There is no doubt that having effective property management not only ensures present enjoyment of property but preserves its future value. So what happens when a condominium gets to a certain state where property management refuses to manage?
Unfortunately, one 44-unit condominium corporation in Saskatchewan is dealing with this very unusual situation. One owner said it’s “like living in a war zone” while another owner sold his unit for a $70,000 loss. Many units remain empty. The stairways and halls are strewn with used needles and syringes, clothing, food and garbage.
It’s difficult to say just when the sad state of decline and disrepair at Prairie Heights condominium began. Many owners and former owners claim it began when one or two people, who had each purchased ‘blocks’ of 10-plus units, failed to properly screen tenants they rented their units to.
Local fire and police have been called on numerous occasions. Many calls required safety inspections but other calls to police were for weapons, domestic disputes and public intoxication. At one point, vandals even caused significant flooding to the building and parking garage. Needless to say, property managers quit and could not be hired to manage the site. The responsibility was left to the Board of Directors to maintain the property and collect condo fees.
Substantial bills for repairs remain unpaid and the fire department has issued multiple orders to repair the property’s fire protection systems. At the same time, owners are refusing to pay their condo fees.
Without a property manager to handle the corporation’s affairs and leaving it up to the Board, many functions, like collecting monthly fees, have fallen through the cracks.
There are several important lessons to learn from this unfortunate story both for owners and for board members.
For owners, you need to do appropriate screening of your tenants. If you want to preserve your investment, this is a must.
For board members, you retain management to manage, so direct management accordingly. Any resident not complying with the rules or the condominium documentation, should be dealt with as soon as it occurs. Whether it is simple reminder or a stronger letter from legal counsel if it is a safety concern, you must act on it. Managing also includes ensuring that the property is well maintained and increasing common expenses to pay for repairs if they are needed.
This is an unfortunate story impacting a whole community. A condominium should never be put in a position in which management refuses to manage. Doing so will not only destroy a community but could expose the board to potential liability for failure to fulfill their duties as a board.
This particular community has so many challenges ahead. One local community association has voiced its concern about focusing less on “nuisance tenants” and more on mental health and addictions recovery. Just another important issue that will need to be addressed moving forward.