Rules are made to be broken!
Just see the photo below…
But whether or not you are a rule-breaker, you have to acknowledge and accept that dozens of your condominiums rules and by-laws are being broken, all day, every day, and even as we speak.
Some people break the rules because they don’t know any better, and some people just plain don’t care.
Here are, in my experience, the five most-broken rules in downtown Toronto condominiums…
Let’s face it: this list is just a start!
I’m sure you can come up with another dozen rules and regulations that are broken in your building on a regular basis.
And who, if any of you, will admit to breaking the rules on this list?
I’ll be honest – this list is comprised of the most commonly broken rules as I see them from the perspective of a Realtor, but also through my own experiences.
And by “my own experiences,” I mean that I’m guilty…
Anyways, let’s get to the list.
#5) Anything And Everything Regarding The Garbage Chute…
This list could go on, and on, and on.
And depending on exactly which rules apply to your building, I could even be missing a few.
Garbage left on the floor. Are we children? Do we really need a notice that says, “Please do not leave garbage on the floor”? Yeah, we do! This rule is constantly broken because human beings lack common courtesy, and respect for other people.
Using the chute after 10pm. This is a hard-and-fast rule in most condos, but again, most people don’t care. Just because property management puts up a sign that says, “The garbage chute is open for service from 9am to 10pm,” doesn’t mean people are going to listen. If you threw a massive party, and wanted to clean up at 2am, would you bag up all your garbage and bottles and leave them in your front hallway? or Would you toss them down the chute and wake up to a clean condo? This is why man condos have chutes that lock at 10:00pm.
Not using the tri-sorter. I’ll be honest: I don’t use organics. I just don’t! Please don’t hate me, and for the record, I don’t know what a “carbon footprint” really refers to. I recycle, but I don’t keep a separate bin for rotting food, which likely represents about 3% of all the items I put down the chute. But that aside, I know a LOT of people throw ALL their items down the chute at once, or throw garbage down chute when the “Recycling” button is lit, or vice versa. Is it really true that the entire load of recycling is “tainted” if there’s garbage among it?
Throwing large items down the chute. Again, you can’t stop people from being stupid. Remember when my client sent me a photo of the ironing board that somebody jammed down the chute in his condo? Who throws a goddam ironing board down a garbage chute!?!?!?
#4) Abusing “Visitor” Parking
You might not realize it, but a LOT of condominium residents park in visitor parking.
This one really bothers me.
I had a friend in my old building that used to encourage his friends and family to use our visitor parking. I remember seeing his cousin in the underground parking one day, and I said, “Oh hey, (name), are you going up to see (name)?” She said, “No, we’re just heading over to the Jays game!”
The goddam Jays game? As in – the building that’s a couple blocks away from here?
How cheap is that? She’s trying to save $15 for parking downtown by parking in a building she doesn’t live in?
My friend did this all the time, and it bothered me.
Even worse, are the people that live in the building, and don’t have a parking space but own a car – and insist on parking in visitor parking every night. Currently in my building, there are no less than five parking spaces for lease, ranging from $120 to $150 per month, and I’m sure you could get one for a hundred bucks. I know that’s $1,200 per year, and people aren’t made of money, but isn’t “visitor parking” for visitors?
I was on the board of a condo once where a guy living in the building insisted that his girlfriend have exclusive use of one of the mere seven visitor parking spaces that were in the building. Even though she lived with him (he had a car, and his own space), he argued that she was a visitor, and thus should be able to park there every day, and night.
The abuse of visitor parking in Toronto condos is absolutely rampant.
#3) Disabling The Fire Alarm
If you’ve never lived in a condo, allow me to explain how life works…
On Tuesday morning at 112-116 George Street, they are doing the monthly fire alarm testing. That’s right – monthly. At 8:00am, they will sound the alarm, and then a voice will come through the loudspeaker (oh yeah that’s right – each and every condo has at least one loudspeaker where a person can basically yell into your bedroom):
“Attention, attention. This is a test of the fire alarm. In the event of a real emergency, we will notify you as such. Feel free to take part in this drill, and exit the building through the stairs, to meet in the lobby. Thank you.”
