home contents introduction news archives editorial pages
"Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed.
Everything else is public relations."
08 April 2019
This newsletter is now closed.
To read my new Condo Living newsletter, please visit:
The newsletter is a free publication. You can visit the site to view its contents or to subscribe to it for free.
07 April 2019
Accountant buys $6-million in Apple iPhones and iPads on company credit cards and nobody notices for five years
So companies, like condo corporations, can also get sucked in when they do not have proper accounting controls.
An alcove, a nook, an office: In Toronto, 'nobody really knows what a den is'
There are no rules in Ontario or Toronto for what makes a den a den.
Condo board president deletes parts of secretary's meeting minutes
An interesting Chicago Tribune column on condo issues.
Gold Coast condo threatens fine over door-dropped letter
A Gold Coast condominium association is threatening a unit owner with a
fine of $50 to $500 for sending a letter to his fellow owners urging
them to attend a condo board meeting.
Hygiene in shared amenities
Keeping amenities well maintained is crucial to retaining their value
and protecting the safety of those who use them. But that
maintenance goes beyond just keeping the floors swept and the lights
on. What about hygiene? Is the spa as clean as you would like to
believe? Is the children’s playroom a real-life petri dish? Is the
screening room a stopover for bed bugs or roaches?
Lawyer Xydakis, client sanctioned more than $1M for frivolous Wilmette condo association lawsuits
A Cook County judge has ordered more than $1 million in sanctions and
penalties against a lawyer and his client in connection with a litany
of legal actions against a Wilmette condo association.
05 April 2019
Toronto's FIRST dog-exclusive condominium
Le Chien—Starting from the $900s
You are welcome to register your pet for the special 1st of April pre-launch sale pricing.
I moved to a highrise and discovered the raccoons of the sky: pigeons
And yet, pigeons. I have come to despise them. Their dumb button eyes,
their mangy wings, their deceptively innocent coos. They are the
raccoons of Toronto high-rise living. They are rats with wings. They
are evil. I have regressed to an animal state where protection of my
habitat drives my actions, an instinctual need to secure my home
against flying invaders who dare make the cute little bistro set we
bought at Ikea into their own personal day spa—if day spas consisted
mostly of poop.
Would you sleep in someone’s office for $1,695 a month?
Would you live out of your landlord’s office for $1,695 a month? (This was published on 02 April, not on the first.)
A one-bedroom apartment in the heart downtown Toronto is up for grabs —
so long as you leave its office furniture as is and let the landlord
hold meetings whenever they want between 11:30 a.m. anf 5 p.m. on
Insurance costs soar at tornado-battered condo
An Ottawa condo development's insurance rate has soared by nearly 730
per cent after a tornado and two fires, and the condo board's president
says some residents won't be able to handle the extra cost.
The next insurer willing to take on the risk for the lowest price was
Lloyd's of London. The 300-plus-year-old boutique underwriter of ocean
cargo and fine art pegged the condo development's new premium at
The added cost is being passed onto residents — working out to an extra
$1,800 per year for each townhouse. The condo corporation's deductible
also went up from $2,500 to $100,000.
North Van woman who ran illegal hostel fined $5K for contempt
Judge does not force sale of condo that housed up to a dozen guests. $5,000 is just a business cost.
Landlord’s plan to use facial recognition in rent stabilized complex alarms tenants
The technology works. Beijing is installing it in the city's subsidized rental buildings to improve security and prevent fraud.
She used a fake name to bilk $50,000 from condo association, cops say. Then she vanished.
Police say there were two problems. First, Pierson used the card to
bilk the association out of more than $50,000 from March to December
2018. Second, that’s not her name.
Association Election 'Shenanigans' Lead to Contentious, Costly Litigation
It all began when somehow two nearly identical notices were sent out to
announce the upcoming annual meeting and election to the homeowners.
Both notices included the necessary agenda and accompanying documents,
however the notice prepared by the association’s property manager set
the annual meeting date for Nov. 15, 2017, while the other notice
announced the annual meeting was to be held on Nov. 12, 2017.
