Feedback From Readers

This website is updated periodically.  However, these updates no longer include posting recent letters sent through the Contact Us feature by condo owners and other interested persons.

The rationale is simply that this is a time-consuming activity and my time is better spent answering the letters that are unfortunately getting more numerous. Condo owners need help!  And this help should come from the government, as soon as possible.  AMA

 

July 2016 Updates!

Who Sends Letters?

4,515   persons  have sent letters between July 2009 and the end of December, 2015.... in other words, by the end of 2015,  we had heard from at least 40% of all condo corporations in Ontario.

Note: Beginning in 2014, I stopped updating the statistics below because, after 5 and a half years, the trends are the same...and I am too busy to continue. The one notable exception for 2014 through June 2016 is that more owners wrote asking for help because they were about to be forced to sell their condo: They had done nothing wrong but their lives were being made too miserable or expensive by a difficult manager or board or both. This is continuing even after the passage of the new Condo Act on December 2,  2015.

By the end of 2013, of the letters then received, 2,332 were sent by owners; 437 by current and past board members; 164 by current and former managers; and 76 by current and former contractors and related professionals in the condo industries.

 

What Are the Most Common Problems Reported?*

Managers are far more frequently reported as the source of problems than boards of directors: 81% versus 60%. However, in at least 50% of the cases, both are jointly mentioned.

  • 53.5%* of letters focus on financial problems including unwarranted expenditures and waste of condo monies; misuse of the reserve fund; esthetic changes that are given precedence over needed repairs; large surpluses that are misused; special assessments not explained or out of proportion to the work done; rigged contract bidding process; contracts being awarded to the same contractors preferred by the manager with consequent loss of money; unnecessary work done by contractors; staff not doing their job so that more staff or outside contractors have to be hired; fees going up too quickly or increasing despite large surpluses; kickbacks, fraud, and outright theft (see further down).
  • 49% mention lack of communication from boards of directors and/or managers, especially about money issues such as reasons for fee hikes, itemized prices of updgrades and large maintenance costs; confusing accounting; special assessments; loans. Lack of information about board meetings; refusal by boards/managers to respond to owners' enquiries and to provide information requested.
  • 39% of letters are about repairs/maintenance that are not being carried out, often for months and even years, including refusals to attend to water penetration problems in units or damage caused by water penetration; mold in fan coils and other places; broken windows/doors; pool areas that are unsanitary; etc.
  • 33% of letters report that boards and/or managers refuse access to condo documents to which they have a right.
  • 32 % of owners also write about the fact that they end up intimidated, bullied, discriminated against, or threatened by boards/managers when they request services or make justifiable complaints. Many receive accusatory letters telling them to stop their "harassment" and numerous others receive unwarranted letters from the condo's lawyer and often have to pay for these letters. Consult the letters on "Harassment" and "Defamation" Redefined .

In fact, fear is an emotion that permeates at least a third of all letters received. Most writers do not want their letter posted because they are afraid that they will be unfairly treated if recognized by management and boards. Their fears are too often justified: the word "threatening" recurs in letters and a specific section is devoted to this problem below. The larger implication is this: It can be costly for condo owners to seek justice, especially in a public way. The reality is that the Condo Act too often protects the various condo industries' vested interests rather than those of owners.

  • 24% of letters detail conflicts of interest on the part of managers and/or board members in terms of the rules they choose to enact and to enforce (and against whom they do so--discrimination); parking privileges; repairs; improvements; specific contractors, etc. 
  • 23% report noise issues that are not attended, even for years. Noise from other units, faulty ventilation systems, water pumps, elevators, party room, shared facilities,etc. The pages on noise issues are some of the most frequently consulted pages in this website. Thus, noise problems are far more common than seen in the letters received.

As a result of noise, many owners cannot sleep and suffer from depression; others have seen their blood pressure go up or experienced cardiac problems; others have had to take a leave of absence from work or gone on disability for several months. Yet, nothing is done. It is shocking that this is allowed to go on because it is scientifically proven that noise constitutes a health hazard.

  • 21% report their inability to contact their boards of directors (generally because managers prevent owners from reaching the board).
  • 20% of letters are about condo lawyers  sending owners unwarranted legal letters for which owners have to pay,abuse of liens, and even abuse of power of sale; lawyers who protect dysfunctional and/or dishonest boards and managers against owners. Also included is failing to do anything when there are fraudulent proxies gathered by managers and/or boards. Also mentioned are new by-laws that are against the Condo Act; inventing or twisting rules to suit boards or to go against owners the board or manager doesn't like. Consut  Abuse of Legal Letters and Liens
  • 15% mention fraudulent proxies presented by boards/managers at AGMs and Requisitioned Meetings.
  • 15% detailed cases of fraud and kickbacks more often on the part of managers than board members. Consult the letters in  Condo Fraud, Kickbacks, and Conflicts of Interest. Also included are cases of board members being paid "salaries" of $600 to $1,800 a month without permission from owners and without a by-law allowing this situation.

 * The percentages above go beyond 100% because over 75% of writers have more than one issue. In addition, over 25% have more than five (5) issues, a proportion that seems to have increased in the past year, in great part because the  types of financial problems reported have increased.

Percentages lower than 15% are not reported. They include

  • problems caused by poor construction and builders' dishonesty
  • problems wish shared facilities
  • mediation and arbitration that go nowhere and are costly
  • abuse of owners by other staff such as superintendents and security
  • elderly owners who are not allowed to have live-in help
  • general elder abuse
  • boards' refusal to follow court orders in favour of owners (often with the help of condo lawyers paid by the corporation)
  • insurance issues and complexities
  • general complaints about the uselessness of the Condo Act and, more recently, the Expert Panel report
  • cleaning staff and superintendents who do not do their jobs
  • mistreatment of cleaning staff and arbitrary firings by managers and boards
  • cleaning staff used as personal servants by managers
  • board members and managers with a criminal past
  • owners who return from trips to find that their unit has been used during their absence
  • thefts in suites