TheSpec.com By Al MacRury July 31, 2012
Condominium owners have a lengthy list of complaints, but often wonder if anyone’s listening.
Usually, it includes rising condo fees, lack of building maintenance and suspicions about their property managers.
“My son lives on the top floor of a condo building in Toronto,” Audrey Know told Action Line. “Last September, he noticed a leak in his second bedroom. He took photographs and informed the management company. They have sent in workers who still cannot locate the source of the leak. They have pulled out the carpet, replaced parts of a wall and sent in window experts, all to no avail. The workers are not working as diligently or as often as is necessary.”
Meanwhile, he has a bedroom he cannot use and its contents are stuffed into other rooms.
“Who can he call for help?” she asked. “We are at a loss as to where to turn.”
Mark Suput says his condo fees are being hiked higher and higher … allegedly to pay for maintenance he says never gets done.
“Many people, like me, buy condos because they cannot afford, or simply do not want houses, so why are we being punished by these fees that do not make any sense?
“All my friends from Hamilton, Burlington, Mississauga, Toronto have the same story,” he claims. “Condo fees rise because parking must be resurfaced, railings on the balconies must be changed, underground garage must be painted, or the carpets must be changed. The list goes on and on and none of the work listed above ever gets done.”
Well, Linda Pinizzotto’s heard those kinds of complaints over and over. The Toronto/Mississauga realtor is president and chief executive officer of the Condo Owners Association (COA) of Ontario. She’s been working in the industry since 1979.
“We’ve been trying to have condo owners register and become members of our association,” she says. “It only costs $10/year, but it is difficult. There are so many with problems, yet they don’t want to pay $10/year.”
When an owner does sign on with COA, they declare/register the condo corporation they’re associated with.
That creates a database the COA can present to the Ontario government, which can assist in identifying problems which need to be addressed by revisions to the Condominium Act of 1998.
“We are a nonprofit association solely funded by our membership,” Pinizzotto says. “I covered the cost of getting COA off the ground. We’re trying to get the word out because there is nowhere for condo owners to turn for help. We need to let owners know we’re here.”
Knox’s son “can’t do anything (about his leaky roof) unless he wants to go to court and push his condo board of directors to move forward,” Pinizzotto says. That’s expensive, win or lose.
“It would entail a lot of cost and he may very well get a bill from the corporation in the event the board deems this an expense which needs to be charged back to the unit owner.”
Many condo owners aren’t aware of the powers of their condo corporation boards. And, they’re in a bind, because, as individual owners, they have a vested interest in the corporation’s affairs.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty recently called for a “methodical approach” to condo reform, but New Democrat MPP Rosario Marchese put forward a private member’s Bill 72, now being studied by a legislative committee.
“Condo owners have been telling me for five years they need licensed property managers, a quick and affordable way to resolve disputes and better protections against shoddy construction,” he says.
There are 1.25 million condo owners in Ontario … a very significant lobby group.
More information on the COA can be found at coaontario.com. You can join online. The COA offers members discounts at retail stores and on tickets for some entertainment/sports events.