Canadaâ€™s Most Widely Read Condominium Magazine
May 2009 â€˘ Vol.24 #3
Multicultural condominium communities
Building a community Designing for a multicultural community Smell thy neighbour PM#40063056
Management Don't replace windows, repair them
Marketing Selling a location
Legal One hot spot
Management Smell thy neighbour
A community is more than bricks and mortar By Karen Reynolds
Multicultural communities By Amie Silverwood
Designing for a mulitcultural society By Melandro Quilatan and Tania Richardson
Publisher Steve McLinden Editor Amie Silverwood Editorial Intern Erin DeCoste Advertising Sales Paul Murphy, Sean Foley, Atif Malik Senior Designer Annette Carlucci
What buyers want Recently, TD Canada Trust completed a condo poll where they
asked 200 adult Canadians in our largest cities to answer a few questions about their thoughts on condominium ownership in an effort to explain condominium choices among Canadian urbanites. The answers they received were interesting. The results indicated that Canadians prefer condo living because it is low maintenance and affordable. With the declining market, 43 per cent would consider purchasing a condo with a friend or relative to make use of the buyers’ market if they were unable to afford the purchase alone. But when it comes to purchasing a condo, Canadians want low condo fees, good security, green energy and an attractive design. Of those polled nationally, 83 per cent want to keep their fees below 400 dollars a month but Montrealers are only willing to pay 200 dollars a month in fees. Buyers are increasingly interested in buying new (perhaps because they’re more likely to be energy efficient, have lower maintenance costs and an attractive design), 58 per cent thought sparkling new was very or somewhat important. Attractive design is a matter of taste but there’s a group of designers and architects in Toronto who want to make public opinion public knowledge. They’ve set up an award and they’ve invited the public to be the judges of good and bad taste in architecture. On their website, www.pugawards.com, visitors are invited to vote on a number of recently completed projects. Each nomination has several photos, a map and any information the builder has provided to make it easy for the public to select whether they love, like or hate that particular building. Take the time to vote and watch for the June issue where we’ll have the results.
Amie Silverwood email@example.com
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Designer Ian Clarke Production Manager Rachel Selbie Contributing Writers Karen Reynolds, Melandro Quilatan, Tania Richardson, Tony Woods, Don Bassindale, Lavonne McCumber Eals, Bruce Ally, Lou Natale Subscription Rates
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President Kevin Brown Accounting Manager Maggy Elharar 5255 Yonge Street, Suite 1000 Toronto, Ontario M2N 6P4 (416) 512-8186 Fax: (416) 512-8344 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org CONDOBUSINESS welcomes letters but accepts no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or photographs. Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 40063056 ISSN 0849-6714 All contents copyright MediaEdge Communications Inc. Printed in Canada on recycled paper.
May 2009 7
A community is more than bricks and mortar Individuals interact within many different types of communities in our day to day lives: family, friends, religious groups,
associations or organizations and professional communities. A condominium community is
unique in that this is where the individual lives. It is a place to relax, refresh and re-energize. It is home and, we would hope, a harmonious and nurturing environment. It goes without saying that the rule, first and foremost, that applies to any group of individuals acting, working or living together is mutual respect. People react more positively when they are treated with consideration. This golden rule is something that is taught to children at a very young age. Each individual within the community has a unique attitude or different outlook than their neighbour and should be recognized for their positive contribution rather than focusing on any negatives. With very little effort, people can familiarize themselves with
By Karen Reynolds the many residents living in the corporation because, in general, people love to talk about themselves. In the long run, getting to know residents is a beneficial exercise allowing the property manager to more accurately anticipate their reactions. Remember, it is much easier to operate effectively within a condominium community and people
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feel more valuable when disputes can be resolved amicably. When the residents feel respected they are more apt to participate, take an interest and will make a greater effort to attend corporation functions. The second important message is communicate, communicate, communicate. The more transparency a board of directors maintains with respect to the affairs of the corporation, the less chance there is of the dreaded rumour mill. Bad news can circulate throughout a corporation like a poison with much the same result. It is a much better
approach to be open, honest and respond to questions from the owners. There are many positive ways in which a board can communicate with the residents in their community. A quarterly or seasonal newsletter is a great way to stay in touch with the residents and can provide seasonal tips or reminders, updates regarding on-going projects or activities the board is considering and, just as importantly, request input from the owners. Another easy way to stay connected in these busy times is to establish a community webpage. The board can post information specific to the corporation and perhaps even establish links with useful services in and about the neighbourhood. The possibilities are endless. Residents could post items for sale or services they are willing to provide or trade with other residents such as baby sitting, gardening or dog walking. All of which promotes interaction with each other and results in greater community participation. Informal ownersâ€™ meetings create an opportunity for residents to interact with each other as well as another means of communicating between the board and owners. Why not make ownersâ€™ meetings an event. Invite a local politician to speak on issues relevant to the area (property taxes are always a good draw) or a representative from the local fire station or neighbourhood police force to educate the residents on safety matters. Consider having a draw or a competition for the most appealing landscaping and present an award at the ownersâ€™ meeting. Nowadays with digital cameras, corporations could even have a photo contest and publish the entries in the newsletter. Although not practical in a townhouse environment, bulletin boards are a great tool for posting bullet points of board meetings, upcoming events or weekly updates regarding on-going projects. Remember the more accurate information the residents have access to, the less there is to gossip about. Actively listen to the ideas and suggestions received from the owners. Utilizing their recommendations and providing credit where credit is due will encourage other residents to become involved and participate. Communities may be built from bricks, mortar and asphalt and they may include parks and malls and arenas but the main component is the people and another way to involve the people is through the
creation of committees. Everyone has a particular interest, hobby or specialty that, with just enough encouragement, they would enthusiastically share. In addition to the budget and/or planning committee, consider a gardening or landscape committee, a newsletter and social committee. Depending on the demographics of your corporation, you may have the need to create a kids, tweens or teens committee. Involving the younger members of the corporation in constructive
activities, whether on site or off, will help to reduce vandalism and sometimes when the children are involved, the parents may be more inclined to participate too. The establishment of a neighbourhood watch committee will benefit both the young and elderly residents. Likewise, if the majority of inhabitants are seniors, a community watch committee would be beneficial for neighbours to check on one another especially those living on their own and without immediate family nearby.
