Condo lifestyle calls for social responsibility

Condominium living is all about living together as a community. Condo lifestyle calls for social responsibility, where each and every stakeholder; such as: condo residents, owners, tenants, board members, property managers, security staff, trades people, retail or commercial unit owners (if applicable) and real estate salespeople, become an important part of the condominium as a whole. One should take pride in the condominium one lives in or serves into.

Like any contemporary social setting, it is not uncommon to see residents from different age groups, demography, professional backgrounds living together in a Mississauga condominium residence. Often interaction and social contact amongst condo neighbours gives condo living a whole new meaning. Condo neighbours should discuss issues that matter the most, such as security, social networking and upkeep of your condominium, house rules and by-laws governing the condo corporation.

Let's talk about condominium security

We all know that good condo buildings in Mississauga provide an array of security features. There are many condos that offer 24-hr concierge, electronic entrance system and security cameras. Still sometimes there are incidents of break-ins or vandalism. Even an attempted break-in can end up costing homeowners thousands of dollars in collective deductibles or hike in condominium insurance rates.

Leaving the responsibility of condo security solely on the shoulder of security personnel may not help. It is important that the condo residents keep vigilant at all times and look out for any signs of suspicious activity. Don't let the bad guys get away because you don't want to report on someone's dubious behavior. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Some renters don't have the same pride of ownership and communal living. A few of them may even resort to acts of internal thefts, vandalism and assaults within the building or its common elements.

Truth of the matter is that many times residents don't make a big issue of such matters because of the fear of personal safety or that of loosing real estate value of their property.

In a situation like this what's the best you can do?

All violation related incidents should be reported to the local police. The condo management should notify all the condo residents when there has been a violation. An informed resident is a safeguard against internal/ external violators from striking again.

An emergency meeting with the condominium residents to discuss building violations and condo security would be good idea. Meetings may divulge information about break-ins/ vandalism that have been reported or residents may come up with suggestions to help prevent such occurrences from happening again. Condo resident should ensure that property management does not delay repairs. All the damages should be made good in a timely manner.

There are some Mississauga buildings where there are many security cameras on every floor, elevator and common areas. These building have seldom reported incidents of internal thefts and vandalism. Reputed buildings retain their real estate value over time.

Some condo by-laws,house rules & Rental guidelines

The Condominium Act permits a corporation to have an occupancy standard by-law setting out occupancy limits in condominium units. There are some condominium buildings in which there are rules; within municipal occupancy standards and or in compliance with the building code, that limits a greater number of occupants per unit (e.g. two- bedrooms with a maximum occupancy of four). This keeps check on number of people that live in a condo building.

Short-term rentals (e.g. six months or less) can be disruptive to some residents. And you never really get to know or trust your short term renter neighbour, some of them will be changing as often as weekly. Residential condominium declarations permit units to be used only for single family occupancy, thus prohibiting the occupancy of a unit by unrelated persons as the result of individual room rentals.

Many condominium lawyers recommend that every corporation should review their by-laws and introduce changes to improve their existing documentation.

Tenant screening is also an important aspect of who will live in your property. Ontario Human Rights Code allows equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability. 

When choosing a new tenant, a landlord may refuse tenancy to the person based on unsatisfactory rental history, employment history, personal references and income information (receipt of social assistance is a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Code). Judicious landlords instruct their REALTORS® to screen tenants based on the above criteria in a non-discriminatory manner.

In my opinion, the building residents who are professionals like accountants, lawyers, engineers etc. should come forward, get elected to sit on the condo boards. This can result in better accountability and management. Assuming that your condominium owners' association is operating as it should, the condominium will be well maintained and its value should remain high over time. Together we can help build a better condo lifestyle.