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Condo News
27 March 2019

Update: Ontario: Saugeen Shores woman charged in alleged condo fraud
The Saugeen Shores police would love to hear from more corporation where Robin may have scammed some money.
If you know of any Constable Lauren Hopkins at 519-832-9200 would love to hear from them.

A 54-year-old Saugeen Shores woman, Robin Rudolph, faces numerous charges including five counts of make a forged document, five counts of personation with intent and three counts of fraud under $5,000.

The Condominium Authority of Ontario has revoked the licence of the accused property manager.

Toronto police secretly recorded these condo hallways without a warrant. Was that legal, or a serious privacy breach?
The secret cameras were installed without a warrant at 38 Joe Shuster Way and 18 Valley Woods Rd. in late 2013 or early 2014. Police, without a warrant, also obtained access to a video feed from a building camera at 1600 Keele St. After warrants were granted, police later installed secret cameras 125 Western Battery Rd., 816 Lansdowne Ave. and 21 Iceboat Terrace, and another camera at 38 Joe Shuster Way.

How Airbnb is clashing with Toronto condo residents
Rowdy parties, noise and damage from Airbnb rentals are causing major headaches for condo dwellers.

'I felt like a criminal': Airbnb hosts ask guests to lie, sneak around in covert rentals
Rogue listings still exist in buildings where short-term rentals aren't allowed.

People hate the condo that will replace the Palace Arms
"I can't believe any architectural firm would put their name on this abomination," posted a member named Ted. "It doesn't even remotely reflect the historical features of Palace Arms."

Condo residents fume as illegal pot shop applies for licence in their building
Vancouver: Condo residents of a Yaletown condo building have had enough with an illegal pot shop operating on the ground floor of their building.

"The Weeds operation is illegal, and bizarrely enough, is still allowed to operate in proximity to vulnerable populations," the association said in an email. "All we ask is that Weeds and other cannabis stores be located in more appropriate retail-zoned areas a couple of blocks away."

Repairs to crumbling North End condo building will take months
BOSTON - Their building has been condemned and now dozens of North End residents are learning it's going to be months before they're able to go back home.

How a homeowner association dispute racked up $1M in legal fees
HOA battles can be long, drawn-out and, for some, expensive.       

US property management firm accused of repeatedly overbilling condo associations
Neptune also filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Financial Professional Regulation, and terminated the association’s contract with Phoenix. That’s when Phoenix charged $400 an hour to transfer documents to the association’s new management company, and answer questions from the state. The bill added up to a whopping $12,000.

Meet the Canadian who took on rental giant Airbnb — and won
He won because the CBC was doing a news story on his issue. Only a few are so lucky. Multiple listings for a short-term unit and the highest bidder gets the unit is something you can't foresee. Want guarantees? Book at a hotel

Hay River RCMP ask public for highrise fire photos and video
The fire, last Friday, did not injure anyone but left the building at least temporarily uninhabitable. Residents have been warned that damage from fire, smoke, and water, could leave them unable to return home for weeks or months – if at all.

Man hosts naked mannequin ‘party’ to taunt neighbour who complained about fence height
A man in California decided to throw a “party” with a bunch of naked mannequins in his yard, taunting a neighbour who had called city officials and complained about the height of a fence.

Readers' reactions to the closing of CondoMadness
I think you have helped hundreds of people with condo madness
but people just want to be bailed out. They don't really want to do anything or have courage.

When the legislation continued to allow proxies, that is when I knew it was not worth it. Proxies are not appropriate for an investment that people also live in and must control with their own unpaid volunteers - proxies are ok for other investments.


Hi Holland, I liked reading the articles. I also thought all very helpful but you are right that nothing seems to change. It just keeps repeating itself.

Hi Holland - this is really sad but I cannot agree with you more!

Condo News
24 March 2019

CondoMadness closing
Effective July 2019, this website will close. I will not be renewing the Internet hosting fees.

I started the website CondoMadness eight years ago. My goals were to:
• Share my knowledge and experiences with condo owners and potential buyers.
• Learn as much as I could about condo governance.
• Help owners understand how to read their financial statements.
• Show owners how to spot rigged elections.
• Help candidates learn how to win condo elections.
• Advise owners who were in a toxic relationship with their board.

