Condoland is like a dream come true, for everyone but the consumer!
All levels of government love Condoland as it represents “a gift that just keeps on giving” through income taxes, property taxes, levies, hook-up fees, registration fees, warranty fees, etc.
And Developers make a sinful amount!
I say sinful because they haven’t ever invested in developing a standard of quality of their product while jacking up prices at unexplainable rates.
Realtors have been making out like bandits, without really having to deliver any service at all.
Lawyers also have been doing quite well, as have architects, engineers, construction workers, property managers, and well, the list goes on, and on, and on.
The only one actually paying anything is the consumer, and for their money, they are ripped off in epic proportions!
Imagine, in the almost four decades that I navigated the streets of Condoland, I haven’t seen one meaningful development in technology (hey developers are still including old world thermostats that can’t even be programmed for energy efficiency!).
Wouldn’t you think that by now, in return for those prices that have shot up almost 300% in the past decade and a half, we would see “sound proof condo residences” (where owners and occupants didn’t have to hear the normal conversations of their neighbours on both sides), or how about not having to breath cigarette smoke in your unit even with the doors and windows closed!
We have seen absolutely no effort to integrate the conceptual concept of creative architects into energy efficiency or “building science” technologies that have evolved.
We are still building our residential condos without adequate oversight and/or inspection and we haven’t imposed any barriers at all for developers to have to reach.
We are building buildings, on a “lowest bid per process” that is dysfunctional at its core!
The entire process, from the Condo Act, through Tarion Warranty, to Building Code, to over site, to the inclusion of the concept of “Occupancy“, to a flawed technical audit process, to well-meaning unskilled volunteers running these major corporations, to shady property management companies enjoying kick-backs and outright theft, and now, my research shows me that the physical products being used to build them (exterior walls to be very specific) are actually financial IED’s (“Improvised Explosive Devices“) just waiting to go off!
So, what is missing in this picture that profiles Condoland?
This question is answered in one word . . . . . “Integrity“.
It is a lack of integrity that has allowed the Condo Act, for example to perpetuate the myth of consumer protection, when it was written by lawyers, many of whom work for and represent condo developers.
And it was written so long ago and allowed to flounder for all these decades that you can rest assured making any meaningful change can only be called a “long shot” or “moon shot” and reshaping the monolith that is government is not something to be approached lightly.
And yet the problem is so severe, that I’ve been left with no choice but to put my career as a Realtor on hold, to try to present the mess that is Condoland to the public in the hope that enough consumers will catch on and support my efforts to “fix this very broken machine“.
The way that developers are allowed to sell these condos lacks “Integrity”.
The way developers are allowed to advertise to sell these condos lacks “Integrity”.
The concept of “Occupancy” lacks “Integrity”.
The concept of “Occupancy Fees” including a “Phantom Mortgage” lacks “Integrity”.
The contracts that developers absolutely lacks “Integrity”.
The way developers are allowed to build these condos lacks “Integrity”.
The fact that developers are allowed to build “to minimum standard of the Building Code” lacks “Integrity”.
And now, the piece de resistance, the physical product (the exterior “Window Wall” envelope technology) delivering a 15 – 20 year life span (providing it is installed properly) absolutely lacks “Integrity”.
At absolutely every turn, the consumer is compromised.
As a consumer, you have got to be ready fight losing battles just to try to get deficiencies remedied.
How could that be, if we had a legitimate “Warranty Program” for consumers?
Tarion Warranty Program absolutely lacks “Integrity”.
So, we are being told that we finally, after all my 36 years in the business, have seen legislation pass to introduce what is being called a beneficial re-write of the Condo Act, but as usual, it ends up “window dressing” to enable all vested parties to defend their positions about it being a “level playing field” and the scam will be allowed to perpetuate itself for decades more going forward.
The truth is that it is not a “re-write” it simply adds a couple of relatively inconsequential Amendments requiring property managers to be licensed and calling for a consumer protection agency to be formed.
Imaging the hundreds of billions of dollars in residential condo sales over the past four decades and finally we are looking at these two issues!
And, by the way, the Amended Condo Act is not going to actually do anything for a couple more years.
Does that tell you anything.
Over a decade ago, I met with Rosario Marchese, (past NDP member of Parliament) who fought for all this over ten years before, only to be shut down every time (have I mentioned that developers donate to political parties?)!
So now, over a decade later the actually pass into law, an Amendment to fix things down the road a couple years.
Are you seeing how the game is played in Condoland?
And not a single word about developers building these glass towers without any oversight what-so-ever, and building them on a “lowest bid basis“!
The governments talk about this evil “Underground Economy” knowing that the construction industry is one of the major players here, yet doesn’t connect the dots!
My thinking is always based on math, and when I put together the formula of:
20,000 units per year x 16 years (the time since Window Wall construction was introduced) 32,000 consumers owning condos (I’m talking of just downtown Toronto here) that very well may face a financial Tsunami due to these Window Wall systems failing!
The 15 – 20 year life cycle of these exterior wall systems is what the manufacturers represent if and when the system is installed properly.
Pictures that I’ve recently published, clearly show that in Condoland, they are not being installed properly.
Installation manuals clearly state that “aluminum must be separated from curing cement or a chemical reaction results“.
These photographs clearly show that “no insulation” is being used on these active residential condo towers being built in Toronto today!
It is important to note that present residential condo budgets DO NOT include a fund to offset the published replacement cost!
That means, that should the early Window Wall condo buildings, those built around 2000 and moving forward, are in “the replacement time frame” for this product already, and their Reserve Funds will not have the funds to undertake the replacement of their exterior envelope!
This will lead to “Special Assessment” levied against each unit owner proportionate to the size of their unit.
The replacement of the entire exterior envelope of the building could run in the millions of dollars resulting in horrific costs to be burdened onto each owner, many of whom may not be able to pay and who would then, end up in bankruptcy.
The condo corporation itself could go bankrupt should the findings conclude that it is the condo corporation that is required to cover the replacement cost.
The owners would still have to move out and back in when the work is done and rent somewhere for the time required.
Those who declare bankruptcy would devalue the condo and sales would dry up.
Those owners with high ratio mortgages would also resulting pass on the financial dilemma on to CMHC who guarantees their mortgages.
This is why I refer to it as a possible Tsunami, as it will literally build itself into a roller that could sweep away the financial security of millions of people, of banks, and governments!
I’m not trying to sew fear.
I’m trying to set out a mess that is festering just below the surface of Condoland.
I’m seeking your participation and help to make this issue known and understood and ask you to “like” this article if you are reading it on social media and comment if you are at my site, simplycharles.com (comments on my site get much broader exposure and interaction).
Condoland is seriously lacking in Integrity and its time that consumers do something about it!
It is obvious that only the consumer can save the consumer.
I’ve read 5 articles on this site so far (condomadness shared the link to your article on Twitter…so glad they did); boy oh boy, what a mess. I’ve had to deal with a lot on the micro level of Condo land (unresponsive/dismissive mgmt/board, issues with transparency and communication etc…) I feel that consumers trust their realators implicitly during the buying process and then continue trusting board/management without actually reading the AGM package, corporation docs, etc…
Those who do ask to view docs, are either dissuaded or out right denied (then painted as a trouble maker). If I knew half of what I know now, I would have never purchased a condo. Period. Renting is the way to go.
Thanks for writing on this subject; many don’t want to. I’ll keep sharing and reading!