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First Step - Fire your property manager?

Condo Madness

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I don’t believe that the board did not know of the special assessment. So, in law, you do not have to pay it.

However, you should use a lawyer that is experienced in condo law, not a real estate or family law lawyer. They are hopeless with condo issues. A smart board will laugh at letters that do not come rom experienced condo lawyers. Even then, you want a good condo lawyer. Believe me, they vary in quality.

You do not say how many units in your building so I can’t tell how much they want from you. If it is just a few hundred dollars, maybe best to let it slide. If it is higher, you may want to fight. Yet, if the board minutes are incomplete or have been falsified, you may have trouble getting proof.


Issues
1. Asking to examine records must be done correctly. See:
http://www.condomadness.info/commando_records.html

2. Owners do not have the right to attend board meetings.

3. Not the best but how many owners attend the AGM or even bother to vote?

4. If they were poor managers why would they be good directors?

5. Changing the management company often can mean that the board is constantly looking for a cheap provider. Bad idea.

6. A director getting contracts in the condo is an awful idea. Conflict of interest issues for sure.

7. Is the cleaning company being paid to clean the building or to manage the cleaning? It is not clear. Do you have a building superintendent?

The costs you mention are low but how big is the building?

8. That can happen. Low fees means poor service.

9. Typical for many condos. Keeps the board popular.

10. Perks for the board. Again, this is common.

11. The board is a clique. Again, how many owners are willing to run for the board?

12. You have a tiny management company that has no backup. You get what you pay for. Dump them.

13. I’d bet that your reserves are not as high as you think. Take a look at the last two-three financial statements. One of the owners may have kept them. You got one with your status certificate.

The 5th floor issue, I suspect is originating either from one unit or from a riser. Should not be that hard to repair.

14. The board members do as they please. As you say above, they do not enforce rules unless they want to.

15. Inexperienced board members make mistakes.

16. It is the management company’s job to provide keys.

17. You can’t expect a real estate lawyer to do a proper job of examining the status certificate package. They don’t get paid enough and they do not know what to look for.

18. That too is common.

Like your unit
Sure. That too is very common. That is why owners don’t get involved in the condo’s affairs.

You say your condo is 15 years old. Just wait ten years from now. That is when the headaches will start.

I suggest you read the back part of CondoMadness.info. There is a lot of information there.
 

Xenosblitz

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Take a look at the audited financial statements. It should have a "related party" section. It should detail if any of the directors or the management company had other remuneration for services rendered. If it shows nothing and you know a director has been getting odd jobs in the building, I would venture either the directors and/or the auditors need to be replaced.

Another area to look at in your reserve study is the interest rate chosen (the rate of return on investment). Some Boards are allowing for 5%+, while bound by law to invest only in GICs/Bonds essentially. This is an impossible expectation. Interest rates are in the 2-3% range, and are expected to be there for the next while. This could be a clue that the reserve fund is underfunded.
 

urbanoverview

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Thanks Xenosblitz. That's good advice, I'll look into it and see what the financials say. If it is an issue I'll definitely need to bring it up at the AGM or whenever the next public meeting is.
 

PinkLucy

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While you can't attend board meetings, you can request to meet with the board to lay out your concerns. You should also document them and you can write a letter to the board with them. Hopefully some of your concerns can be addressed before the next AGM.

Do you have an online forum or discussion group where you can raise some of these issues or at least take a look to see if others share your concern?

If you don't want to wait for an AGM, you can gather 15% of the owners and requisition a meeting to discuss your concerns. http://www.condoinformation.ca/owners-meetings-voting/requisitioned-meetings
 

DSC

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Is the 25th year when buildings start to lean on their reserve funds?
Many major building components start having major problems after about 20 years - elevators, caulking, roofs, HVAC etc etc. If the Reserve Fund has been carefully built up over the early years there should be no problem but if it hasn't ... BEWARE!
 

