Tag Archives: deficiencies
by Denise Lash
Karen and John have just bought their first condominium townhome. When they began searching, their main concern was with the location and the look of the home. They hadn’t really considered the legal issues and obligations surrounding their purchase.
It was only after signing the Agreement of Purchase and Sale that Karen and John started thinking about what they had bought. They were surprised to find that condos differ greatly from freehold townhomes.
Here are just a few of those differences:
â€¢ The purchase involves two stages of closing. First is the occupancy closing (or possession date), when the municipality approves occupancy. Not everything in the building may be completed at this point, and Karen and John may have to move in regardless of any deficiencies or unfinished items. The second (or final) closing occurs after the registration of the description and the creation of the condo corporation.
â€¢ During the occupancy period (prior to the final closing), Karen and John must pay an occupancy feeâ€”similar to rent.
â€¢ Upon final closing, Karen and John must pay monthly condo fees. These expenses are based on an annual budget and are subject to change with no restrictions on increases. The fees are in the hands of the board of directors of the condo corporation.
â€¢ Karen and John were surprised to learn that they needed different insurance coverage than what is required for a freehold home.
â€¢ The couple is required to maintain upkeep on portions of their home, including the back and front yards. Each condo corporation contains different maintenance and repair obligations.
â€¢ The townhome documentation places restrictions on altering or adding anything to the exterior of the building. Karen and John won’t be able to change a mailbox or exterior light fixture, re-landscape, or install a screen door without getting prior approval. There are also prohibitions on erecting fences, pools, hot tubs, decks, and satellite dishes.
â€¢ The documentation outlines rules on the use of the home, including what kinds of pets are allowed and prohibitions on skate boarding, hockey playing, rollerblading, and basketball playing on the driveway.
â€¢ The couple had no idea that, as owners, they would be involved with annual general meetings, voting and elections, budgets, financial statements, and other corporate matters.
Karen and John wish they had known these things before purchasing. It would have made a difference. At least now they’re prepared for their new life as condo owners, and this preparation will assist them with a smoother transition into the condo lifestyle.
Denise Lash is a condo lawyer with Miller Thomson LLP and the host of the television program MondoCondo. Visit www.torontocondoshow.com.
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Who lives beside you never meant more than in this age of pricey realty and home obsession
Anne Kingston – Macleans
Bad-neighbour stories typically involve noise, parking, property-line disputes, unkempt yards, sofas on the front porch. But residents of an affluent north Toronto enclave, tell the tale of a more recent neighbour-from-hell variation: the administrative terrorist. The conflict began in 2008 between a prominent businessman and the owner of the construction company that built his house—a $400,000-plus project—who also lives in the area.
The businessman accused the builder of substituting inferior materials and not following plans or honouring his warranties. “He was a shoddy builder,” he alleges. One frustration, he says, was that the exterior window surround was built with six-inch stones, not 10-inch stones. Another was the builder had been slow to fix an outdoor tap that topped up the swimming pool.
The builder tells a different story: “[The client] spent more than he intended; he asked for things that weren’t part of the contract, and he manufactured deficiencies.” The matter went to court, resulting in suits and countersuits; issues remain before the courts, which is why none of the parties agreed to be named.
A few months into the fight, witnesses report, the businessman turned into a neighbourhood building-code vigilante, calling in inspectors to check other houses the builder had constructed in the area, even reporting hedges that were mere inches higher than code allowed.
“He would get up at 6 a.m. every morning to move his car three houses to block access to a building site,” the builder claims. The businessman counters that the builder blocked his car and spewed obscenities one morning when he was driving his children to school.
When the businessman saw the builder’s name associated with the annual fair for the local school, which his children attended, he threatened to pull his own sponsorship. “He told the principal, ‘I’ll bury you in policy,’ ” says a neighbour.
The businessman says he reviewed the school bylaws and noticed the school was in flagrant violation of many of them. One casualty was a lottery for the daycare centre, which was shut down for lack of a proper licence. “They lost 40% of their funding,” says his neighbour. He even tried to ban cotton candy at the fair because it didn’t comply with the school’s healthy-eating policy.
“The nitpicking was unbelievable,” says one resident. “He could have cured cancer with the time he put into creating problems in the community.” The businessman’s vigilance “created total paranoia,” says a neighbour, so much so residents were afraid he’d report their annual Canada Day fireworks display, which didn’t have a licence.
