Marina Del Rey Condominium $15 Lawsuits, Toronto


The Toronto Waterfront area can be a beautiful place to live. I thought all my dreams had come true when I moved in to my condominium 23 years ago. It has the most spectacular view of this city! However, I soon discovered that purchasing this property would become my biggest nightmare! I have now been homeless for 13 years!

This is a cautionary tale about what happens to a condo owner at Marina Del Rey Phase I, 2261 Lake Shore Blvd. W, who is forced to commence legal action in an effort to rebuild her home after years of continuous water flooding problems, mismanagement, neglect of duties, and bad faith displayed by insurance companies.

I have started this blog with the hope that I can provide help and encouragement to others who find themselves in a similar situation. Insurance companies and corporations have lots of money and lawyers to fight us. However, we have the power of the internet and the social media to connect, support each other, and exchange helpful information.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Are today's Toronto Condo Towers tomorrow's Slums?


What does a 75-storey flophouse look like? According to some, we won’t have to wait long to find out.  Read what architecture critic Christopher Hume thinks, Toronto Star: 

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2012/03/20/hume_are_toronto_condo_towers_slums_in_the_making.html


This Rexdale Condo is in Big Trouble!:  http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2011/05/26/ill_never_buy_a_condo_again_apathy_leads_to_condo_in_crisis.html


"York Condominium Corporation 506, located near Finch and Kipling Aves., is in crisis. The 202-unit condo building needs millions of dollars in urgent repairs — but at the same time, it has an operating deficit of $670,000, a depleted reserve fund and a community that can’t agree on a fix."


These condos in Scarborough are an Out of Control Disaster!:
http://concernedresidents40914101.webs.com/

Excerpt from their website: 
"This website has been created by the residents for the residents of these two buildings.  For decades, these residents have suffered various forms of injustice, crime, and unanswered pleas from the management and from civil servants.  Conditions have deteriorated and have now reached an apex that we will not be tolerated any longer in our community.  Enough is enough.  There are far too many problems in this community and we DEMAND action right away.  We will not take these assaults any longer.  We, the residents, need to mobilize, stand together, and expose what is going on around here.  We can only make a difference if we stand together.  Our goal is to capture peoples' attention:  the media, lawyers, MPs, the mayor, MPPs, government offices, and of course average Torontonians,  The more people that become aware and involved in our cause, the better for us.  Rest assured, we will not stop until changes are made.  Let's make this community livable again!

Three $20 Million Toronto Condo Lawsuits, Lessons from BC leaking Condos, & Marchese's Bill 72

To learn more about the Problems with Toronto's Condos and lawsuits Please see this Link for news reports from Toronto Life, CBC, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail:

http://www.torontolife.com/tag/cityplace/

Excerpts:   http://www.torontolife.com/informer/features/2012/07/24/faulty-towers/

In 1986, there were only 146 condos in Toronto.  Today, within the boundaries of the old city alone, there are 520 completed condos that average 159 units each.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/interactives/before-after/toronto-condos/ba.html

"Every condo building in Toronto has a secret. The only thing that separates crappy balconies from crappy soundproofing, plumbing, drainage, elevators, heating, air conditioning and mechanical equipment is that anybody can see the balconies falling apart. The rest is hidden from public view, as are the boardroom confrontations and the quietly launched civil lawsuits that follow, when condo owners with no other recourse take their developers to court. In March, a group of unit owners at the Festival and Murano towers filed class action lawsuits against their respective developers and architects, and the balcony installer at both locations, Toro Aluminum Railings. Even though the developers are replacing the glass at their own expense, the lawsuits claim that residents have been denied access to a significant portion of their living space for too long, through no fault of their own. They believe someone is negligent, and someone should pay. Each suit claims a total of $20 million in damages."

Class Action Lawsuit $20 million:  Festival Tower http://www.torontolife.com/galleries/faulty-towers/#jul12faultytowers1

Class Action Lawsuit $20 million:  Optima http://www.torontolife.com/galleries/faulty-towers/#jul12faultytowers2

Class Action Lawsuit $20 million:  Murano  http://www.torontolife.com/galleries/faulty-towers/#jul12faultytowers3

"Such lawsuits are increasingly common, with damage claims for shoddy construction running from the tens of thousands to the tens of millions, naming developers, architects, concrete-waterproofing subcontractors and everyone in between. As the repair bills and legal fees mount, the courts try to figure out who will pay for the fixes. Meanwhile, with hundreds of cranes poking out of the city skyline and developers scrambling to build still more towers, we’re presented with the real possibility that many more of these condo boom buildings will bust."

"Finding a way to detect problems early could help head off a situation similar to the condo crisis in Vancouver and Victoria, which suffered an epidemic of leaky buildings constructed in the late 1980s and 1990s—some 65,000 units in all. British Columbia created a commission of inquiry headed by former premier Dave Barrett, and its report, issued in 1998, was scathing. It blamed municipalities for failing to monitor building quality, the province for allowing loose interpretations of the building code, architects and engineers for failing to ensure their designs were properly translated, contractors for passing the buck, unskilled labour for poor workmanship and developers for failing to disclose all information to newly formed condo boards."

