LET’S PARTY!! (If We’re Allowed To)

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the increasing number of “no open house” condos in the downtown core.

Today, we look at the number of condos that make the use of the party room, impossible…

Do you remember the story I told about the teenage party that took place in my condo party room?

Long story short: a teenage girl, whose parents were away, decided to have a dozen friends over to the condo and drink booze, smoke weed, and get wild in the party room.  It was loud, disastrous, and somebody projectile vomited against the glass mirror in the elevator.

It was a disaster.

And it was sooooooo easy for this to happen!

(If you want the whole story, click HERE).

Some condos in downtown Toronto have almost zero restrictions on the party room, and it sets up all the residents for disaster.

Some condos have the most ridiculous, authoritative, constrictive rules imaginable, and it means that the residents almost never use the party room.

Surely, there must be a middle ground, no?

When we talked about the restrictions on open houses in downtown Toronto condos, we identified that there are essentially three methods that condos use:

1) Anything Goes.  It’s a giant free-for-all, and agents put signs outside, notices with buzzer codes on the wall in the foyer, and let people come up to the unit by their own accord.

2) “By Appointment.”  The agent can wait downstairs and personally escort any interested party up to the unit, which is somewhat like an appointment.

3)No Open Houses.  Of any sort, whatsoever.

When it comes to the party room in your condo, I feel as though there are very similar restrictions.

The party room and the public open house both come with positives and negatives, and they’re eerily similar.

Both can offer benefits to the residents of the condo, and both can come with security risks.

And just as I’ve seen with open houses, I see a good number of hard restrictions coming down on party rooms.

Let’s be honest: people let loose in party rooms!  They drink, eat, they’re merry, and they probably don’t realize how loud they become as they get drunk, how messy they can be (when they’re drunk…), and how easy it is to disregard and disrespect the other residents of the condominium.

So it’s up to a competent, diligent condominium board (and property management) to be proactive, and sometimes responsive, and put forth a set of rules that help to protect the condo residents, and ensure their quiet enjoyment.  This usually involves the security guard, and how many people you can have present before you are forced to hire him.

The grass is always greener on the other side.

When you’re hosting a party, you wish the rules weren’t so restrictive.

When you’re being annoyed and kept up late by the loud, rambunctious folks in the party room, you wish the rules were tighter.

The way I see it, there’s three methods of allowing parties in the party room, just like with condo open houses:

1) Anything Goes.  This is quite rare, but there are the “come as you please” condo party rooms where there are no restrictions, and no security guard.  You can have one person, or a hundred, and you don’t need to hire a security guard.  You might have to pay a deposit, and you might not.  You might have to clean the room yourself, and you might pay for it.  But either way, you don’t have to hire a security guard.

2) Security Guard After XX Number of Persons.  This is probably the most common way of doing things, and in my opinion, it makes the most sense.  Every condo under this method has a different, set number of persons that are allowed in the party room before a security guard is required.  I was at a party last weekend where the number was thirty, and the resident had about twenty people, so it meant he didn’t have to hire and pay for a security guard.

3) Security Guard For ALL Usage.  This isn’t that common, but the method is picking up steam.  More and more condos are requiring a security guard to be hired if ANY person(s) want to use the party room.

So which method do you think makes the most sense?

Each has its pros and cons, but I feel that when there are two extremes, its best to find the middle ground.

With the anything goes method, you’re open to massive problems.

I had a party in my condo party room over Christmas where I had 70-80 people, and we weren’t required to hire a security guard.  To be honest, I don’t know if it was required, or if the front desk messed up, but in any event, it’s very possible to have a party in a downtown Toronto party room these days without having to hire a security guard.

My party was tame.  It was a family, friends, and a bunch of boring real estate agents.

But there have been scores of parties in the building where no security guard is present, and where residents feel no need whatsoever to act like mature adults.

Let’s face it: the security guard isn’t really going to do anything.  He’s not going to risk his life for $20 an hour to break up a knife fight, and he’s probably not even going to say, “Hey, can you guys keep it down?”  But his mere presence will make people feel like they can’t let free.  That’s the value; in his presence.  It’s like a sign, in human-form, that says, “Don’t act like a child, and respect that other people live here too.”

So why not have a security guard at some level?

That brings us to the second method, whereby there is a minimum persons required to have a security guard, which I think is the right method.

You don’t need a security guard for five people, and you can’t have a party with one-hundred people without one.

Every condo seems to have a different number.

For some buildings, it’s twenty, and for other buildings, it’s forty.  But that’s for the board of directors to decide, so long as this method is in place.

Even though I had a party with 70-80 people, and even though I knew with absolute certainty that nothing would get “out of hand,” I still believe that any party of that size should have a security guard in attendance.  The rule has to be across the board, because for every party with 60 senior citizens who are playing bridge, there’s going to be 3-4 parties with eighty morons who think Jersey Shore and Buckwild are “The Guidebook of Life.”

But take things to the other extreme, and that’s where we get the security guard for ALL usage.

This, in my mind, makes absolutely no sense.

