‘Dark and cold world’: Sudden 113% increase in condominium fees sparks unpleasant conflict and threats
TORONTO – When condo fees more than doubled at a North York apartment building, it sparked an unpleasant dispute involving legal threats, creepy emails and conspiracy charges, according to a new Superior Court ruling. Ontario.
And now the board of directors of the Emerald Park condo business units at Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue are hoping that a new court order against harassment and threats will provide some relief – and allow them to get to the bottom of it. surprise fee increases that are common at many new builds in Ontario.
“It kept me awake at night. I couldn’t sleep,” said William Liu, a board member who says he’s as surprised as anyone to see the fees rise in the first five years of service. opening of the building.
“One hundred and thirteen percent on our unit is a lot. For example, my fees went from around $ 500 per month to around $ 1,000 per month,” he said.
It was tough for his business, a smartphone and tech repair company. But others in the building took it worse.
Soon, according to the court ruling, a group of homeowners blamed the board for the financial problems, issuing multiple threats of lawsuits, bribery charges and something called “civil conspiracy” and creepy emails.
One of them said, “I will find you in Singapore, where you hide and train in my dark and cold world.
Tensions have kept it from tackling why fees have risen so much, said another unit owner, Leo Papageorge.
“Obviously it’s in our common interest to get our fees up to where they should be, so when you have someone throwing stones at people for nothing, it makes it ten times harder.” , said Papageorge.
The issue of the sudden increase in condominium fees is not limited to this building. A report from the Auditor General of Ontario in 2020 found that many developers had sold units using understated amounts for condominium fees in their initial budgets – and had not included planned spending.
A poll in the report found that about half of condominium boards have seen their fees increase by up to 30 percent. About four in ten boards saw it increase more than that. One in 10 didn’t know.
At the time, the Auditor General recommended that developers provide additional information on planned increases in spending on common spaces, give boards more time to claim increased amounts, and borrow best practices from the community. ‘other jurisdictions.
In Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, the developer must put money in trust to be made available to the condominium company, according to the report, and in British Columbia, developers who under -estimate the expenses must pay a penalty that doubles if the expenses are 10% higher or triples if the expenses are 20% higher.
“There are no similar provisions in Ontario,” the report said.
At the time, the Ontario government said following these recommendations would require more legislation. This is a process the Ontario government is going through as it revamps the Condominium Act.
It should have been done a long time ago, said NDP MP Jessica Bell, critic for housing, planning and tenants’ rights.
“The Auditor General has seen very clearly that there are many condominium residents moving into buildings facing a sudden increase in condominium fees because developers consistently underestimate condominium fees at the time of sale. It is not fair. Condominium residents deserve to know how much they are going to pay to have a building well maintained. They have rights, ”she said.
One thing the government should do is require a third party to analyze the planned spending so that residents do not speak to a developer who is also interested in selling the units in the building.
Lawsuits continue in the Emerald Park building, seeking to uncover exactly why fees have increased, with the condo board hiring a forensic auditor.
The judge in this case issued an injunction saying that the owners of the condominium unit cannot threaten or harass Liu or other board members, which Liu says is helping him sleep again. the night.