Five Rules That Residents Of Your Condo Are Breaking

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…

NoPhotography

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!”

Really?

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.

Really?

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?

That’s rhetorical…

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?

24 Comments

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  1. bob says:

    what can I do about a tenant in the basement of our 3 story building, who keeps propping the fire door so her kid can run around in the common aread

    1. Randy says:

      Hello , I am a building manager in a condo complex . We have two doors in our underground that have pins on them that allow you to open the door , and drop the pin so the door can be left open to carry materials in . But this was getting abused and as these are fire separation doors we talked to our fire dept and to resolve this as our fire dept wanted these pins removed . we posted a sign on each door with the fire code reference number and also this sign says if door left open for more than 15 minutes . The offender leaving this door open can be charged through the fire code act . We do have cameras watching both doors so we can monitor this so it is something you have to have proof of if you call your fire dept. in to charge someone . The fine for this is $290 plus court costs , and it is the fire dept. rep who will issue the offense . This did solve our issue of doors being left open for the most part , and the pins got to stay on the doors for proper use .

  2. Josh says:

    Our building is forcing us to take our lights down on our terrace stating a regulation hat only the declarant can install lights. Currently there are no light install anywhere on the terrace and it is very dark, hard to see and does fetch rain and snow/ice which is dangerous. I would like to follow the condo regulations but also don’t want to slip and fall when I use my terrace and I use it mostly in the dark early morning hours by myself as I work nights. What should I do?

  3. Klye says:

    Is there a toronto bylaw regarding condo owner ‘s who install engineer flooring without any underlayment. No cork no sound barrier. The owner glued his engineer boards down. I live at 51 Trolley Crescent. The management company is brookfield management. I made a complaint. Nothing came of it. I made a complaint to the board. Nothing. What are my options.

    1. Doreen Harrison says:

      I live in a strata building in BC. My new upstairs neighbors are a nightmare, they are very heavy footed and items are being dropped or dragged across the hardwood floor almost daily. They got approval for some renos in June,2016. They only needed to replace flooring but now, after informing the Property Managers that they would be completing this in Oct. they have decided to wait until return from Texas in April of 2017. I feel that once they had approval they should have completed the flooring work, instead he does a bit of work, here and there. He has table saw on his balcony, he has been told he cannot leave it there when they leave for the winter. He thinks it is his own little workshop, right above my head! I feel that once you have been given approval for a reno, you should get it done, it will be ten months from approval to finish! I am so tired of this and I will be glad when they leave for the winter! They have no idea about strata living and still think they have a house! Surely there should be time limit on renos.

    2. Doreen Harrison says:

      In my building, owners have to seek approval for certain renos. Hardwood flooring is one of them. We require a certain underlay and we require the flooring to be done by qualified tradespeople. Personally, I think that only certain floors in a building should have laminate floors. If your floor is someone’s ceiling, you should be required to have carpet. Even with the correct underlay, if you have heavy footed people living above you, people who drop items on the floor and drag furniture around, it is a nightmare! I know, I have those kind of people living above me. Good luck.

  4. Trish says:

    I am disgusted to see dog shit on one of the floors in my building.
    Today I saw smeared dog shit on the sidewalk right outside the front door!!
    Clean up people!!!!!!!

  5. Deb says:

    From someone who’s upstairs neighbours installed hard surface flooring I can tell you it’s a nightmare. Wood framed buildings and laminate flooring on anything but the ground floor don’t play well together. Since the new flooring went in, every step my upstairs neighbours take is amplified right through my ceiling. It’s like having elephants living upstairs! What was once the ambient sound of life in a community setting is now like living in a non-stop artillery
    barrage and now there is a difficult problem between residents of two units that is going to be difficult to solve. I’m sorry, but I have to disagree most strenuously with your advice to go ahead and install that hardwood floor without the boards permission. As “The Book of Laws” states – “Once you open a can of worms it’s a lot harder to re-can them.”

  6. Reba says:

    BBQ on balconies are NOT illegal in Toronto. See city disclosure at
    http://www.toronto.ca/311/knowledgebase/28/101000044728.html

    1. Johnny J says:

      Propane tanks are illegal to be transported in elevators. I’d like to see somebody haul a propane tank up 20 flights!