Or if you’re a conservative, risk-averse, party-pooper, you feel that if ONE person wants to use the party room, they need to hire a security guard.

If a fifty-five year old mother wants to watch the big-screen TV with her four-year-old daughter, they have to hire a security guard at $23/hour and sign paperwork.

Sorry folks, but that makes no sense to me.

I think that the idea of 90 people in a party room with no security guard makes equally as little sense as two people in a room with a security guard.  And in many condos, they won’t let you into the party room without filling out a whack of paperwork, hiring a security guard, and…..wait for it…..a certified cheque.

That’s the last log I’ll throw onto the fire here.

If a party room can’t be used by ONE person, without hiring a security guard at $23/hour, and costs $125 for the night to rent, how often do you think it’ll be used if the “renter” has to provide a CERTIFIED cheque for $500 to act as a security deposit?

Am I naive?

Should a personal cheque suffice?

If a condo resident wants to throw a party with 120 people, then yes – he or she should pay the $125 fee, be required to hire a security guard for $23/hour, and hand over a $500 security deposit (which may or may not be certified).

But if a lady wants to have her three children and their four cousins watch the big-screen TV in the party room on a Sunday afternoon, why the hell should she be required to hand over a certified cheque for $500?  And working backwards – should she have a security guard present?

I know a lot of people will disagree with me here, and that’s fine.

I was voted-down on a condo board once when the President suggested that in ANY case, whatsoever, the party room user should have to hire a security guard and provide a certified deposit cheque.  I just didn’t understand it.  Why make it so impossible to use the room?  Not everybody wants to have a “party” in the room.  Some folks just want to use it for an hour.  So now, not only are we telling them what they have to do in order to use the room, but we’re telling them how to use it.  By making it impossible to use the room, we’re insisting that only the hard-core partiers use the room, since only they will go to such extremes to use it.

More and more condos are making the rules so restrictive that the room gets little to no use.

My critics will say, “It cost $6 to get a certified cheque or bank draft, and it takes ten minutes at the bank.  What’s the problem?”  I guess I just think it’s exceptionally restrictive, and I think a personal cheque should be sufficient.

Oh, and I may have mentioned this three times already, but I don’t think a security guard is necessary for ten people.

But every condo is free to make their own rules, and if recent history is any indication – they know this!  And they’re drafting their rules accordingly…


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  1. Shanaz Lawrence says:

    Looking for a condo party room to host a small wedding celebration end of September 2017. Must have a kitchen, chairs and tables.

  2. Tiffany says:

    Looking for a condo party room to rent, willing to pay extra for exchange of the room, 65 Birthday party

  3. Pearls says:

    does anyone on here, want to rent out their condo party room for me

  4. Tiffany says:

    looking to rent our condo party room as well!!

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  6. Floom says:

    The midnight cut-off seems unfair but its only because large groups make noise -and if the party room is not completely away from residents’ homes, they’ll hear it. My building has the party room on the PH level. Sucks to be the people who purchased there NOT realizing that dozens of people waiting in the hall for the elevator at midnight will make a lot of noise.

    Our condo has a wonderful roof top terrace, which I use almost every evening in the summer…but for some reason, the board decided to step-up security big-time -increased visible presence, policing if anyone has glass (a no-no). I wasn’t aware that there was a big problem before hand so it makes me wonder if the changes are as a result of a bored board reading through the 1 or 2 suggestions by crazed residents.

    Heard that a popular condo with a roof-top pool employs a creative solution to prevent large groups from taking over: they issue 4 bracelets per unit. No bracelet – no entrance to the pool. If you want to have 8 over, better make friends with your neighbor. Sucks to have to do that but its understandeable if one resident has 20 people over to lounge by the pool every Saturday.

    1. Krupo says:

      Reminds me of my friend’s place where only 4 guests are allowed per unit (didn’t get around to bracelets mind you) on the outdoor BBQ deck. There were 20+ people present, but fortunately friend had 5 or 6 residents attending the party, multiplying the “cap” by 5 or 6.

      Naturally the BBQ deck was right below an upset condo owner’s unit, so the security/concierge guy had to come up and do a very annoying head-count that was quite a buzz kill for a moderate middle-of-a-sunny-afternoon party.

      Similar to Oren, that kept me WAY away from the “buy and live in a condo” party train…

  7. ABB says:

    It’s usually tenants who cause party problems. So in my building, deposits and security are required on a case-by-case basis. A long term owner-occupied suite with clean record (no suite noise infractions of any other problems at all) can hold a big party for 100 people and have no requirement for security. A tenant suite (no matter how long in the building) will always require deposit and security, sometime 2 guards. In the past 5 years in my 330 unit building, tenants are the sole cause of any problems.

  8. Paully says:

    I was on the board at my condo for a while. It drove me absolutely crazy. The only thing that the other board members seemed to care about, was “is there any liability there? Could we get sued?” All decisions were based on minimizing liability, not improving everything around the condo. Paranoid.

    1. Nick says:

      Yeah liability can be daunting for most. Considering most people on a condo board do not have law degrees and generally speaking, are not necessarily the most qualified people to make business decisions, it doesn’t surprise me that most condo boards take the easy/safe road. It still shouldn’t excuse ambivalence towards increasing the reserve fund / lowering building operating costs, and improving access to under-utilized ammenities like a party room or guest suite.