"Earlier this year, Rosario Marchese introduced a private member’s Bill 72at Queen’s Park to amend the Condominium Act, the legislation that lays the groundwork for buying, selling and living in condominium dwellings (including everything from who is allowed to vote at condo corporation meetings to how a condo decides whether to ban pets) and which hasn’t been updated since 1998. Marchese’s bill would also update the Ontario building code’s soundproofing standards. It will be the fourth time he has tried to amend the act; each previous attempt has been stymied by the Liberal government.
Marchese’s bill would create a condo review board not unlike the current landlord and tenant board, to act as a dispute resolution body for conflicts between condo boards, owners, property managers and developers."

Toronto condo building lawsuits are complex with multiple parties pointing a finger at each other.  Could a Condo Review Board be able to sort out complex legal issues?

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Would You Just Walk Away?

Dear Marina Del Rey Condo Owners:

Some have suggested that a fair offer would be to pay me the value of my condo and I should then just walk away.

Walking away from my condo which I have owned for 23 years with a payment for its value is not good enough.  My condo is worthless.  Wrecked,  full of mould, water penetrates around window when it rains. Who would want to buy it?  Payment for the cost of my condo will pay off my mortgage and partially pay for my legal fees.  No Deal.

Do you realise that both the lawsuits were triggered by the fact that Marina Del Rey was in between condo managers and there was no one to take charge and deal with the flooding situations in my home.  After writing countless letters, emails, and filling out maintenance requests to no avail, I was forced to commence legal action to repair my home.  I also slipped on my flooded condo floor caused by defective windows (identified in 1997 and confirmed in 2003) after a rainstorm and broke my arm, injured both shoulders, and collar bone.  I am a landscaper who specialises in fish ponds.  I was unable to work.  When I fell behind in maintenance fee payments, I was threatened with liens. 

I was given the following excuses:  It's in the lawyer's hands, we are going to discuss it at the next meeting, our hands are tied - it's up to the Board.  I was also told, it happened before I started working (or was elected) and I don't know anything about it, sorry.  Another time I was told our hands are tied, but if you drop the lawsuit, maybe we can help you.  The file of evidence proving mismanagement, negligence, and failure to act is so big, no one has the time or wants to sit down and read it.

Did you know that for 75 days in 2001 I had no water supply to my unit?  To flush my toilet or wash, I had to go to the parking garage to get a bucket of water.  Did you know that for 21 months my walls and ceilings were left open after the condo plumbers flooded my unit?  I suffered from 2nd hand smoke, mould, insects came into my unit through the walls. I could hear all the neighbours sounds around me including going to the bathroom, dropping a penny or quarter, spoon or knife on the floor, drawers opening and closing, people talking, music, tv, piano.  I was kept awake by the sound of rushing water through the pipes, my pipes rattle and clang when the water is shut off above me. I still wake up at night to the sound of water travelling through the pipes and I am jolted awake fearing the next flood.  Did you know that because the walls and ceilings were left open, during a rainstorm a kind of wind tunnel / vacuum effect sucked in even more water and flooded my living room.  The smell of the wet floor, drywall and mould was horrendous - read visitors comments in 2011.  I believe my windows and frames would never have been replaced by the condo corporation or the holes closed in my drywall had it not been for the City of Toronto building standards department stepping in to help me.

What do I want?

1) I want to make sure this never happens to another person at Marina Del Rey or any other condo for that matter.

2) I want the condo corporation to take flooding and mould issues seriously.  They should be replacing failing pipes and defective windows, not spending our reserve fund on redecorating. 

3) I want owners at Marina Del Rey to understand these lawsuits are a serious matter and can cost the corporation more than just the deductible.  Compensatory and Punitive Damages are not covered by the condo corporation's insurance policy as noted in the financial statements presented at the last general meeting. 
Did you know that the condo corporation is about to be served yet another lawsuit from a resident who was hurt in the parking garage?  Too many lawsuits can cause the condo corporation to lose its insurance.  Lawsuits also bring attention to the fact that there are problems here - which is not good for our building's reputation or property values.

4) I need the mould that is growing in my walls to be remediated.  There is water damage around my windows = mould continues to be active.  The Doctor and the people at the hospital told me to continue to wear a face mask while in my condo.  My neighbour is worried about the mould in our common walls too.  It is affecting my ability to breath and I just went for a 4th lung function test.  It was confirmed that the air quality in my condo is affecting my breathing.

5) I need my ventilation system repaired.  The motor broke and the corporation refuses to replace it even though the Declaration, P. 17 and 18 says its the corporation's responsibility.  The exhaust fan motor is listed as part of the standard unit in By-Law 6

6) I want the condo corporation's insurer to pay to rebuild my home.  I have no kitchen or finished bathroom.  I need it gutted and rebuilt.

7) I want the condo corporation's insurer to provide me personal insurance coverage for the next 5 years or for 5 years after my next flood.  That is how long it takes to clear your record.  You must be incident free for 5 years.

