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Condo News
30 January 2017

ThyssenKrupp fined $375K after man’s elevator injury in west-end Toronto condo
An unapologetic ThyssenKrupp Canada was fined $375,000 on Tuesday, as the prosecution had urged, for a potentially fatal breach of elevator safety laws in which a man was injured.

In passing sentence, Ontario court Judge Mindy Avrich-Skapinker said the Crown’s request for the “really low” fine – well short of the maximum $2 million – had caught her off guard.

CAI is proud to announce a new chapter: CAI Canada
Community Association Institute (the American version of ACMO/CCI) has started a Cnandian chapter. You can read about it here.

CAI Canada will host its first seminar, AirBNB, the Uber Factor of Condominium Living: An International Perspective
On Feb. 15 at noon to 1:00 p.m. EST. This free, virtual webinar is currently accepting registrations online here.

Police remove military training munition round from downtown condo parking garage
Toronto Police are trying to figure out how a military training munition round ended up in a downtown condo parking garage on Tuesday.

Investigators to look at security video to determine how the round got there

How easy is it to get duplicate fobs?
Real easy. Fobs are not a fail-safe security system.

Unfinished Kamloops condo draws the ire of neighbours
'It looks like some bombed out 3rd world city,' says angry resident.

Cat ladies welcome: Montrealer sells condo with unique Kijiji ad, attracts thousands of hits
In her Kijiji ad, Martel explains she is selling to a particular market – “cat ladies,” to be specific. The unorthodox post has generated close to 200,000 page visits in 24 hours.

Articles from USA
How Kellyanne Conway made it to the White House
“In 2005, George and I had a beautiful home in the sky. I was on the board of our Trump World condo, 48th and First. Tenants were Derek Jeter, Harrison Ford. Who’d expect Mr. Trump, very engaged, knowing all the facts and figures, to come to a meeting?

Donald Trump attended condo meetings?

“I was a pollster in those days, so he and I would talk politics. 2011, although loving ‘The Apprentice,’ he hypothetically talked about going to DC. March 2015, he called me in. 2016, I joined his campaign.”

Airbnb: Please stay away from condos
A recent Ontario Superior Court decision may influence American courts.

Former Fountain Hills HOA bookkeeper accused of stealing $12K
She reportedly told police that she went to the casino hoping to win back and repay the HOA for the money she took.

Condo News
25 January 2017

1.5 million Kidde NightHawk smoke detector, carbon monoxide alarms recalled
Recall applies to KN-COSM-IBCA and KN-COSM-ICA models manufactured between June 2004 and March 2011

Duo used Spider-Man-like moves to flee sex den home invasion
Two gun-toting men behind the violent condo home invasion of a Scarborough sex den climbed down eight storeys to escape from cops.

Bad choices  (From Garth Turner's blog)
Last month a stunning 1,500 newly-built condos were sitting empty across Calgary, 800 of which are high-rise units. It’s the worst vacancy rate in 15 years, getting badder by the month. Back in 2014 the market was hot, buyers were plentiful and builders revved up. Now those units are coming on stream when the economy’s turned, rates are rising, mortgage rules tightening, and buyers gone.

As an agent said to local media: “I’ve had people that have bought not one, but two or three of these, hoping to flip them or to rent them out, and where they really got caught is the rental market. They were planning on having rentals cover their investment in these and it’s not working out at all.”

Vancouver strata blocks Moby Dick franchise from opening over 'offensive' name, lawsuit alleges

Fish and chips restaurant named for famous novel says strata council deemed branding and signage inappropriate.

E-mail from a reader
We tried this service (Fob Toronto) ourselves to see how secure our fobs are by testing one of them. Thanks a million for this one, the board and security were very interested. Well it turns out that our fobs are easily copied. One fob costs $50 with price breaks for volumes.

Manager—North York

Article from USA
HOA loan balance does not show up on financial statements
Our BOD has three new members with two of us being in accounting, yet we can’t figure out why a loan balance shows up on the financials from the management company but is nowhere on the reviewed financials that are reviewed by our accountant each year.

