Not only did Larlyn Property Management allow it, they obviously felt that it was alright!
Now, I try to be a very understanding person.
Once you see, and get a grasp on, the consistent and systemic abuse of condo owners under the ill-fated Condo Act, toothless Warranty Protection through Tarion, inept Building Codes that all developers to pass off seriously flawed buildings and building technology, exploitive property managers getting kick-backs and other perks, unskilled “underground economy” construction workers, unskilled and uninformed Boards of Directors, and security guards masquerading as “concierges“, you begin to see the severity of the Crisis in Condoland.
A couple years ago while still blogging under my original web identity: www.simplycondos.com, I exposed some pretty harrowing facts about how property management companies were ripping off condo owners.
A good example (but rest assured there are hundreds more of these) of this can be seen in the recently published articles about Minto Plaza being “ripped off” for hundreds of thousands of dollars by it’s property management company on one instance and by its board of directors on another.
The “flushing down the toilet” component of this resulted in a settlement of $460,033.90 so this should not be seen as in any way isolated or inconsistent with what goes on in Condoland, even after your condo has registered and is under the management of the owners!
Now, Larlyn Property Management was not a party to any of that action.
Larlyn is the property management company retained by our condo corporation’s (TSCC 1961) Board of Directors after we ran the same company named in this article, out of our building at College Park (761 Bay St.).
I’ve long advised all condo corporations to immediately, at the “Turn Over Meeting” (when the condo corporation forms and becomes the property of its shareholders, the owners) terminate ALL CONTRACTS, specifically but not limited to the property management company and the security guard company.
The reasons are simply logical and not personal at all.
These two independent contractors (whoever they are) want future contracts from the developer so they aren’t likely to do anything to offend them or disrupt their existing or future contracts with them.
Where I come from its called “flagrant conflict of interest“!
I’ve written many times before both here on simplycharles.com and on simplycondos.com about “the systemic over-paying of property management companies in Condoland? (for example: our one tower pays Larlyn approximately a quarter million dollars a year for a job that a $50,000/year individual should do).
This is but another thing that has got to be fixed here in dysfunctional Condoland.
So, if you are paying a 500% Premium for this basic management service, one would tend to anticipate and expect “world class services“.
Well, you couldn’t be farther from the truth!
That quarter of a million dollars a year goes to some company that has virtually nothing to do with the building.
They hire that $40,000 – $50,000 administrator to sit at the desk and play property manager when in reality they can hardly manage to get to work, let alone serve as an overseer and protector of the best interest of the condo corporation and/or its owners.
At College Park II, they actually pay two people to fill this simple administrative function (stills gives the head office over $150k/year clear).
Yet no-one ever asks “why the condo corporation over-pays for services by so much“!
So we have the property management company grabbing a quarter million dollars out of the coffers of our corporation, and a security guard company (represented as an “Executive Concierge” like in a hotel, but who really is just a minimum wage security guard that might be sitting at an empty warehouse next week) catching another quarter of a million dollars a year from the owners.
I have to say for the record here that at College Park II we do have one guard (“Andrew“) who has taken it upon himself to deliver concierge services, but on the whole, it is security guard’s that you get.
A half million dollars a year from the consumers who collectively own the condo corporation, and what do we get?
Well, I have a townhouse in this development that I use as an income property and in between residences (when I sell one, and have to wait for another to be built) we use it ourselves (you have to pay Capital Gains Tax on the increase in value from when you moved out if you used it as your principal residence when you move back in again to use it for personal use).
We moved back into into it a couple years back (our Oakville home that I’ve been blogging about recently is over a year late being completed) and one of the first things that I noticed was that one night guard (we supposedly have two, one to watch all the video camera material and the other a “roaming guard” which to me suggests that this guard allegedly walks the property making sure everything is “safe and secure” as in “security“, or what they are hired to do), the “roaming guard” was missing in action every night that he was on.
I would know when he was on duty because he consistently illegally parks his car in the loading bay where owners are not allowed to (does this in itself make any sense to anyone?).
I get up every morning around 4:00 a.m. (this is actually my favourite time of the day) so I make a habit of trying to find this “roaming guard” (after all it shouldn’t be too difficult as he should be out there “roaming” right?) and not once have I ever seen him during his shift other than in the morning religiously at 5:45 a.m. as he bolts for his car to head home.
I have taken this issue to our property manager on a number of occasions (living in a condo is a community type thing and I feel it each owners responsibility to keep management informed and on its toes) over the past two years, only to have him consistently tell me that “we are lucky to have them“.
