.

By summer, the one-stop real estate shopping site is expected to feature links to more than 300,000 properties listed for sale on the MLS system across Canada, as well as thousands of top-producing agents selected from every major city.

“We really want to make sure that consumers get that exceptional experience,” says realtor and lawyer Lawrence Dale, group head of real estate business for Zoocasa.

“This gives consumers a much better way to connect with qualified realtors who have been vetted for their experience, their productivity and their local knowledge. They’ll know that Zoocasa stands behind each agent included in their directory and that there will be ongoing consumer support throughout any transactions.”

There will be cash and gift-card rebates from retailers such as Home Depot and Canadian Tire for both buyers and sellers — about $2,000 worth per $550,000 transaction — as well as a vast array of Rogers products and services to eventually choose from. Zoocasa will receive a portion of sales commissions.

Many of the GTA’s top realtors and brokerages have signed on as partners in

 “If it’s done correctly, which I believe it will be, there will be a very elite group of realtors who believe in service and quality and putting their clients before themselves,” says Pam Prescott, a realtor for decades and owner of Century 21 Heritage, whose top agents will be part of the Zoocasa roster.

The benefit to realtors is simple: leads.

Most realtors spend 70 per cent of their time looking for buyers and sellers and just 30 per cent of their time actually accessing their needs, taking them to see properties and transacting deals, says Prescott.

This story is really an info-ad but I have checked out the site and it has a nice search feature
that allows you to look by price and neighbourhood.


Toronto real estate: Condo rents hit record high 
Toronto Star
Susan Pigg
May 2013

Would-be first-time homebuyers are fuelling such unprecedented demand for rental condos across the GTA, they’ve helped push average rents to a record $1,856 per month, says a new report by condo research firm Urbanation.

Since mortgage lending rules were tightened last July, pushing many first-time buyers to the sidelines, demand for rental condos has skyrocketed, says the report released Tuesday.

The number of condos leased via the MLS jumped 31 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 over the same period a year earlier.

Rents have climbed 10 per cent just in the last two years, the report notes, after a decade of largely flat or minimal increases.

“For the first time in a long time, we’re seeing rent levels grow stronger than resale and new condo prices,” says Shaun Hildebrand, senior vice president of Urbanation and a former market analyst with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, who has watched the rental market closely for years.

“What we’re seeing is investors who are recognizing that the real strength in the market is on the rental side right now, not the resale side.”

Rent increases are expected to stabilize, but not likely fall, as more first-time buyers save up bigger down payments and move into the resale market, says Hildebrand. The addition of tens of thousands of new condo units slated to come onstream over the next three years should also ease competition for rental condos, especially in the downtown core, where the vacancy rate now hovers at just one per cent, he noted.

The fact that rents have now reached record levels — with the average index rent now about $2.33 per square foot — means more would-be buyers are realizing realizing it’s starting to make more financial sense to buy than to rent.

This is the latest in series of Toronto Star articles that have been hyping the new condo market.

What I read in all of this is that the developers are now turning to renters to fill their empty unsold units because they have run out of buyers.

Where is the good news here for condo owners? If you bought in a new condo development, its sounds like you will be stuck in a rental building until the resale condo market picks up. Then when it does pick up, you may be trying to sell your unit when the developer has dozens up for sale.


The condo monster eats everything 
May 2013

Nothing; not strip malls, not local coffee shops, not car dealerships, not even churches are safe from condo developments. Now it is eating away at Toronto's heritage.

Honest Eds is going to be torn down and replaced with yet another condo complex. This news has not been officially announced yet but it appears to be a done deal.

To be honest, in the over forty years I lived in the GTA, I have been in Honest Eds no more than five times and I never bought anything there. Still, I will miss it. It is part of the Toronto that I grew up with.

It sure beats Wal*Mart. I don't shop there either!


Condo sales—more bad news 
The Greater Fool by Garth Turner
03 May 2013

And hot off the press is this report from Toronto’s Urbanation: New condo sales were down 29% in the first three months of this year from the end of 2012, and year/year have crashed 55%.

There are now 18,845 unsold units sitting vacant, a record.

Resale condo deals are 18% below year-ago levels, while listings have ballooned 25%.

Not good news for all the new condo developments that coming onto the market or for anyone who needs to sell their unit now.


Rent control loophole blamed for “two-tiered 
system of renters”
Toronto Star
Susan Pigg
25 April 2013

The Ontario government needs to close a loophole that has created a “two-tiered system of renters” — an increasing number of them in new downtown condos where some landlords are jacking up rents as a form of economic eviction, says the head of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations.

The federation has had numerous calls from condo tenants, surprised to discover that apartment or condominium buildings occupied after November 1, 1991 are exempt from rent controls.

But condo market analyst Ben Rabidoux points out that the number of condos for rent in Toronto has grown by 25 per cent, just in the last year, as owners opt to hang on, rather than sell, into a softening market.

He believes rents will decline, and landlords will be left scrambling to fill units, as thousands of new condos now in the planning or construction phase come on stream.

It could be condo owners, not tenants, facing the biggest increases in costs over the next decade, he predicts, as all those glass-and-steel towers start facing maintenance issues and special assessments amounting to two years or more of rental income.

“Good luck passing that on to tenants.”

This must be some kind of pre-election joke. There are thousands more unsold condo units being built with the developers renting out the ones that they can't sell.