May 2009 9
There is strength in numbers and the overall effect of introducing all or even some of the recommendations noted above may even result in the condominium community uniting with other members of the outlying or extended community to lobby for parks, street lighting or sidewalk installations, crossing guards or any other neighbourhood improvements. Of course, there will always be those residents who prefer to live quietly in the comfort of their own unit keeping to themselves. It is our differences that make us unique and it is an eclectic mix of personalities that creates the communities we live in. The privacy of these individuals should be respected and information should still be made available to them as their desire to exclude themselves from participating does not imply they are not interested in their investment and how it is being operated.
Naturally there will also be challenges presented by those who do not understand or who have not read the rules. Enforcement of the rules must be consistent and fair. Make a genuine effort to ensure observation of the rules without creating a dictatorship. The Act states rules must be reasonable. When considering the addition of new rules or changing existing rules, it is important to keep in mind all possible outcomes. Is it reasonable to pass a rule in a family-oriented corporation prohibiting playing any where in the common elements? While it may appear to a board as a solution to a problem, it would most likely create new problems if, in fact, the board was successful in having it passed. Condominium board members assume a huge responsibility in the day to day operation of the corporationâ€™s affairs and can face many
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challenges as volunteers. With the support and participation of the majority of the residents in their community behind them, the challenges they face should hopefully be minimized. Unfortunately we do not live in a perfect world and there will always be circumstances or individuals who try to undermine the hard work of the board but maintaining a healthy sense of community is the first line of defense. CB Karen Reynolds, ACCI, FCCI, R.C.M., A.I.H.M., is responsible for directly assisting the Officers of Wilson Blanchard Management Inc. in the administration of the property management division. Karen is a member of the Board of Directors for ACMO as well as a member of the Board of Directors for the Golden Horseshoe Chapter of the Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI).
Donâ€™t replace windows, repair them By Tony Woods
New w indows ma ke condo owners, prospective buyers and condo
feel good. They raise value perception and can increase indoor comfort and
energy efficiency but they can also be beyond the budget. May 2009 11
Managing a retrofit
Repairing windows may not be as glamorous as
replacing them, but it can be a smarter option.
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Key things to watch for during the installation: 4 Window area clean and free of debris; 4Sealant tooled immediately after application to ensure firm, intimate contact with joint interface; 4 Joint backing installed when possible to control depth of sealant bead; 4 We at herst r ippi ng a nd se a ls i n st a l led strictly in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines, ensuring materials are plumb, square and level whenever possible; 4Weatherstripping and sealing installed to create a watertight, airtight seal; 4 I f required, wheels in window tracks replaced so window can slide freely. Combined with insulation, air and vapour barriers, doors and cladding, windows play an important role in the vertical walls of a properly functioning building envelope system – one that protects the building interior from the elements and provides a safe, comfortable, healthy environment for occupants. Windows are the most visible and easily understood part of the building envelope system and therefore are under more scrutiny than other components. They’re often targeted for replacement far earlier than necessary because of the feel-good factor new windows can bring. Window performance problems result from three closely related issues: uncontrolled air leakage, condensation and ice build-up. Condensation and frost formation on exterior sashes are the result of warm, moist indoor air leaking outward through interior sashes. It condenses (or freezes) on the inside face of the exterior sashes before it has the opportunity to escape to the exterior. Stack effect (the rule that ‘hot air rises’ applied to buildings) exacerbates the problem at the top of the building, especially in winter. Making interior sashes more airtight (whether by installing new windows or repairing the existing ones) will reduce condensation formation on the inside face of exterior sashes, thanks to the net positive pressure of the inside of the building envelope compared with the outside. Those considering replacement should consider whether to splurge on a new window at a thousand dollars or more or conserve with a window repair job that can return original performance levels (or better) for one hundred? Multiplying those figures by the number of windows under consideration provides a very compelling
