Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It's Time to Update the Ontario Condominium Act

Don't know what chances it has, but I'm for this, from Trinity-Spadina Ontario NDP MPP Rosario Marchese:
Dear Friends,

Did you know the law that governs your condo hasn’t been changed in 14 years?

On May 10, I will be introducing legislation to improve Ontario’s Condominium Act.  If my bill is passed, Ontario’s laws will finally reflect the interests of condo owners. My proposals include the following:  
  • The creation of a Condo Review Board to settle disputes between condo owners, boards, property managers and developers. (Currently, disputes must be settled through the courts at great financial cost.)
  • Establishes better building and soundproofing standards.
  • Prevents developers from asking owners to move into unfinished buildings.
  • Extends developer responsibility for condo fees from one to three years.  
  • Improves Tarion warranty protections on new condos and provides warranty coverage for conversion condos such as lofts.
  • Requires developers to use good faith language in contracts and to disclose any business names they have used in the past.
  • Requires property managers to be licensed by the Province.
I will be speaking at information sessions about my condo bill on the following dates:

CityPlace Residents’ Association Town Hall Meeting
Date: Sunday, May 6.
Time: 3-5 PM.
Location: Renaissance Hotel (next to the Rogers Centre).

King West Community Meeting
Date: Wednesday, May 9.
Time: 7-9 PM.
Location: Thomson Hotel, Wellington Room (550 Wellington Street West, south of King and Bathurst).
My wife and I both bought new condos off plans in the early 2000s before we met.  Mine went okay as far as these things go, but hers was a debacle with a developer who clearly was not playing in good faith, and took advantage of every loophole and a few that aren't even loopholes but that they know they can get away with.  Almost every item on that list would have been a tremendous help to her, and Tarion proved to be toothless or captured by the developers based on how it handled her complaints.  There was a litany of ridiculous things the developer did, but the most egregious was how they rushed to get the occupancy permit, then cancelled it at the last minute (after she had already booked movers) and even when she did get legal occupancy, she only had power to one item in the whole unit, a light by the entrance, clearly done to fool the inspector that the unit had power (no stove, fridge, lights anywhere else, etc).  That had to be illegal.

As a first time homebuyer you really only have the option to sue over stuff like this, and the reality is that isn't likely to happen over a collection of small stuff, your instinct is always to just get through it.

I know this is mostly an upper-middle class problem and all, but still no reason to let these scumbag fly-by-night developers bilk people.  This is all part of the decline of the middle class as you get fleeced at every opportunity and the law is always on the side of the powerful.  The bit about forcing disclosure of other names the developer has operated under is a pretty good idea.  Some of the bigger developers with established reputations to protect are generally pretty good for that reason, but currently that's really the only worthwhile consumer protection there is when it comes to new condo purchases, and you definitely pay a premium for the big name builders.  Even that is no surety, as established brands have been known to decide to cash in on their residual good will at times and churn out some junk for a quick profit.

There's no social advantage I can see to letting shoddy developers put up crap buildings that their owners hate and take a loss selling off.  Condo buildings are going to be there for decades, they should be built well and if a few shoddy developers stop doing business, in an overheated real estate market I can't see how that's a negative.  Ontario has a minority government right now so it's a chance for the age-old formula of the NDP pulling the Liberals left to work again.  My wife and I are unlikely to ever buy a new condo again, but no reason anyone else should go through what she did.

I wrote the Premier and Margarett Best, the Minister of Consumer Services.  Private Members bills rarely make it to law, but this is a good idea and I hope this one does.

1 comment:

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