Shouldn’t this liability be showing on reviewed statements too? We are only now being exposed to fund accounting – but it seems odd.

Article from China
19 buildings demolished by blasts at same time in central China

A total of 19 buildings in Wuhan's downtown area were demolished by five tons of explosives at one-time in only 10 seconds from 11:50 p.m. Saturday in central China's Hubei Province.

Not only can they build extremely quickly, the Chinese can demolish older condo towers far quicker than we can in Canada. Watch the entire video as it really is fascinating how so many buildings were dropped when they are so close to a major road and LRT line.

Here is the video report on YouTube.


Condo News
16 January 2017

Toronto Life published an article on Urbancorp. It details the dangers of buying a pre-construction home.

Top 10 condo law cases of 2016
Happy 2017! Here’s Gardiner Miller Arnold LLP's look at some of the most notable condo law cases from the year gone by.

When will the Toronto real estate bubble burst?
Will the real estate bubble burst? I am no prophet so I asked a reader who owns commercial and residential real estate throughout North America what he thought. He replied:

"Good Morning;
Personally I believe this is the time. In 1992, same thing happened just after the US election, Our economy was booming, and then all of a sudden it dropped.

I remember in 2008, lenders were giving 50% Loan-To-Value (LTV) and interest rates were low, and real estate was through the roof (not as high as today, but it was high). As soon as the US election was over we saw slight declines in our economy in Nov and Dec 2008, then Jan 2009 hit us like a brick wall!

I believe the same will happen again this time."

Will the balloon burst by spring? I don't think anyone knows. However, if prices hold up until the late spring, I figure we should be good for another year.

Detached houses will do better than condos as supply is low while demand is high. Condos may not do so well. There are 170 new condo towers coming on stream in 2017.

Ontario cabinet shuffle
In the latest provincial government shuffle, Tracy MacCharles returns as Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

Kitec plumbing in condos should be revealed
Although the board and property manager were no doubt aware that Kitec was used in the building, Natalie was not told about it.

When she resold the unit last month, the buyers learned of the potentially defective plumbing and Natalie had to drop the sale price by $30,000.

Little Italy condo site could become lot for luxury vehicles
Ottawa's Mastercraft Starwood’s application to temporarily use its Phase 2 site at SoHo Champagne for car storage is related to Ottawa’s soft condo market. The company isn’t ready to build the second part of the condo complex at 115 Champagne Ave. S. and there’s an opportunity to use the land for another business purpose.

The Phase 1 owners have two problems. The first is to share its location with a car lot. The second is that if they have any shared facilities, they will be paying full freight for them for years as Phase II will be a long time coming.

Articles from USA
Sleazy treasurer left Westchester Trump Tower a financial mess: suit
The other Trump Tower — in White Plains — is in financial trouble after the condominium discovered its longtime treasurer had been allegedly stealing cash for years, according to a lawsuit filing.

Nuns allowed to have soup kitchen in condo building
The city allows the soup kitchen to move into a condo even though the condo residential owners not happy about it.

Consumer protection
Don't post pictures of your boarding pass
It turns out that because of the way airlines "encode" your passenger ID on your boarding pass, it's easy for anyone who sees it—on Instagram, for example—to screw with your travel plans.

Come to think of it, be careful posting anything with unique identifiers on it. Passports, credit cards, drivers licenses, keys. Heck, even a picture of your phone screen might have enough finger smudges on it to reveal your passcode.


Condo News
11 January 2017

Fob Toronto
Think that fobs give your condo building a high level of security? Then you are mistaken. The following is from a small Toronto company's website.

We are very happy to have been working here in Toronto for our clients. From property managers, real estate moguls, landlords, tenants, and cleaners, we have supplied almost 300 fobs to our clients in the GTA.

At FobToronto, we use a system and hardware that is top-of-the-line, and can finish keys in a matter of minutes (or sometimes in seconds), so that you can be on your way. We don't want to wait around outside, lose out on sales and occupancy, nor not be able to cook dinner because somebody lost their keys, or they're just pre-occupied and can't text back immediately. These things happen, and this is why we're here.