I have reached the point where I am learning little that is new. I see different people and different condos but the basic problems never change.

Bad boards keep getting re-elected, poor managers stay on the job and major repairs keep getting pushed out into the future.

It is disappointing when a competent board gets elected, works hard for two or three years to improve the corporation and then gets voted out by a slate that runs on a platform of "We will lower your fees" and "the present board are a bunch of crooks (or incompetents) who are stealing (or wasting) our money".

All of their hard work flushed down the toilet.

Worse of all was to see owners keep getting sucked into unwindable court disputes. It is so depressing to hear about an owner being hit with anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 in court costs. A couple of owners I met were driven into bankruptcy.

There was not much joy in this.

How many members does CondoMadness have? None.

Many of my readers have sold their units and bought free-hold houses. Others would love to sell but they cannot afford to buy a freehold home in the Toronto area. They are trapped in their condo corporation.

Unlike some other condo and tenant websites, I never claimed that I had thousands of readers let alone members. (Just because someone visits a website once does not make them a member.)

My condo articles will remain online for another three months.

Condo News
21 March 2019

‘We can try our best’: Mississauga firefighters target city’s nearly 2,000 mid-rise and highrise buildings in new prevention plan
The city wants to inspect all highrise buildings every one or two years. Some condos may not do so well when the fire inspectors show up.

Population density concerns grip City of Burlington residents as new waterfront development is approved
Oh come on Burlington, Toronto and Mississauga can't have all the condos and you have none.

Condo boards must keep lawns in order
Gerry Hyman's legal column from the Toronto Star. So will an owner take their condo corporation to court to stop residents from walking across their front lawns?

Two recent CAT decisions: One win for the unit owner, one win for the condominium
An Ontario legal blog on two requests for condo records.

Sidney thieves take new approach ‘punching’ locks, hitting secure underground lots
Thieves across the country see condo high rise buildings as easy pickings.

'Your home is not your castle' when it comes to smoking in a condo
Conflicting decisions from two tribunals have left an Abbotsford strata council stuck in the middle of a struggle between a woman with a chronic lung condition and the smoker who lives below her.

Another court decision considers recovery of legal costs
The case involved an ongoing dispute between a mixed-use condominium, a commercial unit owner, and the commercial unit’s tenant (who operated a restaurant out of the commercial unit).

Legal fees must be reasonable
BC: The legal fees claimed must be reasonable. If they are not reasonable, the strata will have to pay for those legal fees 100% and will not receive reimbursement from the owner in arrears.

Six HOA promises vs. realities
Bottom line: savvy home buyers would be wise to be skeptical of promises made in the sales pitch. The disadvantages of HOA-governed communities (including condos) often outweigh the advantages.

Montreal condo becomes 100 per cent EV-ready
The condo is EV-ready but are the purchasers of new vehicles ready to go electric?

An e-mail sales pitch
CG Tower Condos is a new condo development by Cortel Group currently in pre-construction at Hwy 7 & Creditstone Rd, Concord, Vaughan. CG Tower Condominiums has a total of 600-units in a 61-storey tower in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre next to TTC Subway. Sale prices are TBD. The condo is located in the major intersection of Creditstone Rd & Hwy 7 for an estimated occupancy date in 2022.

This Realtor expects people to sign up for a pre-construction condo when the prices have not yet been determined?

Drywall turns to wet wall: Why and how 37 condo units flooded in West Palm’s Whitney apartments
A 12-year-old downtown condo once gutted to replace Chinese drywall, again finds itself subject to repairs, after vibrations from sanding in a vacant apartment set off a fire sprinkler Thursday that sent water cascading through 37 units.

Two points of interest. One: make sure you are properly insured. Two: Read this:
"Josh Myers, who rents the unit next to 702, said after getting bitten by bed bugs at the Ramada, he requested other lodgings but was denied. He used his renters insurance to pay for lodgings elsewhere."

Veteran loses home to HOA for displaying small flag in flower pot
A former Air Force air traffic controller said he was forced from his retirement home by the Home Owners Association (HOA) after he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and seven years battling to keep an American flag in his front yard.