Management reason to investigate window retrofit instead of replacement. The cost ratio between replacement and repair can range from 12:1 to 8:1 depending on the type and current state of the existing windows and the scope of work required to return them to optimal performance and provide a renewed life expectancy of 20 years or more. These numbers are supported by a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Research Report that describes in detail the results of a four-building window repair study. The scope of retrofit work performed in the study was quite extensive, yet the results still showed a replace versus repair cost ratio of 6:1. A basic understanding can help equip property managers and board members with the knowledge required to ask the tough questions and avoid bamboozlement from prospective service providers. The windows should be tested for pre-retrofit air leakage levels using specialized, portable test apparatus that includes an exhaust blower, a control valve, flow meters and other technical equipment. The testing protocol records the amount of air leakage across a window at a pressure differential of 75 Pa, which represents a wind speed of 40 km/h (25 mph). If a condominium is looking at a larger-scale energy efficiency retrofit, a complete building energy audit performed by a Certified Energy Manager, Engineer, Architect or Building Envelope Consultant may be in order, and should include this type of window testing (visit the Natural Resources Canada website at http://oee.nrcan. gc.ca/Providers/register.cfm to find a suitable provider in your area). A retrofit is not ideal in all situations. It may not always be possible to restore older windows to a standard comparable to new windows. But for heritage buildings and historic sites, where replacement is not allowed, window repair can still make a significant contribution to improved building performance. Rep airing windows may not be as glamorous as replacing them, but it can be a smarter option. CB
Invest in materials Window retrofit materials should be of the highest quality possible. It makes no sense to use cheap products as a replacement for failed materials. These materials should include: 4V-strip (large and small â€œVâ€?); 4Pile weatherstripping (with fin); 4 Corner seal/dust plugs; 4Siliconized acrylic latex sealant, suitable for interior/exterior caulking and a back-bedding glazing compound on a variety of surfaces.
Tony Woods was the former president of Canam Building Envelope Specialists Inc. (www.canambuildingenvelope.com) of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, a company with a 25-year history of solving building envelope problems. On April 1, 2009, Canam Building Envelope Specialists was acquired by Tremco Incorporated. Tony remained involved with Canam as a consultant to Tremco until he passed away on May 8, 2009. May 2009 13
As proud as Canadians
are about our multicultural
country, having a diverse population in a condominium can make management complicated. Different governance expectations and styles, stemming from the ownersâ€™ backgrounds, upbringings and past experiences inform expectations of board members and property managers. While every community has people with diverging views, whether conservative or liberal, when issues come up and disagreements mount, arguments that were once about finances can become racial minefields. When this happens, finding a middle ground can be impossible. The trick to avoiding racially-loaded conflicts is for board members and the management to lead by example, build a healthy sense of community within the condominium and to take
By Amie Silverwood
care of regular maintenance while problems are still manageable.
communities May 2009 15
Management and board members should work to create an environment of respect and tolerance in all their dealings with owners and tenants. One of the biggest obstacles for those managing a condominium with multi-ethnic residents is the language barrier and cultural barrier. Management and board members should make the effort to be informed and to take logical measures to minimize barriers. Keep residents abreast of condominium events and notices by finding a representative who speaks their language. This person could be a staff member, board member or a volunteer as long as they can make themselves available to translate notices and facilitate conversations between management, the Board and residents who cannot speak English. By eliminating the language barrier in this way, all residents’ voices are heard before concerns turn into conflicts. “Someone needs to communicate with those who are unable to communicate on their own and where staff’s available that can do that, obviously that’s a great advantage and a wonderful feature,” explains Saul York, President of Del Property Management. “And if not, if you can identify someone within the community who they have a lot of respect for and typically they’re a more mature individual who has time on his or her hands and can serve in that role so that when you’re trying to get a message to that segment of your community, you have a better chance to succeed. And if they have questions, they’ll be more likely to raise them if they’re speaking with someone who shares their language.” Perhaps the group will choose someone in whom they have confidence and respect to run for a position on the Board. That person can act as a true representative of the group by voicing their concerns and asking questions. This can make residents much more comfortable in their condominium community.