DEL Condominium Rentals, a division of Tridel has ads in the papers  holding weekend Open Houses  for the luxury condos that they have to offer in all the "Hottest Neighbourhoods".

Soon enough the small-time condominium landlords will be begging their tenants to stay.


Toronto has highest total employment number since 1990
19 April 2013
City of Toronto News Release (abridged)
April 22, 2013

The City of Toronto's latest Economic Dashboard report showed that 1,331,600 people were employed in full-time and part-time positions in the city in 2012, the highest total employment number since 1990.

The city experienced a 1.1 per cent increase in employment this past year, exceeding Canada's growth of 1 per cent and Ontario's growth of 0.4 per cent. Most of the net growth in jobs in the city is in office jobs, which accounted for 72 per cent of the net increase in 2012.

In the last five years (2007-2012) the majority of the net new jobs created in the City of Toronto were created in downtown and in four business centres, located near the Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough Civic Centres as well as in the Yonge-Eglinton area.

What is interesting is that these areas are where there is the greatest concentration of high-rise condominiums in Toronto.


A meeting with the minister 
19 April 2013

I had a meeting with Tracy MacCharles, the new Minister of Consumer Services on Tuesday 16 April 2012 at Queens Park to discuss changes to the Condominium Act.

I found her very receptive to the owners' needs and to my concerns that the "industry experts" would have too much say in drafting the new Act.

I also told her of my concerns with the new bylaw packages that some law firms are selling to condominiums that—in my view—will seriously harm individual owners that get into a dispute with the board.

Tracy asked specific questions on how to inform new owners on what information they need in order to make informed decisions when buying a condominium.

She also understands that condominiums make up a very important part of Ontario housing and that consumers need to be able to buy with confidence.

It looks like the ministry is very active and is sincere in improving the Act so that it will better protect the condo owners and future buyers.

I also had the opportunity this week to dry run a draft of a questionnaire that the ministry is having designed that will help potential buyers evaluate the "health" of a condominium before committing to making a purchase.

It is also being designed to help existing owners rate their condo corporations.

H. Marshall


Condo owners & renters
You could be on television.

A group of award-winning film makers are looking at condo life in Canada and are interested in talking to people who live in condos in downtown Toronto.

Please contact:
Yvette Brend
Bountiful Films
(604) 931-5225


Are Toronto’s new condos built to last?

Toronto Star
25 March 2013

The tall glass wall condos that are being built in the GTA took a beating from critics in this Toronto Star article. Here are some excerpts.

Ted Kesik, a professor of building science at the University of Toronto and an outspoken critic of the condo development industry, says he, too, worries that condo developers care more about profits than ensuring their buildings last.

“I feel sorry for people in buildings like that, because those windows are going to fall out in an extreme weather event. There will be water damage. It’s just going to be a mess.”

And “window walls,” the system most developers are using, are not as pricey, durable or difficult to put up as “curtain walls,” which is how Toronto’s commercial towers were built.

For Kesik, it’s also an insurance issue. “Premiums are already rising because of climate change,” says Kesik, who predicts that condo owners will see increases of 500 per cent over the years.

“I have always maintained that, when you’re looking at those glass towers there, you’re basically looking at the slums of the future,” insists Kesik.

“No one will want to buy them because people will look at them and say, ‘Are you crazy? I don’t want to buy something that leaks, that will cost a fortune to retrofit.’ So when they can’t get sold, they’ll get rented. And they’re not of a high quality, so they can’t get rented for a lot of money. So who do you think is going to live there? I tell people, this is where your grandchildren are going to come to buy crack.

“No one wants to talk about these things because it gets people scared,” he warns. “The guys in the condos don’t want to talk about it because they’re sitting there saying, ‘You can’t talk like that, you’re going to devalue my condo and, if you devalue my condo, I am going to sue you for having devalued my real estate investment.’

“This is how bad it has gotten. It’s that cruel a joke.”


Seminars for condo owners
In early February 2013, Mississauga MPP Dipika Damerla hosted two meetings in her riding to assist condo owners who were looking for help with problems they were having within their condominiums.

Dipika told us that her office receives numerous requests for assistance from condominium owners as her riding includes over 60 condominium corporations.

Unfortunately, the first meeting was scheduled on the night that the GTA was having its worse snowstorm since 2008. Even so, ten condo owners showed up to air their problems and receive advice from three condominium activists. A slightly larger group attended the second meeting.

The issues the owners raised included:
Directors not trained to carry out their duties. The CCI training courses are expensive and many directors are not willing to give up their weekends to take them.
Two directors at one condo are refusing to allow the owners to have a copy of the owner's list.
Aside from going to court, there is no enforcement of the Condominium Act.
A manager is demanding $800 before he will show an owner the requested corporation documents.
When owners bring their proxies down to the management office, the manager tells them to change their proxy and vote for the incumbents.
One manager openly bragged that "this contract will pay for my family's trip to Florida."
A superintendent who is extremely verbally abusive towards female owners and the cleaners is protected by the manager and the board.
Contractors at a condo are performing poor quality work and are inflating their hours. The manager and board don't care.
A president screams at some of the owners during their AGMs.
One owner has cigarette smoke entering her unit. The manager and board are ignoring her complaints.

Dipika is also preparing a How to Buy a Condo and general information booklet for her constituents.  She is also hosting her second owners consultation meeting on the upcoming changes to the Condominium Act.

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