Residents disgusted by a rat infestation at Clearwater condominium complex
We made several calls to the complex management office to learn what is
being done to fix the issue but could not get through to anyone.
Robber climbs out 23rd-floor window to escape from police
With the police at his front door, one robber attempted a daring escape
last month, unfortunately for him, he was about 60 meters above the
03 April 2019
This is an essay I wrote for the board of a condo in Toronto.
They pushed out needed underground parking garage work so the Reserve Funds
would be higher as that was a selling feature.
The new Reserve Fund Study (RFS) shows that
repairing the garage will cost between double and treble the estimated costs in the RFS that was done just two years earlier.
I based this essay on three points; an engineering article, a
presentation at a seminar and the result of waiting too long on the
residents of a building in Toronto.
The problem with reinforced concrete
Steel reinforcement was a dramatic innovation of the 19th century. The
steel bars add strength, allowing the creation of long, cantilevered
structures and thinner, less-supported slabs. It speeds up construction
times, because less concrete is required to pour such slabs.
These qualities, pushed by assertive and sometimes duplicitous
promotion by the concrete industry in the early 20th century, led to
its massive popularity.
Early 20th-century engineers thought reinforced concrete structures
would last a very long time – perhaps 1,000 years. In reality, their
life span is more like 50-100 years, and sometimes less. Building codes
and policies generally require buildings to survive for several
decades, but deterioration can begin in as little as 10 years.
If construction steel is visible, it can be maintained – for instance,
when the Sydney Harbour Bridge is repeatedly painted and repainted.
However, when embedded in concrete, steel is hidden but secretly
active. Moisture entering through thousands of tiny cracks creates an
electrochemical reaction. One end of the rebar becomes an anode and the
other a cathode, forming a “battery” that powers the transformation of
iron into rust. Rust can expand the rebar up to four times its size,
enlarging cracks and forcing the concrete to fracture apart in a
process called spalling, more widely known as “concrete cancer”.
Seminar on concrete restoration projects
On Wednesday 03 December 2014, I attended a seminar on concrete
restoration projects for condominiums at the Construct Canada Show at
the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The 90-minute seminar, and the
one-on-one discussion with one of the engineers, focused on the
1. Life expectancy
What is the life expectancy for the structure? If the owners plan to
replace the building or terminate the condo corporation in a few years,
then just enough money will be spent to insure the structure won't
collapse. No more.
A building that has been well maintained will require only modest
expenditures to repair concrete damage while a poorly maintained
building will need up to ten times the amount of money to repair the
Maintenance for parking garages includes regular floor cleaning to
remove salt build-ups, making sure the drains are not plugged and no
standing bodies of water are allowed to sit on top of the concrete
3. Early detection
The sooner concrete deterioration problems are detected, the cheaper
and easier it is to restore the building. It is important that the
cause of the problem is understood.
4. Stop the source
It is very important to stop the source of the water penetration.
5. Having the will
The board must want to renovate the deteriorating concrete. Too often,
the board will spend the Reserves on cosmetic renovations such as
redecorating the lobby and laying new carpet in the hallways; things
6. Having the funds
The condo needs to have the money to fix the damaged concrete. If the
damaged concrete is fixed early, then the renovations may cost $2.00 a
square foot. If the damage is severe, then the repairs could cost as
much as $19-20 a square foot. (Five times as much.)
7. Unsatisfactory repairs
This subject was touched on. The renovations may have to be redone a
couple of years later if the engineers did not identify the true source
of the leak, unqualified contractors had been hired to do the work,
only some of the required repairs were done or an ineffective repair
process was chosen.
After the seminar, I asked one of the engineers about salt-water
swimming pools in condos. He replied that anything that brings salt
water in close proximity to concrete should be regularly inspected to
insure that concrete deterioration has not started. The areas around
the pool and the walkways leading to the change rooms may also be
contaminated with salt water as people walk out of the pool.