“If it looks like there’s a tolerant administration, with respect to the Board and property management team, I think that serves as a wonderful example for the community to follow suit.” Building a healthy c ommunit y is something that needs to be done before conflicts arise. New residents should be welcomed during a social gathering as opposed to an annual meeting. York describes communities with vibrant social calendars where residents can participate in a number of clubs or social events. “There are communities that organize social events and everyone’s invited and special occasions are marked for every community that is a significant demographic in the condominium. I think it’s a microcosm of the world in that respect and I think that’s very rewarding. You get to experience festive occasions and cultures that you may not normally experience and it’s right within your own home. If there’s a Chinese New Year celebration or something like that people get to participate and witness these activities in a way they may not normally do so.” Within the condominium, there will be residents who enjoy social events and there will be those who prefer to keep to themselves but many people will enjoy the opportunity to become a part of a vertical community where friends can be found among their neighbours and these relationships can become invaluable since they can be cultivated within the home. To keep the vertical neighbourhood hopping, residents or management can organize trips, clubs, game nights, fitness programs, tournaments or any other activity that interests them. Scheduled activities should be posted for all to see on a community bulletin board or website to include new residents or those who don’t regularly participate in condominium social gatherings. But the community doesn’t have to end at the front door. “At Del, we organize events that are
intercommunity. We have an art show where all the artists reside in our client condominiums and they come together to exhibit their artwork and there are a lot of talented people who reside in our condominiums and we’re happy to give them a forum to show their very interesting work. They’re not permitted to sell any of their works at the show but they can certainly contact one another after the conclusion of the show. The whole concept is just to share their enjoyment of art. And similarly the tournaments are just a chance for residents in different condominiums to get together in a friendly, social environment and share their enjoyment of whatever that activity is: golf, tennis or bridge.” Organized events can build a bridge between residents with different cultural backgrounds and can prevent conflicts in times of high stress but the best way to avoid conflicts is to keep up with the building’s maintenance in order to avoid a crisis. When renovations are put off, expenses pile up causing a great deal of stress within the community. When residents are stressed about finances and frustrated by the cost of upgrades, people start to throw blame around and this is when disagreements become personal or racially charged. Maria Dimakas, a lawyer with Fine and Deo Barristers and Solicitors, describes a situation she has come across many times. A condominium that has been well maintained for ten or more years eventually begins to slowly deteriorate to the point that it is in need of extensive updates to make it current. The board needs to pass these costs on to the unit owners but the unit owners do not want to pay for these extensive renovations. The owners will elect board members who promise not to raise the unit fees as those who support the renovations become unpopular and are removed from the Board of Directors. The longer the repairs are delayed the worse the condition of the building and the residents are under more and more stress
as their homes fall into disrepair and the cost of those eventual renovations goes up. “Ultimately, there’s usually an engineer or the city that steps in and issues a work order for certain work to get completed which is in the millions of dollars and the condominium corporation has no choice but to do that work,” says Dimakas. “And then suddenly has to go back to its ownership for immediate funds and that’s when the political, financial problem turns into usually an ethnic problem. I find that these types of conditions usually happen in communities where there are two predominant ethnic groups and two predominant ideas about how financial management should occur.” There may be minor disagreements within the community because of different expectations from the management but the situation is under control until tension builds, due to financial stress, and differences come to a head. The community dissolves into groups who want little more from management besides a roof over their heads and those who want to live in a vertical community with amenities and activities for unit owners to enjoy. “When you hit that rock bottom and you no longer have options, I think people, because of their desperation and their emotional attachment (this is their home in most cases), sensible, logical reasoning goes away and it turns into whose fault was it and why did we get here in the first place? And why did this happen? And in terms of answering those questions they result to cultural issues or ethnic issues.” In the end, the best way to resolve these conflicts is to keep them from spinning out of control in the first place. Encouraging owners to become a part of the condominium community and to get to know neighbours on a personal basis and building a culture of respect and good governance goes a long way in making a peaceful community where residents recognize and celebrate cultural differences. CB
May 2009 17
By Melandro Quilatan and Tania Richardson
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Designing for a
For those interior designers stimulated by it,
who choose to be
there is a wonderful blend of cultural diversity in Canada at our
fingertips that can provide richness, individuality and flavour to the projects we design. We celebrate that each unique nationality comes with innate cultural beliefs, practices and historical depth. Winning designs tend not to replicate what has already been done, but rather draw upon historical successes to enrich current designs through inspired subtle nuances and details. We design without borders. May 2009 19