Condo Madness

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A poorly built stacked townhouse condo in the west-end ran into huge costs within four years of it being built.

The builder went bankrupt (convenient) and the special assessments were crippling. They needed the roofs and balconies fixed.
 

Condo Madness

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Anyone have any management company suggestions?
That is one question that I dread getting.

It is far easier to say what manageemnt companies to stay clear of and which ones have been often disappointing but much harder to say which ones would be a good fit for your condo.

Some smaller companies subcontract out the "backroom" accounting to a different company, some make commissions from the contractors and some have extremely old accounting software.

Others can be great, especially if you have a competent board.

If you can send me the type of condo you are in, the number of units, how old the building is, what are your major issues and why you want to dump your present management company, I may be able to recommend a few companies that you could interview.

You can contact me through CondoMadness.info
 

DSC

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We're currently on the hunt too :)

Met one very intriguing company and one very boring one so far.
It's not just the company you need to worry about, it's the actual PM they assign to your building. Several years ago we had a long-term company which seemed to be getting worse but we had an experienced PM who kept things under control. She left the company and the full extent of the incompetence became apparent very quickly. After a search we hired a smaller company and have a great Manager so, after 4+ years - are very pleased. I can send name if you PM me but I am not sure if they want to expand much more
 

urbanoverview

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We're currently on the hunt too :)

Met one very intriguing company and one very boring one so far.

So after 2-3 years, I have quite the update!

I could write volumes due to a number of issues/details uncovered. Certainly feel free to ask about any detail/question and I will try my best to respond.

-------
Soon after I posted my original message I was able to obtain a seat on my Board. (I threatened legal action as there was a vacant seat and they were refusing to fill it). As soon as I joined I quickly uncovered a lot of terrible, unethical at best, but probably illegal activity. I could write volumes on the issues. Most notably the board was dysfunctional and the management grossly negligent in their duties. Additionally, the relationship between the two parties was completely beyond repair. The only reason I didn't call police or hire a lawyer was that it would have cost more money and time and ultimately very little payback. My best option was to get involved and manually fix things with a going forward approach.

I quickly informed a bunch of residents about the issues and we began educating ourselves on the Act and began planning our campaign for taking over. With the help of Condo Madness we were successful in removing most of the Board members at the AGM, replaced the management company and fired the cleaning company. Conflicts of interests were discovered each step of the way.

Fast forward 2-3 years later, we balanced our budget (it took two very painful increases due the initial special assessment being under assessed!), however each step of the way had additional hardship. To save space and time I'll create some highlights of my experiences.

  • We've pretty much sacked or replaced every vendor we were using with new companies.
  • We've conducted multiple audits of our utilities and searched for efficiencies. Every step of the way has been a slog of nasty surprises. (Energy submetering overbilling the corporation and residents, etc...
  • Defended successfully against multiple threats of legal action.
  • Defended legal suits (all frivolous and thrown out by the court)
  • Defended an attempt by old board members to petition to remove the new board and management company.
There's so much more, but off the top of my head those stand out the most. We're also now in the process of replacing the management company again as the current company has cycled through several managers this past year, pretty much going from bad to worse... they all seem to quit the management company after a few months... our current management company seems a bit unstable and we're seeing a general lack in maintenance now, and after several attempts to address it with the company we see a lack of responsiveness which is unacceptable. Sadly...

Lastly, looking back... I wish I had a chat area where I could speak to people about my issues and seek advice... the Condo Madness website was absolutely valuable, but I would have also liked some place with live interaction was possible... So I've launched a free chat area for anyone who needs a place to vent or ask questions etc... https://discord.gg/GYQbuGN
 

urbanoverview

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THere is also a Facebook group, Toronto Condo Board Members, and I find going to CCI events helpful for meeting people and discussing issues.
Wonderful, never knew about it. I've requested to join!

I still like the idea of a chat area for networking, it's a bit more interactive I find. So I'll keep it up for a while, but if it doesn't take off after a while I can always shut it down.
 

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