An Etobicoke apartment building
A friend of mine sold her condo apartment on the Sheppard-Yonge line
and moved to Collingwood. Her mother is frail, so be close to her, she
rented an apartment in Etobicoke.
She signed a lease and moved in. She loved the location and especially the landscaping. The trees and shrubs were beautiful.
What she didn’t know was that the concrete in the underground parking
garage was in such bad shape that the garage did not need renovations;
it needed to be completely rebuilt.
I will let her tell the story in her words:
It will be two years for only two levels and they had to rip out all
the surrounding landscaping. We could look down from our patio and see
the parking spaces on P1.
We had gorgeous landscaping and willow trees and berms and shrubs and flowers – gone.
It is a war zone complete with live shelling!
They left the repairs too long and they literally have to replace the entire garage but with the building still standing.
I would say the building was built in the late 70's but I am not sure. We will only return to pick up mail.
The noise and shaking in our Etobicoke building was so bad, the management office moved out too.
They are not "repairing" the garage, they are replacing it, while people live there and all the gorgeous landscape is gone.
They really waited too long to do this.
It turns out that the management office for Park Property—about 6 people—all moved their offices down the street!
Sure, next time I am in town I will pick you up, it's far—Martingrove
and Eglinton—nice people, nice building, but it has been sheer Hell.
There are two jackhammers that operate 40-hours a week, year round, for
two-years. The parking garage has been closed and the city will not
allow street parking.
So does this little story sounds like it could be your condo building? If not now how about in the near future?
01 April 2019
Fire hazards: 'A serious issue' at student rooming houses near York University
Rooming houses are not permitted in North York, but that hasn't stopped
landlords from renting rooms to students that often lack windows, solid
doors and carbon monoxide detectors. Since these homes are unlicensed,
Toronto Fire is not required to inspect them — unless tenants call with
complaints, said Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop.
"You're dealing with essentially landlords who are trying to get as
many students crammed into a cramped space for as much money as
Changes coming to fire safety protocol in Mississauga
"The plan is to inspect every high rise, mid-rise, commercial and
industrial building in Mississauga either annually or every two years
depending on risk," says Tim Beckett, Fire Chief and director of
Vandal floods dozens of Lower Lonsdale apartments
North Vancouver RCMP are investigating after a vandal sabotaged a Lower
Lonsdale condo’s fire protection system, flooding five floors and
putting dozens of people out of their homes.
The same building was targeted for a break-in by mail thieves, although
McIntyre said there is no indication the events are related.
Typically, residents put out of their homes by flood or fire are
offered emergency social services, including a temporary hotel stay and
a small stipend to buy new clothing. However, in this instance, because the flood was caused by an act of malice, emergency social services aren’t an option, Pistilli said.
“Unfortunately, these people are stuck on their own to get alternate housing. It’s really difficult,” he said.
'Don't have a hope': Edmonton condo sales slump drags on
Chris Drinkwalter's newly-renovated condo in southeast Edmonton has
been on the market for more than seven months without a single offer.
When condo boards and residents clash, legal bills mount
“Most of the battles that happen in these condos are power grabs,” said
Rebecca S. Trinkler, a lawyer at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.
“There are disputes when board members are seen as taking advantage of
But at the root of many disputes are issues of transparency, misunderstanding, overreach and, of course, money.
Complaint letters are part of association’s official record
One of the most important rights that unit owners have concerning the
operation of the condominium association is the right to inspect and
copy the records of the association, with very limited exceptions.
Your letter to the association complaining of your neighbor’s conduct
is not the type of record that is protected by the statute and
therefore would be open to the inspection and copying by any unit
owner. However, if your letter contained personal identifying
information protected by the statute, such as an email address, the
association should redact that information.
South Africa—Private gated estates can enforce speed limits
The Supreme Court of Appeal ruled on Thursday that gated estates can draw up their own traffic rules for their internal roads.
Note the electric fencing above the pointed steel fence.