Especially in a saturated market, condominium developers rely on their marketing teams, architects and interior designers to provide each of their new products with a signature look to set it apart from the competition. Today’s potential purchasers are design savvy and make well-educated purchases. They search for condos that can provide them with exciting opportunities within their suites that allow them to bring forth their individual personalities and reflect their various lifestyle needs and aspirations. It is an interior designer’s responsibility to recognize their client’s own cultural platform and to celebrate this with current styles and design trends. Residential design is an intimate and emotional process. It is imperative that the client is comfortable with the individual or organization they hire in order to effectively convey not only how they live but also the different cultures, religious practices and lifestyles that they embrace. In general terms, programming is the process
where the designer gathers information from the client to ascertain their lifestyle needs: daily routine rituals, entertaining dynamics, religious customs, cultural draw and beliefs, dreams and expectations – all to identify client goals and objectives. Armed with such information, the interior designer’s concept proposal can be tailored specifically to an individual client. B ase d o n so me of o ur p rev io us experiences, Feng Shui, the belief in ordered harmony and balance in a home, can strongly dictate the purchase of or the design of a home. Space planning and furniture placement become key elements to the harmonious flow of energy or ‘chi’ in a home. It may be important to consult a Feng Shui Master to correctly identify the best way to direct this energy and satisfy clients’ sensitivities. Some cultural beliefs dictate that the number 13 is unlucky and therefore many developers commonly remove the 13th floor numbering from a building. However
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other cultures find the number 13 to be lucky and seek it out. At the same time the numbers four and 14 are sometimes considered unfortunate and are to be avoided. You can quickly see how the multicultural aspect of a community can affect development! Some religious faiths have very specific needs and requirements in the kitchen. S ep arate refrigeration and c o ok ing implements are not unusual design requirements. Depending on the degree of individual client cultural practice, the designer may have to provide a particular client a kosher kitchen equipped with two sinks and two dishwashers. If the space allows, an additional kitchen may be required. Sometimes this is referred to as a “Passover Kitchen.” The appliance industry has recognized this need. As an example they have adapted many of their refrigerators with a “Sabbath” setting that allows at a minimum the ability to disable the inside lights or other electrical
activity, to take place when the door is opened. As well, other appliances have timers and settings that allow them to be programmed according to a client’s religious calendar Furthermore it is not unusual to provide a sanctuary or prayer room for a households’ particular needs. Gender specific rooms are also sometimes needed for both dining and sleeping. Shared spaces become important to family gatherings and home life while private rooms can provide comfort and relaxation not found in the common spaces. Additionally, many a home can only allow natural fabrics for upholster y and drapery and this is something that every designer must be aware of. On that note, importing fair trade products such as linens, organic cottons and using bamboo as a sustainable green resource, not only allows us to design responsibly but to supplement our concepts with subtle but important and rich detail. At the same time colour is
often symbolic and in many cultures it takes on a great importance. The same colour can mean many different things to different cultural groups. Toronto’s rich ethnic makeup can boast from a decorative stand point the infusion of fabrics, objects d’art and furniture from around the world made readily available at many suppliers across the city. Despite the apparent decline in training skilled trades in North America, there is a still thriving culture of hand crafted artisanship amongst many ethnic communities from stone carving, woodcarving, hand embroidery, mural painting and other forms of high artistry Toronto. Designers have a wide range of craftsmen to meet whatever design needs may arise by drawing on our city’s diversity. A lthough the recognition and understanding of individual cultural styles is important, the pleasure that can come from an amalgamation of styles can set a standard that could endure. The very familiar style of ‘Chinoiserie,’ the mixing of Cathay
Chinese and French fashion is merely one example of that, while ‘Hapa Design’ the mixing of North African and Asian elements, though perhaps lesser well known, is an equally celebrated style in it’s own right. Every client mandate is unique and that is what makes our job as interior designers so interesting and rewarding. Each space we design is infused with the client’s personality. It is a reflection of their needs whether it is based on religious values, energ y flow and circulation or merely providing a sanctuary for them to come home to every day. The key word is ‘home.’ CB
Melandro Quilatan and Tania Richardson are Principal partners for Tomas Pearce Interior Design Consulting Inc. based in downtown Toronto, Ontario. The team at TPIDC has designed fine residences in many of Toronto’s best known communities and condominium projects. May 2009 21
Selling a location By Don Bassindale
a realtorâ€™s famous first three words. When clients are
looking to buy, there are many reasons why they look in certain condominium buildings or complexes and location plays a key role in this. And while not every condominium can be built in an idyllic setting with a view of the water and beautiful sunrises, it is important to recognize what other aspects of location could make a condominium attractive to buyers.
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Demographics play a large part in what a buyer will find appealing about a location. In order to highlight a building’s most vital qualities for a specific person, the purchasing demographic must be assessed: is the condominium attractive to seniors, younger people, single professionals or maybe even young families? Each of these groups has different and distinct priorities in terms of location. The crucial concern for most elderly buyers is safety. They want to feel protected and secure in their homes and when they are arriving and leaving home. Typically, this means they will buy in a safe neighbourhood and in a complex or building with a security guard. Some even want to know how far their parking space would be from the building’s entrance, how well lit the parking garage is and whether there are security cameras around the perimeter. They are also concerned with security and the crime rates within the community, as they want