      I believe most condo corps have a lawyer on retainer so why not use them? Seems to me that it’s only a matter of will on the part of the condo corp.

      I just look at as
      -a lost revenue stream. Wasted money that could be used for a variety of building improvements/maintenance and can help keep monthly maintenance fees in check.
      -a lost opportunity to improve the lives of building residents by offering a safe, convenient alternative for socializing. Isn’t having parties and being social a good thing??

  9. Nick says:

    I rented out my party room in my downtown condo and while the party was a success, I couldn’t understand how they make money. Inititally I had to change the date and when I asked what was available, it was open season which means that this room is sitting empty for what I can guess, about 95% of the year! It’s a nice, spacious room with a bar, TV, lounge chairs, and a terrace that is accessible for people who smoke and thought it had a lot of appeal for a private party.

    What it cost me:
    $150 to use all day if I wanted but I only used it from 6pm to midnight
    + $100 for four hours of security (required for over 30 guests)
    + $500 deposit (paid by certified cheque, refunded after inspection)
    = $250 total

    I didn’t mind the $150 fee since it’s a nice space nor the security guard just in case there was a problem but what puzzled me more is why isn’t the condo corp renting this out more often?

    They tried to charge me $50 for using chairs and tables which I told them I wouldn’t pay on principal since sitting should be free! I didn’t like being nickeled and dimed so they only charged me the original $150, which was fair and an act of good faith.

    I think it’s good to charge a fee per use and a $500 deposit shouldn’t be hard to scrounge up and a security guard is a good idea as a sort of insurance to deter bad behaviour (and to sign off that nothing was damaged), but only for 30-40 people or more. Regardless of deposits and security guards, if something is damaged the person renting is still liable so I don’t really understand why they go through these lengths. Why not just accept a $50 non-refundable deposit as part of the fee to make sure the person renting is serious (and discourage people from tentatively booking) or take a credit card imprint just before pre-inspection like they do when you check into a hotel? In addition to signing the contract, take a copy of their driver’s license.

    If both friday and saturday nights were rented out every weekend, that’s almost $15000 a year! Wear and tear would be negligible and if anything was damaged it would the responsibility of the person renting the space. All of the overhead costs are absorbed and there is no liability insurance required so it’s easy money for the condo corp.

    There must be a reason but I haven’t figured it out. Maybe someone knows.

    1. Nargis says:

      I’m looking to rent out a condo for my birthday on the first week of June, would I be able to rent yours?

      1. Nargis says:

        I’m looking to rent out a condo party room for my birthday on the first week of June, would I be able to rent yours?

  10. IanC says:

    What about the curfew? A dinner party can end at 10PM or 11PM… but if it is a Saturday night you DON’T want to cook dinner for 50 people…

    You invite people to show up AFTER dinner…. have some music, maybe some dancing, some snacks and food… and some drinks… It’s called a “PARTY”…

    But several my friends who have party rooms in central downtown say that they need to shut down by MIDNIGHT. How does that work if you are hosting a New Year’s Eve Party? Or even a regular weekend party? Why do all the work and cleaning up if you are just going to have to go out anyway and cab and line up to go out afterwards to enjoy a weekend night partying ?

    And don’t get me started start on certified cheques. We need one to reserve / put a deposit on the guest suite! So you need to plan to book the guest suite a business day or two in ADVANCE. They wonder why the guest suite is under utilized !

    And our Brookfield – managed condo requires a certified cheque – not only for move ins and move outs, but also to book the service elevator to make a small delivery (like a recliner chair or dishwasher). Again – you need a business day or two in advance to book it with the management office (not security) during their 40-hour work week (Monday to Friday -8 hours per day). No spontaneous shopping for large items when you live in my condo…

    I would rather have the security guards put pads in the elevator upon request (excluding rush hour of course) for a 1-way delivery FREE than charge a certified cheque deposit that encourages people to sneak large items up with NO PADS and damage the darn elevator.

    1. Oren says:

      You guys are listing all the reasons why I never wanted to live in a Condo.

      1. George says:

        Yeah, but then I walk out of my office and five minutes later I’m home…so there’s that. Everything is a compromise.

        I never liked certified cheque security deposits. I mean, why can’t they just bill us afterwards if there is a problem? They already bill us for the maintenance fees, and they know where we live.

        1. former board pres says:

          Common fees can be liened and recovered with little administrative cost/hassle while damages must be litigated if the owner won’t pay.

          1. IanC says:

            I figure those who damage know this and won’t pay knowing that they have to be taken to court.

            However, by forcing a certified cheque (in advance, during office hours only) – it encourages people to move large objects without pads in the elevator.

            As a trial, boards should try to offer deliveries without a certified cheque deposit. Or at least eat the fees from using a credit card deposit system that a security guard could manage. Even if it did not reduce the damages paid by the condo ( I think it would ) – it would be a major convenience !

            Certified cheques are such a major PITA.