Round Two in the Condo Bullpen By Linda Pinizzotto

June 21, 2013

The City of Toronto is holding yet another round of public meetings for the general public to step forward and help identify condominium issues. Although these meetings are geared to condominium residents to include owners and tenants, condo owners who don’t live in their units should also be paying attention and get involved.

The pitchers are warming up to but interestingly this issue is not only about condominium owners, buyers and/or     tenant concerns. Condominiums are very complex and they target an extremely large audience. This audience can be:  first time home buyers, new comers to Ontario, families, professionals and seniors. Condominiums are known to     provide affordable housing but legislative changes need to be address to protect our condominium market. The other side of the coin is the general public who own freehold homes. So why on earth would they have any interest in     learning and following the condominium scene. It’s a very simple explanation,  real estate has an evolving domino    effect, always has and always will. Historically, values are affected by market trends and market trends generally start at the bottom and move upwards in values. That would be the condominium apartment and/or townhouse market. 

There isn’t a day that goes by where you don’t hear about condominiums in the news. Whether you are hearing about another launch of a new condominium site, a conversion of a warehouse to a condominium, an Ontario Municipal Board decision relating to approvals on additional heights for a new development, an ongoing issue relating to a condo owner and or a condominium building, market reports on the sales activity of condominiums and/or issues relating to short term rentals and the   condominium market. The list is endless and the reality that condominiums are at the forefront will be an ongoing headline. 

The City of Toronto condominium meetings are scattered in different parts of the City, Central, North York, Scarborough and Etobicoke. These       sessions are to share data received from the first condominium review sessions. There are a number of key players involved in condominium         discussions.  They include public agencies, organizations,  private sectors  and different governments. As many of you already know I am the     Founder President Chair of the Condo Owners Association (www.COAontario.com)  who represents and advocates for condominium owners and  buyers rights. We provide a cohesive united voice working with government to enhance long term sustainability in condominiums and for condo  owners and buyers.  I am honoured to be involved as a Stakeholder in the discussions of the Provincial Condominium Act Review which is underway through the Ministry of Consumer Services. We are presently in the 2nd stage.  On the Municipal side we are very concerned about consumer          protection. Changes in the building code and in the  planning act are needed, the property standard bylaw requires review because it may be        compromising our community services. Why are we seeing the demolition of heritage structures and now we have an extensive gridlock and traffic congestion because of overdevelopment. High density condominiums have an immediate impact on public services to include schools, day care, parks, shopping centres, community centres, parking, transportation etc. Also services provided by the Police, Fire Department, Hospitals, Medical Centres etc. The City and Province are dealing with the need for affordable housing. Concerns about more protective Condo Governance relating to Board of Directors and operations of the condominiums along with licensed Property Management Companies need to form legislation in the new Condominium Act to protect condominium owners asset and long term values of their condominiums.

The City of Toronto opened the door to ask about condominiums building heights and the amount of people living in the building. Only last week, CBC hit headlines talking about short term furnished rentals for less than 30 days and the same concerns are present in Quebec and New York. In fact New York passed a by-law to implement fines for any furnished rental under 30 days. Most condominiums have a standard unit policy which           estimates the approximant total residents of a condo because budgets are prepared in accordance with this estimate and the life span of common hallways, recreation facilities and shared amenities can be compromised if there are substantially more residents in the building than originally      accounted planned. 

I find that smoking in a condominium has caused deep concerns on the wear and tear of the common areas and also with fire safety. It has been proven that the residue is embedded in the hallways and also filters through the fan coil heating and cooling systems. Other safety issues in a       condominium are the presence of hoarders, bed bugs and unauthorized renovations and/or repairs by unit owners without proper approvals. City Building permits should never be issued on a condominium unit without City Staff having proper evidence of renovation approvals by the appropriate Condo Board of Directors.

The City needed a better understanding on concerns relating to the interior and exterior of condo buildings. Many residents are finding they have or will soon have blocked views because of increasing heights of new development way past the area standards of the master plan because the builders have received approvals for the additional height. Unfortunately, there is a concern about City planning and height restrictions and the Ontario       Municipal Board decisions to ignore present standards and approve additional heights. 

It’s extremely unfortunate that the Condominium Act has not been updated since 2001 considering that the Condominium market has changed       dramatically and over ½ of new construction today are condominiums.  Please take a quick look at http://www.COAtoronto.com video called Toronto Tall Buildings. I commend the City of Toronto for taking initiatives with a Municipal Condo Review and for hiring Swerhun Inc. an independent facilitator to conduct the consultations. Toronto condo communities are changing the face of our beautiful city;  all residents of Toronto need to be involved so they can learn and contribute to the health and welfare of our City.  Step up to the plate and lets play ball for a home run and a better future.

I invite you to tune into my weekly Radio Show called the “Condo Xpert” on the HazeFm.ca  which airs Wednesday and Friday at 7:00 p.m or you can listen to my podcasting of my shows with special guests from  Metrolinx, Go Transit, Insuranceland, Canada Mortgage and Financing Corporation, economist Carson Dunlop, home inspections, mortgage financing with Mortgage Edge,  closing information from real estate lawyer and a number of consumer awareness topics like real estate market trends, purchasing new construction, condominium issues, concerns and benefits of a good      investment.

Food for Thought:  the next time you hear the word “Condo”  and you don’t own a condo, please stop for a moment and take notice because the   condominium market is the master key of our real estate future. If condominiums are not selling neither are the semi-detach and detached homes.

So what is the formula for long term sustainable condominium market?

Condo Owners  + Condo Owners Association (COA) = Representation for Condo Owners

COA  is a non-profit Condo Owners Association http://www.COAontario.com  

Please Twitter COA and use your social media to help us get the word out.

If you are thinking about buying or selling your home I would love to hear from you Linda can be reached at Linda@LindaPinizzotto.com                                                         Direct 416-561-7373, Office 905-822-5000

 

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