to feel safe walking in the neighbourhood. Characteristically, a senior is going to consider only two types of condos: a high-rise or bungalow townhouse, because while they might need a home without stairs or with an elevator, they also relish walking out to a grassy, backyard-like area. The amenities and organized events a building provides are also very important to seniors. The amenities include swimming pools, hot tubs, party rooms, workshops, ceramics rooms, golf practice rooms and more. In many cases, elderly buyers live alone, but they do not want to be lonely living in the community. Organized events like card games, potluck suppers, art or fitness classes and organized bus trips are essential. Their children may live far away, so the condominium community becomes a surrogate family. Also extremely high on the list of needs for an elderly buyer is whether the location is close to shopping. Since they may no
longer have a driver’s license or vehicle, their home must be within walking distance from external amenities or have close and easy access to public transportation. Younger people and single professionals, on the other hand, are not as worried about safety and security. Their main concern is often whether a particular condominium building or complex fits their lifestyle. They might prefer a location that is close to the downtown core, so they are not far from the city’s vibrant nightlife during their occasional free time. They want to be near the water, bars, theatres, comedy clubs and fine dining restaurants. Living downtown, however, can be costly and those who cannot afford the expenses will want to live in an area that allows easy access to the core: this means close to public transit or a major highway. Since many younger people and single professionals often belong to fitness clubs, they are usually less concerned about the amenities offered in their own condominium
May 2009 31
and more interested in condo communities with lower fees. Families with young children and single parents are less concerned about finding a location with an active nightlife, as many of their nights are spent with their children. Consequently, they look for pleasant locations where it is safe to raise a family and that are close to green spaces like parks where children can play and dogs can be walked. Fields and amenities must be nearby so that kids can get out into the fresh air, play sports and socialize. Parents want a condominium community that is conducive to family life: this means a clean building, play areas for kids, and other similarly-aged kids for their children to be around. Although outside services and facilities do not necessarily have to be within walking distance, it is important to busy families that they live close to grocery shopping, libraries, and very significantly, schools and day cares. Particularly during an economic downturn, an excellent idea for any property manager is to put together a realtor kit that lists pertinent information about what a building has to offer potential buyers. This includes cataloguing the building’s amenities, organized events, get-togethers and training classes, explaining the distance from shopping, hospitals, libraries and other facilities, as well as showing the location of nearby transit stops. Such a kit is a great way to ensure that a realtor can advertise all the advantages a building’s location has to offer. Especially if realtors are selling outside their normal selling area, a kit will make certain that they can still highlight the essential assets of any condominium, community and location and help them sell homes at a quicker rate and for higher dollar values. But b efore any asp e c t s of a c o n d o m i n i u m’s l o c a t i o n c a n b e emphasized, the buying demographic for that community must be established. By determining who is most likely to purchase, then the buyer’s needs can be divined, which allows realtors to focus on the specific location benefits a building has to offer that buyer based on those requirements. CB Don Bassindale has 16 years of real estate experience and has helped hundreds of clients buy and sell condominiums. He can be reached through his office at 905-338-9000, directly at 905-334-6062 or by email at email@example.com.
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One hot spot By Lavonne McCumber Eals and Bruce Ally
Condominiums, like apartments and multi-unit
buildings, share the urban reality of parking as
a scarce commodity. Usually the spot is not in the owner’s line of vision. This means that the
issue of parking security becomes paramount. Most owners do not have a comprehensive understanding of the legal implications of parking on private property. The laws regarding private property focuses on both rights and responsibilities that effectively place liability on both the owner of the spot and the Condominium C o r p o r a t i o n . C o n s e q u e n t l y, w h e n problems arise there are always disputes as to who is responsible for any damage or loss incurred. Many progressive boards and condoow ner s h ave m ove d from the o l d adversarial legal system that is predicated on a long and drawn out costly legal
battle. Instead they choose mediation which provides effective facilitation that prevents further loss of time, energy and money. Here is one recent matter revolving around parking problems that mediation can solve. Sam was visiting his friend, Jim, after completing a Christmas shopping spree. Jim enjoyed hearing about all the great bargains Sam had just found. After the visit was over, Sam left but returned to Jim’s door a short time later. Sam’s car
had been broken into, all his gifts were stolen, a $2,400 value. Sam was upset and demanded that Jim make it right. In fact, Sam’s was one of the four vehicles vandalized in the visitor’s parking lot that night. Jim was sympathetic but would not accept the responsibility for Sam’s loss. Jim felt since the car was not parked in his personal parking space he was not responsible. That said he was concerned about his friend’s loss. Sam was determined to recover the cost of his lost gifts and the damage to his car May 2009 33