Commute from Hell
A CBC Ideas radio show host Paul Kennedy speaks with five regular Toronto commuters, and hears some of their horrendous stories about getting from home to work, and back again

Maintaining kitchen drains
Why condo owners shouldn't dump food waste, coffee grinds, bacon drippings, cooking oil or kitchen grease down the drains. The drain will get plugged and you will pay all the insurance deductibles for any damage done to your unit and to any other units that are hooked up to the same drain stack.

It is surprising that so few residents know this.

Articles from USA
Get ready for higher HOA fees if Prop 206. passes
An industry lobby group claims that an increase in the Arizona minimum wage (to $12 by 2020) will drive up monthly maintenance fees. However it is okay for management companies to get automatic 3% annual increases.

Article from Australia
Dirty tricks and dodgy by-laws as Australian condos declare war on short-term rentals
Condo corporations in some Sydney buildings are fighting short-term rentals with dirty tricks, iffy by-laws and when needed: sabotage. Whatever works.

Articles from Asia
Inside China’s cutthroat race to build the world’s fastest elevator
At Shanghai Tower, people often pull out their cameras. As the doors close, a screen at the elevator’s front lights up to show you the car’s location as it rises toward the building’s newly opened observation deck. A neatly dressed attendant informs passengers that the elevator has now reached a top speed of 18 meters per second, approximately 40 mph (64 km/h). The fastest elevator in the world.

Condo News
03 January 2017
Bike Lanes – What’s next?

Hosted by Why Should I Care
Monday January 16 @ 7:00 pm–9:00 pm
The Madison Avenue Pub

2017 might be the year that transit really does get friendlier for cyclists.

There’s just shy of half a year worth of data from the Bloor street bike lane pilot project and the reception to those bike lanes will have an impact on transit all over the city.

Will this lead to more bike lanes along major corridors, fewer, but bigger bike paths, or does ridership justify expansion at all?

Albert Koehl, a cycling advocate, and the person largely behind the existence of the Bloor bike lanes, and Jacequelyn Hayward Gulati, the city’s Acting Director for Transportation Infrastructure Management will be joining us Monday January 16th, at the Madison to lead a discussion about the future of Toronto’s transportation infrastructure.

As always, the event is free, you just have to pay for anything you order.

Monday  January 16, The Madison Avenue Pub
(very close to the Spadina Subway Station)
7:00 pm doors open   7:30 pm discussion starts

Chaotic parking problems for Canary District condo dwellers
Pam McConnell, city councillor for the area says street parking in the area was never intended for high rise occupants and she's even pushing the City to keep condo residents' cars off the streets. (Good thing condo residents don't vote.)

Toronto’s ‘Hooker Harvey’s’ saved from proposed condo development
A notorious fast food establishment in downtown Toronto with an unfortunate nickname has been spared the wrecking ball – for now – amid changes in a neighbourhood that is seeing new condo development applications.

Ottawa has a new condo law firm
Davidson Houle Allen LLP Condominium Law is a preeminent boutique condominium law firm established in 2017. They provide a range of legal services to over 800 condominium corporations throughout Eastern Ontario.

To subscribe to their blog:

Articles from USA
Property manager charged with fraud
My friends HOA was defrauded of about $250,000 by their property manager, among other things. He was indicted on multiple felonies a couple of weeks ago. I am trying to find out what other properties he manages to make sure he has not done or is not doing the same to them.

Ripe for the pickings.
So true about no one minding the store. People who buy into a community do so with the attitude that everything will be taken care of for them, and don't want to get involved with anything. Owners don't go to the meetings, no one reads the notices or meeting summaries that go out, etc., and when there are issues, they'd rather just complain about it behind everyone's back. Ripe for the pickings.