Then, it REPEATS! In case we didn’t hear it the first time!
And those words are spoken slowly, as though the person saying them only has a minute left on earth, and wants to savour it.
In my mind, there’s very little difference between the situation above, and, say, a person coming into your bedroom as you sleep, standing over your head, and yelling “Attention, attention…..”
Now imagine a 4am fire alarm goes off because somebody burnt a pizza in the oven? And you don’t want to wait 40 minutes for the Fire Marshal to get there, inspect the building, and give the go-ahead to silence the alarm?
Well, I suppose that’s when you get out your ladder, take screw driver, open up the speaker, and cut the wires.
I know about……oh……..a hundred million people who have done this. Give or take…
#2) All Renovations Require Permission
A client asked me on Sunday night, “Some condo by-laws say things like, ‘At least 65% of the gross floor area must be carpeted,’ so what if the whole unit is hardwood?”
A dozen lawyers will have a dozen different answers to this question, and personally, I’ve witnessed some ridiculous by-laws regarding renovation, most of which are not enforced.
I tell my clients that a reasonable rule of thumb is that you can change what you can see – your flooring, your kitchen counters, your backsplash, etc. Once you want to change something you can’t see, like plumbing, electrical, etc., you need the condo’s permission, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it.
However, many you will be quick to point out that changing flooring might need the permission of the condo board. Sure, it might. But it’s also illegal to jaywalk at Bay & Adelaide, even though there is an actual footpath on the asphalt from so many feet shuffling through the street.
Some property managers will say, “Just drop off a sample of the flooring, and you’re good to go.” Other condominiums have to wait until their monthly board meeting to “approve” the renovation.
So if the condo board is meeting on April 8th, but I want to have somebody install new hardwood flooring on March 5th, I have to wait? Is that reasonable?
Again, some people are sticklers for the rules, and others aren’t. Some people don’t get permission at all.
My condominium put up a notice last week that said, “Renovation forms can be picked up at concierge or through property management,” and then added at the bottom, “NOTE: painting does not require a permission form.”
Well holy $#@%&. Thank God I can paint my own walls without getting the permission of the board…
#1) No Barbecues On Outdoor Space
Guys, I know you feel me on this one.
You just can’t get between a man and his barbecue, especially in Canada.
Many men are born with a small plastic hockey stick in one hand, and a stainless steel spatula for the barbecue in the other.
So when it comes to downtown condominiums, try telling a man, “Sorry, you can’t have a barbecue on your balcony.”
In actual fact, barbecues are ALL illegal on balconies, terraces, or any outdoor space, unless there is a gas-line built into the exterior wall of the condo, or the condominium’s Declaration specifically notes that barbecues ARE permitted.
So yeah, about 90% of all the barbecues you see on condo balconies are illegal.
But do the owners care?
I have always lived in condos where barbecues ARE permitted, but I’ll be perfectly honest here and admit that if they weren’t, I’d probably still make an attempt to have one.
And I’m not in the minority here either.
How you get the propane tank through the lobby, and past the concierge, is another story. I recommend using a baby carriage, and just covering the propane tank with a blanket. If somebody asks, “How old is she,” just pretend you don’t speak English…
My buyer-clients always ask me about the legality of barbecues, and there’s only one answer I can give them:
“As your Realtor, I’ll tell you that you have to do whatever the rules and regulations and by-laws of the condominium provide for. You must strictly adhere to those guidelines, otherwise you could be liable. As a condo-owner, and avid barbecue-enthusiast, I can tell you that there’s a very good chance you can have a barbecue and nobody will ever know, and usually the worst thing that happens is you get a letter from the property manager, which may or may not ever be followed up on.”
What more can I say?
People come to me for honesty, and that’s about as honest as I can be. I know that there are thousands of illegal barbecues in downtown Toronto condos, so I’m not going to pretend as though it doesn’t happen.
I’m not encouraging the use of illegal barbecues, but I am going to explain to people that you won’t go to jail for having one.
So what did I miss?
What other rules do you think are most-commonly broken?
And who wants to admit to breaking any of the rules above?