Legal window. He couldn’t afford to repair the car and replace all the lost gifts. Alternatively, if he made a claim on his car insurance his policy would increase, which he did not think was fair. Sam felt he had no choice but to file a suit against his friend. Jim, on the other hand, felt it was the condo’s responsibility, not his, to have a secure parking lot. Jim felt if he had to be held accountable for a common element, namely the visitors’ parking, then the Condo Corporation should also be held accountable. Therefore, Jim contacted
a lawyer who subjugated the claim. This was accomplished by naming the Condo Corporation as another party/defendant to the suit. Part of the legal process in Ontario invo l ve s s e n d in g m o s t m at te r s to mediation. A roster mediator from the Superior Court of Justice with special training in condominium matters was a p p o i nte d . A l l t h re e p a r t i e s we re c anvas se d an d the me d i atio n was scheduled for an agreeable date. Although initially all parties were in agreement that
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vandalism had occurred, no one wanted to be solely responsible for the damages. Several legal concepts were considered including negligence which arises when damages are caused by fault or neglect and can be shared by involved parties in the event there is no specified contract. Visitors expect security when using a designated visitor’s parking lot, this is an implied contract. Similarly, the condo-owner might reasonably expect to offer visitors secure parking in their designated lot with the implied idea their visitors’ car would be secure. The Condo Corporation assumes their property is well maintained and would not expect to have visitors’ cars broken into. So who is responsible? The parking lot on that particular night was not secure. Vicarious liability was also considered. The Condo Corporation has a responsibility to ensure that the visitor’s lot is in good repair, irrespective of budgets or maintenance priorities. It does not matter how often the lights or fencing require attention. Arguments regarding the park-at-your-own-risk were diffused when it was determined there was no signage warning the visiting parkers. The fence surrounding the visitors’ parking had been damaged thereby allowing access to the visitor’s parking that couldn’t be seen from the front of the building. Some overhead lights were damaged or burned out which made it difficult for the monitors to show the activity of the thieves. Notwithstanding this, it was the Corporation’s position that they had sent numerous notices to the owners indicating that they were not responsible for the theft or damages that occurred in the parking lot especially given the time of year and a recent spate of thefts in the area. It was their position that the owner had failed in his obligation to warn his guest hence he was responsible. It was the owner’s contention that his guest had left the packages in clear sight hence he also contributed to his loss thereby absolving the owner of responsibility. Each party had their own understanding about why it was not their fault or responsibility. The mediator’s role was to facilitate and assist the parties to work out a fair and reasonable sharing of this assumed responsibility and subsequent costs. By being impar tial and using numerous techniques including reality checks, the mediator attempts to help each party understand their liability and
Legal assume a portion of responsibility thus potentially facilitating a solution. T h e p a r t i e s i nv o l ve d re a c h e d a Guaranteed 2 Hour Response Not every water damage has to be an insurance claim! conclusion that was agreeable to them all, each assumed a portion of responsibility and everyone is reasonably satisfied. The FLOOD condo-owner had Home Insurance which FIRE SMOKE contributed 1,400 dollars visitor’s loss. TRAUMA The Condo Corporation acknowledged some responsibilit y and offered the D i s a s t e r Re s t o r a t i o n Re s p o n s e Te a m remaining 600 dollars while Sam absorbed the remaining 4 0 0 dollars bec ause he had left the gifts clearly visible. The F UPSFDFJW Call nowFFMFDUSPOJD mediation settled thus removing the need ZPVSGSF SFTFOTPS to continue onto court which would have NPJTUV www.dryit.ca escalated the costs, prolonged the time and polarized the parties. (Mediation is a Specialty Services confidential process therefore names have been withheld.) t8BUFS%BNBHF3FNFEJBUJPO t0JM(BT$MFBO6QT t.PVME3FNFEJBUJPO t*OGSBSFE*NBHJOH These decisions were made by the t'JSF4NPLF3FNFEJBUJPO t.BQQJOH.PJTUVSF3FBEJOHT parties involved for the parties involved t5SBVNB4DFOF$MFBO6Q t2VJDL3FTQPOTF8BUFS&YUSBDUJPO and cannot be held to directly influence t0EPVS3FNPWBM t4QFDJBMUZ%SZJOH options in another dispute. t&NFSHFODZ#PBSE6QT t%SZ*DFBOE4PEB#MBTUJOH Offering parking is part of being a Condo Corporation and the reality is that Maximum three day charges for drying equipment maintenance issues continue to arise. It is important to keep clear documentation flood • fire • mould • trauma of the corporation’s efforts to maintain secure parking. Clear documentation of maintenance efforts can help decrease the corporation’s dryit_PMR_Sept08.indd 1 9/18/08 liability. Having a system in place to verify regular maintenance demonstrates due diligence and decreases potential liability. Parking signage cautioning users could remind them they are parking at their own risk and that they should not leave valuables in their vehicle. In this case, the home ownership insurance paid the bulk of the cost leaving the corporation to top up and therefore there was no financial advantage for the corporation to process the claim through their own insurance. Training staff and residents to deal with conflict resolution issues as a first step can decrease the potential for situations to escalate into costly legal procedures. CB
24 Hour Emergency Services
Lavonne McCumber Eals is a practicing mediator at A Place for Mediation, currently on the attorney general roster for mandatory mediation, specializing in condominium matters. Bruce Ally has been a mediator since 1985 and has his masters degree in law. Also on the attorney general’s roster, Bruce has mediated several condominium matters. May 2009 35
Smell thy neighbour Living in a condominium
requires people to understand
and respect the basic legal rights and reasonable expectations of their fellow neighbours. You don't have to be a lawyer or read legal textbooks to understand what it takes to be a good neighbour. You simply have to use common sense and follow basic courtesy. This is particularly true if you live in a typical condominium where people reside next to each other sharing common walls, floors, hallways and other common areas.