      1. Rishi says:

        Not true either. Transportation of a propane tank is permissible in an elevator provided the only person in the elevator is the one carrying the tank.

        1. Jim says:

          That’s correct, and you should use the service elevator, if there is only one elevator then contact the manager and have it placed temporarily on service for you use.

      2. Form follows function says:

        Reba’s comment on BBQ… “BBQ on balconies are NOT illegal in Toronto.” is correct.
        As for propane tanks the fire marshall requirement is that they be transported on a service elevator OR IF THERE IS NO SERVICE ELEVATOR can be transported on regular elevator but the only person allowed in the elevator is the person transporting the propane tank – no other passengers.
        The real question is whether condo bylaws or rules prohibit BBQs or do not allow storage of propane (or specific classes of combustibles} in ALL common areas which – in most condos – includes balconies/terraces.

      3. Adam says:

        Hauling a propane tank up 20 flights of stairs? This is not difficult for anyone who is even slightly above average strength/fitness. Your average gym ape should be able to manage this, no problem. Unless those guns are just for show…

  7. Ian says:

    You can buy a magnetic pad sold in hardware stores to block air vents, simply cut a shape from the rectangular piece (circle), cover speaker which can easily be removed before inspector arrives, guess who told me this trick, mum’s the word! It can only muffle so use duck tape to thicken.

  8. Mark says:

    If you’re looking for a composite, wood or grass tile for your condo balcony which are completely condo board okay. Visit designerdeck.com. We’re currently running another 10% discount on all products.

  9. Amelia says:

    Hmm, illegal bbqs on balconies and permanently disabling the fire alarm. They go together like peas and carrots. … Or not.

    Aside from the obvious risk to human life, I can see another issue.

    Who’s liable when a fire breaks out on your balcony, damages your unit, the one above, below and next to you? Who’s insurance is going to cover the damage? Yours? Don’t think so. Your insurance coverage is based on not having an illegal bbq. Hell, a lit cigarette butt could have landed on your balcony. It doesn’t even have to be a fire caused by your bbq. If you have anything on your balcony that’s prohibited and it catches fire from that cig-butt, you are liable.

    How about the condo corp’s insurance? Will it pay for your wilful ignorance? Wouldn’t count on it.

  10. Joe Q. says:

    Disabling a fire alarm system sounds like an absolutely crazy thing to do (deliberately defeating a fire safety system to avoid, what, 40 seconds’ worth of annoyance on a weekday morning, once a month?)

    1. Tony V says:

      Its more the 12am or 4am false alarms that the fire department has to come and investigate that is the nuisance. they speak for 40 seconds. every 10 minutes

  11. A Grant says:

    Our previous condo forbade bicycles in the elevators – a rule which I broke all the time. Our building provided secure bicycle storage in a cage in the parking garage. But it had not been expanded since it was first build in the mid-1990s and it was full (by the amount of dust on the bikes, it was obvious that the previous owners had abandoned them.)

    Notices were posted in the elevators and I was reprimanded a couple of times by a few busy bodies, but nothing came of it. The issue was raised at a meeting of the condo board, but I told them that until they either removed the abandoned bikes, expanded the bike cage or let me park by bicycle in the parking spot I paid for (I didn’t have a car at the time), I would continue to use the elevators. My partner and I moved to a house a few months later so I don’t have to worry about these types of silly rules anymore

  12. Amelia says:

    My dad designed a “dampening” panel that he affixes over the loud speaker in his condo. He takes it down once a year for inspection. Works like a charm. 🙂

  13. Darren says:

    The cutting of the speaker wire does happen but it won’t last long. It creates a trouble on the panel that will be investigated and found pretty quickly. No doubt with a bill for the owner of that unit to go with it.

  14. ScottyP says:

    People who throw cigarette butts off their balcony drive me crazy.

  15. myeo says:

    To sneak a propane tank into your condo I recommend the same method we used in university to sneak kegs into or dormitory: a mini-fridge box.

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