Halloween in Condos: It Doesn’t Need to be Frightening?!?

stencil-default-10Yes, it is a bit early for this topic, but I love everything about Autumn, including Halloween! If you have any Halloween enthusiasts in your complex you’ll likely see the decorations out in the next few weeks (if your rules allow decorations) so it may be a relevant topic sooner than you think.

Halloween can cause all kinds of headaches for boards and managers in condominiums. There are safety and security concerns with young children going door-to-door and running around on the property. Maybe you have rules prohibiting decorations.  Maybe you have a very diverse group of residents with different ideas about Halloween. Maybe you’ve had issues with vandalism in the past on the day before Halloween (sometimes called “Devil’s Night” or “Mischief Night”). Whatever the issue, Halloween in your condominium doesn’t need to be frightening for the board or manager.  Continue reading

Can the Condo Demand My Dog’s DNA?

dogToday I was on Newstalk1010 with Jim Richards to discuss an annoying enforcement issue faced by many property managers – dog waste left on the common elements. The question posed to me was this: can the condominium demand that an owner provide his dog’s DNA for enforcement purposes?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could identify the dog (and its owner) by examining the waste left on the common elements? That would make enforcement pretty easy, right? Well a new service promises to do just that. PooPrints will create a DNA database for all of the dogs in the condominium using a simple cheek swab. When dog waste is left on the property a sample is sent to the company and they let the manager know which dog left it. If a match is found the costs of testing and clean-up are charged to the owner of the dog.  Continue reading

Guest Post: Minute Taking Made Easy

I’ve been to so many meetings where the property manager or board did not want to take the minutes that I’ve lost count. One option might be to hire a professional minute taker. It is a pretty common practice in the GTA, but less popular in other areas. Today’s guest post, by Marko Lindhe and Noah Maislin of Minute Solutions, describes some of the benefits of using professional minute takers.

Minute Taking Made Easy

Taking minutes at condo meetings is a task that needs to be done: it’s the law and helps protect boards from liability. Unfortunately, it can be a daunting task that requires the minute taker’s undivided attention and is a specific skill and responsibility that many individuals are not willing to shoulder. There is pressure to ensure that the minutes are taken correctly, the salient components are included, and, just as important, superfluous discussions and redundancies are avoided. As most board members and property managers understand, minutes should be succinct while ensuring all motions, action items and important conversations regarding potential decisions are clearly recorded – for example, contractors’ quotes, financial figures and projects that involve spending other people’s money. Continue reading

Trespassing in Condos

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trespassTrespassing is an issue many condominiums have to address at some point in time. Maybe the condominium is located beside a local hangout, like a school, a mall, or a park. Maybe the common elements include features that attract people to the property, like railings for skateboarding or a large green space for tossing a football around. Whatever the reason it is likely that your condominium will have uninvited people on the property at some point.

A trespasser is a person who, without legal right, enters another’s property when entry is prohibited, engages in a prohibited activity on the property, or does not leave immediately when asked. Section 2 of the Trespass to Property Act makes trespassing an offence punishable by a fine of not more than $2,000.00.  Continue reading

Ambiguous Condo Docs Cause Another Dispute

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bookI’m often asked to review condominium documents because the language used is not clear. One reason is the legalese used by many lawyers when drafting the documents. (“Now herewithin witnesseth” really?). Do we think it makes us sound smart? Whatever the reason, it needs to stop!

If we want the owners to read the documents (and we should) we need to make them easy to read. The owners shouldn’t need a law degree to understand them! Plain, clear, and unambiguous language needs to become the norm.

Why am I ranting about this today? Because I just read another case where a dispute arose because of unclear language in the declaration.

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How to Calculate the First Year Budget Deficit

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Unfortunately, many budget statements are grossly inadequate, which leads to significant deficits in the first year and sharp increases in fees in subsequent years. The fees are kept unreasonably low and/or expenses are estimated at unrealistic amounts to make it seem like a better purchase than it really is. Luckily for condominiums and owners, there is a remedy available to them.  Continue reading

Owner not oppressed by by-law restricting use of parking spaces

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I recently read an interesting case about parking rights in a commercial condominium. The applicant was the owner of three units, which were leased for use as a restaurant. The owner commenced an application against her condominium after it passed a by-law restricting parking in common element spaces.

Historically parking was allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. This led to problems with insufficient parking for customers and employees of many of the units. In 2009 the Board passed a by-law to change the allocation of parking spaces. The by-law allocated two parking spots to each unit. In 2014 the Board discovered that the by-law was never registered so it was not valid. The Board passed another by-law in 2015 to fix the problem. The 2015 by-law increased the number of parking spaces per unit to four. The result was that the restaurant had significantly less available parking for its customers.

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