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One of the most common problems arising between condominium residents, and perhaps the most difficult to resolve, is the nuisance issue created by the conduct of one resident who interferes with and disturbs the reasonable use and enjoyment of the units and common elements by other residents. The most common kinds of nuisances in a condominium are loud noises and obnoxious smells. This article will examine how Boards of Directors and managers should deal with the problems arising from strong and obnoxious odours in common areas created by cooking food. There are both legal and non-legal (not to be confused with "illegal") means of solving odour problems in condominiums. In fulfilling their duties and responsibilities, boards have an obligation to investigate odour complaints and to take reasonable steps to address a problem if one actually exists. Boards and managers can not simply ignore a smell complaint. What should a board and manager do? The first problem in dealing with a complaint about strong cooking odours is that there is wide diversity of people with different ethnic backgrounds living in the GTA and it is inevitable that the cooking odours of one ethnic group may be considered to be too strong and overpowering for the smell senses of other people. What one person considers to be a strong, obnoxious cooking odour may in fact smell delicious to another person. While this may be true, boards must still use their judgment in determining what is considered to be reasonable cooking odours emanating from a unit, keeping in mind that the air in hallways and other common areas should have a fairly neutral smell. To be considered a nuisance the cooking odours must be such that they unreasonably interfere with and disturb other owners. The odours must be very strong, noticeable and prolonged and be beyond what is considered acceptable. While the odours may not be a problem if they are confined within the condominium unit in which the food is being cooked, it can certainly cause a problem if the smells penetrate and escape into the common areas and other units. The second problem in dealing with a cooking odour problem is that, to the best of my information, the Building Code and health regulations do not have specific measurable smell and odour criteria. Unlike noise
by Lou Natale complaints where a board can commission a sound test by an engineer to determine whether the wall and floor assemblies meet the sound transmission requirements found in the Building Code, there is no similar type of formal smell test. Of course, there are air quality tests for detecting mould spores or carbon dioxide and other gases but those tests would not be applicable to cooking odours. As such, members of the Board and managers should conduct their own inspections to determine whether they can smell a cooking odour and if so, is the odour too strong and obnoxious that it could unreasonably interfere with the use and enjoyment of the units and common elements of other owners. If it is determined that cooking odours are escaping into the common areas, the board should retain an engineering firm and/or an HVAC contractor to review the mechanical and ventilation systems in the building to investigate whether the systems are operating properly as designed. In most cases, ventilation and mechanical systems in residential condominium buildings are designed to constantly pump fresh air from the outside of the building into the common areas thereby forcing fresh air through the common hallways into the units where the air then escapes out the ventilation systems, ducts and fans located within the units. Correcting problems and making adjustments to the common element ventilation systems will sometimes alleviate the problem with cooking odours escaping into the common areas. Sometimes it may be necessary for boards and managers to identify which unit or units are creating the strong cooking odour and arrange inspections into those units with an engineer or HVAC contractor to determine whether all of the ventilation equipment and fans located in the unit are working properly. Section 19 of the Condominium Act allows persons authorized by the Corporation to enter a unit on reasonable notice to permit the Corporation to perform its duties. If repairs are required to the ventilation equipment servicing a unit, the board should first check the Declaration to determine who
is responsible to pay for those repair costs. When all of the foregoing non-legal steps have been taken by the board in an attempt to address a cooking odour complaint, and yet the problem continues, the board must then move to enforce the nuisance provisions contained within the condominium's Declaration and Rules. If the cooking odour problem is being caused by a tenant, the Corporation can commence a Court Application pursuant to Section 134 of the Condominium Act requiring the tenant to cease and desist and if the smells continue even after obtaining the Court Order, the Corporation can ask the Court to terminate the lease and evict the tenant. However, if the smell complaints relate to an owner (and not a tenant) then the Corporation must proceed to mediation and arbitration pursuant to Section 132 of the Act. The Corporation will seek to have the owner who is causing the strong cooking odours to change their cooking habits and/or implement some form of air freshening system within their unit in order to alleviate the problem. To increase the chance of success with the enforcement of the nuisance provisions, the Corporation and the complaining owners should keep detailed notes containing information on how often the odour problems occurred and what type of smells were encountered. Keep in mind that in coming to a decision, an arbitrator or judge will likely consider and try and balance the rights of the complaining owner(s) who expect to live in an environment without strong cooking odours versus the rights of a resident to cook foods that appeal to him or her within certain norms. Although there is a balance between these rights, more and more courts and arbitrators are recognizing that it is acceptable to place reasonable limits on the conduct and rights of condominium residents who live in such close proximity with each other. CB
Lou Natale LL.B. is a senior member of the Condo Law Group at Toronto law firm Fogler Rubinoff LLP which services the condominium industry throughout the Greater Toronto Area, the Golden Horseshoe and Cottage Country. Lou can be reached at 416-941-8804 or lnatale@ foglers.com. May 2009 37
A community that plays together stays together Inspiring residents can take a lot of effort but the work pays off. Increasing events and instilling a sense of community in residents benefits all.
Golf days and sports leagues will bring out the jocks and cheerleaders.
Host a bake sale or food drive.
Get your knitting needles out! A stitch and bitch is a social and productive affair.
An art show will entice the resident Picassos.
A games night will bring everyone together, whether it be for Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, chess or bridge.
Host a speed dating session and invite other condo community residents.
Organize a wine tasting event.
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Multicultural Condominium Communities