Condo News
18 March 2019

Ontario: Saugeen Shores woman charged in alleged condo fraud
A 54-year-old Saugeen Shores woman, Robin Rudolph, faces numerous charges including five counts of make a forged document, five counts of personation with intent and three counts of fraud under $5,000.

The Condominium Authority of Ontario has revoked the licence of the accused property manager.

The Gaddafi condo: Redecorated at SNC-Lavalin’s expense, luxury Toronto suite sits unused amid UN inaction
A downtown Toronto condo, a dictator's son, the UN and a Canadian company involved in corruption. This story has everything.

Milton council greenlights highrise condo development near GO station
I can't see people buying a condo in Milton. A freehold house, sure, but a condo?

Caught on camera: Masked suspects break into condo mailboxes
Caught on camera is not the same as caught by police. Theft from condo mailboxes is fairly common. Have your mail picked up every day. Get a neighbour to do it if you are not able.

Elevators let you down?
Legal article on the condo's responsibilities with elevator maintenance.

Orlando condo dispute ends with conviction for stalking
It is rare to have a horrible neighbour like this one.

Improper voting discovered at Methodist vote on gay clergy
Since even churches have trouble with vote rigging. So how can we trust condos to be ethical.

“The polity of the United Methodist Church presumes trust,” she said. “The last several years, the ethos of the denomination has been characterized more by mistrust and misunderstanding.” 

Greenville County court issues bench warrant for arrest of Simpsonville man in HOA dispute
Going to jail over a stupid beef with his associaltion board.

Renting an Airbnb condo
I am taking another trip to China next month so I started looking at hotel rooms and a few Airbnb listings in Harbin.

The short-term rentals can be a nice experience as you get to see the inside of new and older Chinese condo units. However, they are often more expensive than hotel rooms. If there is a problem with the Airbnb unit, too bad. If you rent a hotel room and there is a problem, you can switch rooms.

And then, when you turn on the translations for the Chinese and Russian reviews, you may find comments like this one:

Evelyn, February 2019
This room is very cozy and comfortable, perfect for 2 people. Lots of cute finishing touches.

There is one major issue with this Airbnb, which is not the hosts fault but people need to know. Every morning from 4:30 am-630 am, there is insane non-stop horn honking on the street below. It’s not regular horns on a busy main street. It sounds like 30 people are playing a game of “who can keep your hand on the horn for the longest time before it breaks”. We could not understand why people would do this every morning.

We asked neighbors and they let us know that the seafood market next door gets their shipment early in the morning so they honk every morning.

We are not light sleepers and still we woke up every morning extremely frustrated. If you are not a deep heavy sleeper, this will really affect your vacation.

Besides that the room is great for the price, just make sure to bring good quality earbuds!

By the way, 荔枝 is a Superhost
Superhosts are experienced, highly rated hosts who are committed to providing great stays for guests.

Condo News
14 March 2019

Friedrich v. MTCC No. 101
Justice F. L. Myers ruled that it was open to the Appellant to prove that the Board’s decision was unreasonable by calling expert or security evidence. The plaintiff did not established a breach of the applicable standard of care.

The battle rages on…
Leslie Arthur Swan claimed that he was defamed by the Respondents as a result of the wording of a published notice for an owners meeting to consider his removal as President of the Board of Directors.

For a man who was president for only three months, six an a half years ago, he sure stirred things up.

What is also interesting is that, after a successful assessment, the condo's legal bills were cut in almost half.

You can read the court decisions here:

Blog: Are Ontario's condos well governed?
I'd like to take the opportunity to explore condo governance from three different angles - as an owner, board director and property manager.

The growing demand to install video doorbells in multifamily buildings
To be or not to be allowed.

It's called 'The Cramper' and it could provide a safe space for the homeless
It looks like a gardening shed on wheels, but it turns out it's giving one formerly homeless man a place to sleep.

"Welcome to Chateau Dan," said Brian Donlevy, gesturing towards the white shed parked between a car and a tree, just behind some recycling bins at the rear of a home in the west end of Toronto.

Whatever Toronto will end up doing for the chronically homeless, it will not be cheap shelters that look like large dog houses.