The manager & the vendors
While the manager does not necessarily sign huge checks she presents the selected contractors which more often than not has not been one of three bidders. There always seems to be some reason why there are no other bidders and it's pretty clear to me at least that the vendors are chosen by the manager and who knows what goes on to allow the same vendors year after year who seem to own us.

I asked to see Vendor contracts, agreements that were current as a board member and received instead a letter from the HOA's attorney advising me I must stop requesting "all sorts of documents" or executive meetings could be held without me.

I had to wonder why a binder was given to each new board member with a few vendor contracts that were outdated and incomplete if we weren't entitled to know who the vendors are.

Florida condo bookkeeper charged with fraud
Yet another alleged fraud case. This time it was the manager who caught it.

Burnt down resort condos in Vermont not being rebuilt
One third of the condo units burnt down and the corporation has not commenced rebuilding them. Why? The board did not take out sufficient insurance to pay for such a big loss and the other owners do not want to pay for the work.

Condo News
03 January 2017

Ontario judge has warning for condo owners
An Ontario Superior Court judge ruled: "The unit holders elect their managers and the conduct of litigation by management is ultimately their responsibility."

So if your board allows an advantageous court settlement to slip away on a dumb "all or nothing" gamble, don't expect the judge to give the condo corporation a break when it comes to court costs. The owners elected their directors and if you picked poor leadership, well that can be too bad.

The winners in this case? The bank and both law firms. Guess who the losers were? The condo owners of course.

A big question? Will the board try to recover some of their costs by suing the property management company?

Consumer Alert—Condo HVAC units
A CTV video news story about a Liberty Village condo owner who bought a new unit that has a 15 year HVAC rental agreement at an outrageous interest rate. Any buyers in that building will have to assume the agreement if they don't have the seller pay the op-out costs.

Calgary condo blames 12% fee hike on minimum wage, carbon tax but economist doubts claims
"Much of the increases above relate to an increase in minimum wage and the government implemented carbon tax levy," writes FirstService Residential in the letter, on behalf of the building's board of directors.

June Donaldson, an advocate for condo owners in Calgary, says condo boards and property management companies have the power to raise fees and can justify the decision however they see fit.

The fee increases may be required but blaming carbon tax & minimum wage increases makes it look like the board is blaming the provincial government instead of being candid about the condo's financial needs.

Articles from USA
Orange County Most Influential 2016: Rebekah Hundric started her own rescue shelter in her family's La Habra condo

Hundric at age 12 founded Rebekah’s Foster Farm in her family’s La Habra condo. Her mom first set an eight-cat limit, but Hundric built a fenced-in “catio” on her balcony and soon began taking in more rescues. In 2016, the eighth-grader at Capistrano Connections Academy expanded her rescue to include dogs and rabbits.

Condo living is long on convenience and short on maintenance. The attractive feature is that you can live in a condominium in a most desirable neighborhood at a fraction of the cost of a single-family home.
—Angela Carll, New Orleans Realtor

It is this type of statement that I find so misleading. Sure condo owners don't do any outside maintenance but they must pay service companies to do it for them. Those costs go up every year.

Car break-in upsets owner

This is one upset owner. Car break-ins in condos can be a serious problem. This fall, over a two-month period, one large condo in Mississauga had twenty vehicles broken into.

Article from Europe
Electrolux backpedals on 'Uber for laundry' proposal
Originally reported in The Financial Times, Electrolux CEO Jonas Samuelson said, "We have a few fun ideas we are testing, like: how about a laundry Uber, where people share their unused laundry time? But there are enormous complexities such as what happens if the clothes come out and are ruined?"

Samuelson has a point. There are many hurdles that shared laundry startups face, like, shrunken clothes, competitive pricing, delayed delivery times and the dreaded missing sock.

In the new "sharing economy" this idea may have legs.

The new tiny condos have those rinky-dinky combined washer-dryers that are little better than toys so if a stay-at-home mom or a retiree in a downtown condo buys a proper stacked washer/dryer, it makes sense for condo residents to drop off their clothes at the "laundry's" doorway in the morning and pick up their clean laundry the following evening.