Condo nightmare: The inside scoop on this week’s cover story

Tamsin McMahon explains why condo dwellers are finding themselves boxed in


Owning a home is at the heart of the Canadian dream. Nearly 70 per cent of us are now homeowners, a trend that shows no sign of abating despite our record-high house prices. But when you look at the kinds of homes we’re building in our cities, it’s pretty clear that what it means to be a homeowner is undergoing a profound change. More than 1.6 million Canadians now live in condominiums, a dramatic rise that has happened primarily in just the past decade. Toronto’s recent condo explosion gets all the attention. But we’re also building condos in Whitehorse and Calgary and Moncton.

Condos are not just a smaller kind of house — they’re an entirely different way of life. They sit at the nexus of private property and collective ownership. They’re a home, an investment and a corporation. Some compare condo boards to another level of government — one that’s run by your neighbours. It’s an apt comparison given that boards have an unprecedented amount of control over how you live, from raising monthly maintenance fees to pay for repairs, to prohibiting you from owning a dog.

For every story of condo harmony, there seem to be two tales of condo nightmares. This week’s cover story looks at the living hell of condo living. Watch for it on newsstands Thursday, in our digital edition later today, and online next week:

April 28, 2014 cover


Condo nightmare: The inside scoop on this week’s cover story

  1. As a former treasurer with Condo Corp all I can say is the three P’s…..people, pets and parking.Source of 95% of condo probs.

    • Or if many units are rented, renter issues. Was a chairman for 5 years, one of the first questions I would ask is what is the percentage of “renter” and offside owners.

  2. We were going to downsize to a condo, now retired empty nesters, large home. 4 beds, 4 baths, den, family, living, dining room on a near triple sized lot….

    Because all we could find is chicken coupe (< 1000 sqft) housing with cheap appointments and pigeon hole lifestyle. And if you found something in the 2 bed+den 1400-1500 sqft range 20% of the space is in stair cases and not well laid out priced not much lower than our home. Or priced for the silly at 680k++.

    Have even lived in a condo before, was a chairman for 5 years. But this market is clearly off kilter. People are spending twice as much per sqft for a condo a third or less in size. Just because they can't come up with the extra to buy a real home.

    Makes no sense. We are better off where we are. Pretty obvious for us, living in our own home is better economically, quality of life and future value. No reason to move other than we were going to be snowbirds. So we will just fly often….or if I can talk my wife into it, move to Arizona, Costa Rica, Peru, Panama, or Caribbean.

    There is something out of whack with the condo business.

  3. This is a problem that will solve itself. An entire generation of condo dwellers (and condo “investors”, or should I say speculators?) will be left holding the bag, crying for a government bailout at some point. I sincerely hope they don’t get it, but I know better. Government will find a way to subsidize underwater homeowners just like they did – and are still doing – in the US.

  4. Tamison:
    Living Hell is correct but for none of the reasons you mentioned in your article.

    Developers controlling the Board, Conflict of Interest, Condo Law that favours the developer, etc.

    Spend a little bit of time with owners in our condo and we will be happy to provide you with a new perspective.

    I’ll even buy lunch.