And so when he ran for school PTA, neighbours rallied to provide babysitting service and carpooling so people could get out to vote to block his bid. “We’d joke about putting a sign on his lawn that said ‘For sale by neighbours,’ ” says another neighbour. The builder doubts his foe will ever move: “He’ll be with me for life, like a cancer.”
Like most stories involving neighbourhood disputes, the conflict lacked the extreme or criminal angle required to make headlines. Nor was it posted on the growing spate of blogs like The Stupid Neighbour that allow people to vent about the “idiot” living next door. But it’s a modern urban parable revealing a changing neighbourhood dynamic in an age where “community” exists online and “social network” is a virtual construct.
With the advent of two-income families, the workplace has replaced neighbourhood as the hub of social interaction. TV is a lagging indicator of the trend, as Three’s Company and Seinfeld have been replaced by The Office and House. When neighbourhood does serve as a setting, it’s a seething pit of dysfunction, à la Desperate Housewives and Jersey Shore.
Disciples of the great neighbourhood activists Jane Jacobs and Robert Putnam—people who talk of the “social capital” created by strong neighbourhoods—are alarmed by what they see as a weakening of community ties. “For many people, neighbourhoods are just the place they sleep,” says Mark Cajab, an executive director at Tamarack, a Waterloo, Ont.-based institute that promotes community engagement.
We’re a culture disproportionately invested in the lives of strangers, Cajab points out: “We’ll grieve for Princess Diana but not know our neighbour has terminal cancer.” And that’s a big problem, he says. “We know from research that the less or weaker the social capital, the lower the quality of life in terms of safety, health, everything.”
A 2009 study by British housing provider Circle Anglia suggests disengagement from neighbours is destined to rise: almost all (96%) of people over age 65 knew their neighbour’s names; only 66% of people under 25 did. It’s a problem here, too, according to a 2005 StatsCan study that revealed that between 61% of rural residents knew all of their neighbours, but only 16% of those living in major urban centres did. (Quebecers were least likely to know their neighbours and Montrealers the least likely to trust them.)
The situation is at such a crisis point that police in Peel, Ont., launched a “Know Your Neighbour” program to encourage residents to gather names and contact information of at least five neighbours in an attempt to strengthen neighbourhood surveillance.
It’s a plight highlighted by the CBC show All For One, in which designer Debbie Travis criss-crosses the country bringing communities together by renovating the house of a deserving local—the modern-day version of a barn raising.
There’s decided irony in the fact neighbourhood fabric is fraying in an HGTV-obsessed society. The fact that one’s house is one’s biggest financial investment and greatest source of happiness and self-expression, requiring noise-producing, neighbour-alienating remodelling, is a recipe for conflict.
Paying more than half a million dollars for the privilege of living cheek-to-jowl, tenement style, can create a near-absurd focus on territorial boundaries. “You wouldn’t believe the sorts of calls we get, says Todd Hall, a detective on the Toronto Police Service. “People complain about a neighbour watering his lawn who got their lawn wet or who shovelled snow on their property or a tree limb that’s over the property line.”
Often, such complaints reflect other grievances, says the businessman in North York, who found himself sued by his two immediate neighbours for property encroachments, battles he won. “I know [the builder] put them up to it,” he says.
The growing number of people living alone and migrating to condos also inevitably yields conflict, even at the swankiest addresses. In 2009, Madonna’s neighbour Karen George sued the manager of their New York apartment building for failing to stop the singer from using her apartment as a rehearsal studio; “noise and vibration poured through the walls,” George alleged.
Heightened modern sensitivities only magnify the problem, as revealed in a recent social etiquette column in the New York Times: the writer was upset because her neighbour on the other side of a shared wall—whom she’d never met—used perfumed air freshener; she had a “severe fragrance allergy” and didn’t know what to do.
The paradox of singular condo life is that it requires greater socialization and community-building skills, says Misha Feldmann, a Toronto criminal lawyer who used to practise real estate law, where he routinely witnessed “bizarre, egregious, anti-social behaviour” and residents ganging up in high-school-style cliques.
In one instance, residents targeted someone whose dog was three pounds over the weight limit. Another case involved a resident who ran a “very, very smelly” tofu-making operation in his unit that violated a noxious fuels law. “It’s hugely expensive for everybody,” says Feldmann. “Even residents who are uninvolved shoulder the costs.”