What kind of dysfunctional logic would lead any “employee” or “contractor” or “agent” of a company to refuse to address the very serious issue of “NO SECURITY” when the company pays a quarter million dollars a year FOR SECURITY?
But, dysfunctional or not, our property manager (“Larlyn Property Management”) has adamantly refused to address this very significant issue (I can’t travel as my wife has encountered scary men hanging around the property in the wee hours while taking her small dogs out for their morning bathroom break) despite my repeated complaints.
You see, the way the dysfunction in Condoland is set up, there really is nothing that anyone of the owners can do as you need such high percentages of owners to physically sign on to anything, that it just becomes impossible to impose change.
Now, I can’t come up with the flawed logic that leads to this situation.
Our guy is a nice enough guy but totally ill-equipped to do this job, sits in his office and plays manager but invests absolutely nothing of himself.
I’ve never seen him present during any hours other than his posted work schedule.
What about “preventive maintenance“?!?
And if an owner is telling the property manager, that the security staff are “sleeping on the job, to the point where an owner’s wife is no longer comfortable stepping out side”!!!) and he refuses to do anything, what can be done?
The answer is disappointingly simple . . . . nothing!
If you have a real estate driven blog, you can try to “ shame them by showing factual detail of what is going on and show the contradiction between what they are doing and what they are being paid to do“.
You’ve also got to ask yourself why would this be happening in the first place.
So, this morning I’m showing this security guard doing his usual morning ritual of waking up and leaving for home.
What a job!
For at least two years, this guy has gotten a good night’s sleep (while shafting owners of the security they are paying for)! And he probably has another job that he goes to during the day, well rested and paid for having just gotten a good night’s sleep.
This is about as egregious as our property manager repeatedly standing in a “No Smoking” area at our townhouses, at numerous times during the day having his cigarette breaks!
Talk about setting precedent!
How can anyone blame the other idiot smokers following suit?
So much for “management of the property” or “property management”! But we owners continue to pay our $1,000/month despite getting nothing for it in return!
So, this morning I burned off my daily workout quickly, having seen his car illegally parked as usual (it is offensive that as an owner I can’t have my guests park there even for minutes but these guys can park there for hours) and waited with my camera in hand to try and catch him exiting his lair with pillow in hand! (“with PILLOW IN HAND”!!!).
But it seemed that he simply was not coming and then I realized that I was sitting there on camera and if the stationary guard at the desk was doing what he was supposed to be doing (this is not usually the case either) he would have seen me and could have called “Sleepy” and warned him.
Now it could have been a coincidence that he over slept or actually hadn’t gotten his “z‘s” this particular night but to me that would have to be a coincidence so my “contingency theories” kicked in and I concluded that it was much more likely that the desk guard had warned him.
So I went into the spa area and did the Reader’s Digest version of my steam bath and shower and quickly reappeared a full twenty minutes after his normal departure, and as I exited the spa area, who do I run into but “Sleepy” with his purple pillow in hand.
I’ve been complaining to our property manager and Board (I send him the emails as I don’t have board members email addresses but address my correspondence to the board and his fiduciary obligations require that he deliver them) for over two years about this guy “sleeping on the job” and “stripping owners ability to receive the security that they pay for“.
Now, my new house is almost ready, so this matter really impacts me less than the other 400 – 500 owners in this condo corporation, but right is right and wrong is wrong and this picture (worth a thousand words) is simply downright wrong!
Usually in life my recommendation is that when you see something wrong, do something about it, but in Condoland you just can’t as you need an extreme percentage of owners signatures to do anything and with so many non-resident owners that is virtually impossible.
This is but one of the many areas that I’m trying to address with my upcoming book “Crisis in Condoland“!
Trying to fix any of the plethora of problems faced in Condoland is a monumental task that I ask each and every reader and condo owner out there, to help me with.
This fight is not mine alone!
Another issues that I would legitimately raise is Larlyn’s (and our Board’s) ignoring vital cleaning issues on the property. Above is a photo that I took this morning of our townhouses, for which we pay over $1,000/month in maintenance fees, with cob webs and dirt clearly having been this way for months!
Even though my voice is heard around the world (1.6 Million active viewers in August) it is not always heard down the street, and these issues are local in nature, but by no means unique to College Park.
If every reader would forward this blog onto ten friends, family members and/or acquaintances and ask them to comment and/or send in their condo stories, we may be able to build the type of momentum that is needed to facilitate change.
After all, it’s not just my fight.