A guide to improving and using institutional memory
The problem can be that these new board members do not realize they are taking over an institution that has existed for a long time. There were many boards before them, and while you might disagree with how they did things, the simple fact is that they had years of experience. They talked to vendors. They answered owner questions. They set a budget and collected assessments. And each of those tasks and events gave them some experience. They provided information. They created things to remember. They establish an institutional memory.

BC Strata (condo) shuts down pool, hot tub
Isn't it interesting that the ones who do not use the swimming pool are all for shutting it down.

Facial recognition piloted in Beijing's public rental housing
A facial recognition system has been piloted to prevent subletting in public rental housing projects in Beijing since the end of last year.

The facial recognition technology can prevent beneficiaries of the government-funded housing from renting their apartments to others for profit, and ensure the safety of residents by denying access to strangers, said an official with the Beijing affordable housing construction and investment center.

Understanding Chicago's condo's 2018 proposed budget
The good news is the proposed assessment increase is “only” 5.156%.  The bad news the total assessment increase, including both actual and deferred assessment increases, is 26.348%. And the worse news is Cumulative Deferred Assessment Increases, which will need to be phased in over the next 1-4 years, are now 40.433%. This is because State Parkway’s two biggest expense line items — Net Garage Operations Losses and Reserve Contribution — are each still spiraling out of control.
(I love the three digits putting the numbers into the thousands of a percent. The percision of it all.—Condomadness)

Homeowners wrangle with strata (condo) as complex goes to rot
Buying a condo in a third-world country can be very risky.

Condo News
March 2019

Superior Court decisions
Hemming v. JAZZ.FM 91 Inc.
An owner of a non-profit got a court decision stating that the corporation must supply the owner with all the owners' e-mail addresses. The goal was to support democracy. Will this ruling affect condos? Maybe.

Here is a news report on this decision.

Walsh v. Badin
Another defamation case brought on by nasty condo politics. This motion to dismiss the Application was unsuccessful.

Update: Improper use of the indemnification clause
A general indemnity clause may not allow a condo corporation to lien a unit to collect its legal costs.

What happens if you’ve delayed in bringing a court claim? Here’s a case that you should know about
The Court of Appeal found that the homeowners did not know that litigation was an appropriate means of seeking a remedy until it became clear that the septic installer was not going to follow through on his promises to address the issues.

Has the court lowered the threshold for approving by-laws?
I certainly hope that this is not the case.

CAT decisions
Browne v PCC No. 94
The Tribunal directs PCC #94 to provide to Ms. Browne records & costs plus a penalty.

Lahrkamp v MTCC No. 932
Costs award: The condo wanted $21,299.94 & got $2,500.

Emerald PG Holdings Ltd. v MTCC No. 2519
A mixed decision. The worse part is that the owner must pay $0.20 per photocopy and $60 per hour. I don't think anyone in property management makes $60 an hour.

Bed Bugs, Revisited: Tiny Pests, Big Problems
A lawyer writes that the city of Chicago has a Bed Bug Ordinance that condo corporations must follow.

Fieldstone Farms HOA in Rock Spring, GA lawsuit experience
Imagine one day out of the blue getting served with a  lawsuit. You don't understand how and why. Your whole world seems to  have been suddenly turned upside down and inside out.

Condo News
07 March 2019

The cold hard truth about enforcing strata (condo) liens

One of the hardest parts of my job is collecting unpaid strata fees and special levies from condominium homeowners. I am talking about the owners who have a lien on their property for a small amount of money with no possible way of paying it. Those cases break my heart.  Sometimes.

Leaky condo owners wonder: Where's the accountability?
Calgary: Once word gets out that you're dealing with a leaky condo, there are very few owners who want to talk about it. And emotions can run high.

A woman who identified herself as a member of the condo board was upset after seeing the CBC taking pictures and video of the building. "If you're not invited by the board, you can get off the property!" she shouted.

According to a report that looked into the problems in 2016, the estimated cost of repairs was $3.2 million. The condo board imposed a special assessment, requiring owners to foot the bill.

Airbnb properties used in prostitution ring, Victoria police warn
Police are advising the public to verify the identification of short-term renters and also recommend turning off the “Instant Booking” setting on the Airbnb website or app.