But where laws exist to warn prospective buyers of the presence of urea formaldehyde foam insulation, there’s no obligation to tell them about toxic neighbours. A couple who lived in an east end Toronto duplex, renting out the second floor, tell the story of a new neighbour who moved in and started a renovation project that began every night after midnight.
One night, he wilfully took a sledgehammer through an upstairs wall, standing face to face with their petrified tenant. Police were called; they sued for damages, and won, but realized they had to sell. They felt some guilt about not informing the next owner about what they were getting into, says the husband. “But we made $250,000, so that helped soften it.”
Slowly, however, the spectre of bad neighbours is influencing policy. In the U.K., there’s an attempt to table a law that will make it easier to evict people convicted of anti-social behaviour. “For too long, too many tenants have lived in fear of neighbours from hell,” British Housing Minister Grant Shapps said.
“Neighbourhood” has also become a fashionable mantra in municipal and provincial governments, to the point where millions are being earmarked to build stronger communities. Edmonton has launched the $50-million “Great Neighbourhoods Initiative.” Manitoba has “Neighbourhood Alive.” Calgary, London, Ottawa, Toronto all have similar programs on the go.
But as the north Toronto example proves, nothing unites a community like a common enemy. “We were a tight community before,” says a resident. “Now we’re even tighter.” The businessman definitely felt “ostracized,” he says. “But there’s enough other people to hang out with; those people think they own the community.”
The builder says he feels sorry for the children, now enrolled in private school, who’ve been left out of birthday parties and sleepovers. But the businessman says the conflict has provided a learning experience. “They’ve seen how important it is to stand up for principles and not give in to a bully,” he says. As for his house, he loves living there. “It’s a great house. And now that we’ve learned so much, we would definitely build again.”
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416−388−1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
who are interested in Toronto real estate. They do not work for any builders.
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Gerry Hyman – Toronto Star
Q: Our underground garage roof is peeling and lime is damaging the finish of cars. The board refuses to have the corporation reimburse owners for the damage caused and advises owners to park at their own risk. Isn’t the corporation responsible for the damage?
A: The Condominium Act requires a corporation to repair the common elements and subject to declaration provisions to the contrary to maintain the common elements. The condominium corporation may be held liable for damage to an owner’s property if the damage is due to a failure of the corporation to carry out required repairs or maintenance of the common elements within a reasonable time after the need for the work became apparent.
Q: Our declaration permits the parking of private passenger cars, station wagons, motorcycles and vans. May a person park both an automobile and a motorcycle in a single parking space?
A: If the declaration or a rule does not limit parking in a parking space or parking unit to “a vehicle” or “one vehicle” or specifically prohibits the parking of motorcycles, both an automobile and a motorcycle may be parked, provided they are entirely within the boundaries of the parking unit or space.
Q: A workman sent by the developer entered my newly purchased unit without my consent and in my absence to make repairs. The property manager advised that the developer has the right to enter my unit. Is that correct?
A: Your agreement of purchase and sale gives the developer the right to enter your unit to repair deficiencies. Your agreement might state that entry is to be at a reasonable time but usually does not require that you be given reasonable notice.
Q: Our board received a draft reserve fund study from our engineers. After the board reviewed and made comments, we received the final study. We understand that the Condominium Act requires that we propose a funding plan for the reserve fund within 120 days of receiving the study. Does the 120 days run from the date of receipt of the draft or of the final study?
A: The 120 day period runs from the date of receipt of the final study. Boards often request a draft study as the board is not entitled to suggest amendments once a final study is received. Within 15 days of passing a resolution approving a reserve fund study plan, the board must send owners a notice containing summaries of the plan and the study and indicating any areas in which they differ. The plan, study and the notice sent to the owners must be sent to the corporation’s auditor.
Q: We have a rule providing that owners who are granted a second common element parking space will be charged $60 per year. The board has now sent a notice to the owners, advising that it has changed the rule to provide that persons granted a parking space after the date the rule was passed will be charged $365 per year. Can the board do that?
A: The Condominium Act requires the passage of a bylaw in order for a corporation to lease a part of the common elements. Leasing common element parking spaces cannot be accomplished by a rule. You might determine whether there is a bylaw authorizing the rental of designated parking spaces at rentals to be determined from time to time by the board.
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