Reserve Fund—Positive Cash Flow—Build it up or Use it up?
When a board member, or even the entire board of directors, of a condominium corporation request from the engineer to remove, or defer a major expenditure such as:
• Roof Replacement;
• Building Restoration;
• Garage Rehabilitation;
• Mechanical, Electrical, Elevator Upgrades or Other Common Elements.
so that they can keep their Reserve Fund Contribution lower for a longer time. What do you do? Just say NO.

Kansas special assessment conflict turns ugly
HOA professionals have the luxury of being able to walk away from the most dysfunctional communities. But homeowners cannot easily escape the turmoil.

Two more NYC condo buildings to dump 'Trump' sign
Owners Vote to Remove 'Trump Place' From Facade. It seems to be all about money. They loved the name when they thought it increased property values and then dumped the name when they thought it was hurting property values.

Ex-security guard convicted of 2nd degree murder of Chinese grandfather
Two years ago, a former Citywide Protection Service security guard, working for the River Walk homeowners association, shot and killed 60-year old Jiansheng Chen, while he was sitting in his minivan, playing Pokémon Go.

Names of fellow unit owners is public record
A legal Q&A column from Florida.

What constitutes an emergency?
Maryland: When can a condo corporation enter a unit?

Similar reports of association theft in both coasts on same day send message to Boards of Directors everywhere
Reports of association theft, fraud and embezzlement are no surprise to the South Florida community association attorneys at our firm, but two similar reports on the same day from communities on both the east and west coasts of the country drew our attention.

Condo towers targeted for takeovers
Australia: Short-term companies lease condo units and demand the proxy rights  from the owners so they can seize control of the Board of Directors. They even use threatening legal letters to intiminate the owners. Will or has this tactic arrived in Toronto?

Condo News
01 March 2019

After Toronto's condo frenzy
In this Globe and Mail article (it is pay wall protected), the reporter talks about what happens now that the condo boom seems to be over. For one thing, condo prices appear to have peaked.

For developers and investors this will be bad news.

The report states that in 2017:
• investors bought 48% of all new condo units in the GTA.
• at least 44% of these investors were in a negative cash flow position.
• more than 34% of those were losing over $1,000 a month.
• 20% of those were losing between $500 & $1,000 a month.

The news gets worse. A survey conducted last November shows that 62% of investors in the GTA plan to list their units for sale over the next year.

For those who can't sell, I can see them turning their units into short-term rental properties.

Reader's response
In response to my last newsletter. This condo is one of the 13 I wrote about.
Had our AGM last Monday. Lousy manager and board will not have it on weekends as we want it. I think Fridays or a Saturdays are their holy days maybe?

The all Chinese Board do nothing. They scrapped the Halsal Reserve Fund Study. No word on them having a new one?  No increase in monthly fees, The building is falling apart.

The water pressure dropped so toilets not flushing and no pressure for showers. The city says it is not their problem.  Thirty toilets including mine overflowed as they did not flush. We had to pay damages.

The horrors of the Landlord & Tenant Board
I can understand why so many condo investors have turned to short-term rentals. No meaningful government oversight, no leases and the possibility of a lot more money.

Dead person voted but no fraud charges coming after Hamilton police HWAD investigation
If Ontario political parties can't/won't stop election fraud in their nomination contests, then what hope do condos have?

Uptight HOA threatens fine after car leaves dick shape in snow
A Tennessee HOA tried to fine a woman because her Honda left a sort-of dick-shaped shadow in a light dusting of snow while it was parked. I wish I was kidding.

HOA in turmoil: President summons police to meeting, calls ‘new’ board a ‘cabal’
As soon as there is a Special Assessment, all hell breaks out.

Items thrown from balcony, 'police assaulted' during out-of-control party in city's east
Melbourne: At the end of last year, a new "disruptive party" police squad was set up in response to a string of out-of-control party in rented properties, including one in which police broke up a gathering of up to 200 teenagers, some armed with knives, at a Point Cook property rented by a 15-year-old boy.

The day Airbnb came round to complain
Most of us who bought into or rented in residential apartments did so in the belief that, not withstanding the ups and downs of community life and all the compromises required, we were buying or renting a home, not a suite in a de facto hotel (only without all the security and supervision a real hotel provides).