8) I want reimbursement for all my costs.  Legal fees. Maintenance fees & mortgage payments I had to make on a condo that was classified as "unusable space" by MPAC and I received a property tax refund.  Money I spent to rebuild my home only to have it destroyed by another flood.

9) I want to be compensated for my loss of income due to health problems, psychological trauma, broken arm and injured shoulders.  The damage to my business must be recognised.  I would have made a lot more money operating my business with out all the stress and distraction of continuous destruction of my home.  At one point in my business I had up to 10 employees / subcontractors working for me constructing water feature projects for:  zoo, casino, hotels, restaurants, condominiums, retail stores, and high end residential projects.  The work I did was featured in magazines, newspapers, TV shows.  I lost all of that and now am just self employed.  For many years I slept on my office floor because my condo was wrecked and then gutted.

10) I want a public apology.  The way I have been treated by some people at Marina Del Rey is inhumane.  I have been a resident at Marina Del Rey for 23 years.  My problems were ignored for 13 years.  I did not deserve to be bullied, ridiculed, called a liar, nut job, wacko, etc.

My problems were legitimate, deserved attention, and required immediate action.
No one should ever have to go through everything I have been through. I have been homeless for 13 years.

If this happened to you, would you just walk away?
  
Sincerely,
Christina

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Unbelievable, Directors want to Spend Reserve Fund on Redecorating!

Marina Del Rey condo owners, you could lose your insurance coverage too!  I urge you to come forward and speak up, write a letter or send an email to the Board of Directors.  It is not too late, we can still make a difference, let's stick together.  This blog is not just about informing, it is also about making change. 

I really fear getting flooded again, I still have a mould problem in my walls (my neighbour is concerned too), my ventilation system is not working resulting in poor air quality and impaired lung function.  I have experienced 8 plumbing related floods since June 2000 and continuously leaking windows.  Although my windows and frames were replace under Order by the City of Toronto in 2012,  I still see signs of water damage on the drywall and window sill because building envelope problems have not been solved.  There are other leaking windows around me and water penetrates the walls and floods the units below. 

I have repeatedly attempted to rebuild my condo only to have it destroyed again.  My insurance company would no longer provide me coverage due to "high risk" of another flood.  When I tried to get insurance elsewhere, one of the first things they asked was have I had any claims, flooding or fire incidents over the past 5 years?  Yes, continuously. My unit remains destroyed with no kitchen or finished bathroom.  Which means, no insurance company would want to offer me coverage.  Some brokers I called were well aware of condo problems and when they looked up my name and address from some data base, they said they could not provide me coverage..

A special meeting was held on April 8, 2013 to discuss the Lawsuits against the building, Redecorating Plans, and Leaking Pipes.  I thought finally I was going to be vindicated!  Maybe even get an apology...

Instead, I found out that the condo corporation doesn't have to worry about the huge legal fees that will result when this matter goes to trial, its all covered by insurance! 

Mismanagement, neglect of duties, failure to act... its all covered by insurance.  No one is held accountable.  Board Members are volunteers.   When I ask questions, I am told it is in the lawyers' hands or we will discuss it at the next Board meeting.  I never get answers.  Management does have training and knows what is right from wrong.  However, I have often been told that their hands are tied, they can only do what the Board tells them to do.
So instead of fixing the defective windows which leak when it rains, or replacing all the remaining old risers and plumbing pipes, the Board of Directors announced plans to go ahead, spend almost our entire reserve fund on redecorating the common areas of our building!  Where are their priorities?  I know some of the Directors have had floods in their units and another has experienced problems with leaking windows.  

I am not the only person who is concerned about plans to redecorate. At the last annual general meeting, a former Director was concerned about the budget and why redecorating was being done at this time when there are other building issues that need our attention.  An owner on a lower floor was concerned about floods and when will all the risers be completely replaced.  The President replied, not until 2018, that is when it is scheduled according to the reserve plan study.  The former President then pointed out that over $60,000 a year was being spent on drywall and paint repairs as a consequence of flooding.  What does this translate into personal insurance claims?  When they replace the risers in 2018, aren't they going to make a complete mess of the common areas, rip open the ceilings and drywall such as in the photo above taken during the 2009 plumbing project.  Is the Board ordering extra wall paper to replace the stuff that is going to be ripped down in 2018?  Shouldn't we be doing this messy construction work first, stopping the floods, then redecorating?

Some people suggest, why don't you just move out?  Others say fight for what you think is right, we support you, we agree with you.  Why should I move out?  This has been my home since 1991.  Why doesn't the corporation fix the leaking problems.  Why doesn't the condo's insurer help me to rebuild my home?  I have an amazing view and I would love to continue living here if possible.

So Members of the Board, do we really need our lobby redecorated?  I think it looks great as is, warm, bright, inviting.


Why are you trying to transform the look of our building into something like this?  And is it really necessary? 

My condo unit door is fine, and looks nice.  Why are you changing all the doors to dark brown?

What is with the grey and white modern colour scheme.  It suits one of those modern glass condo towers downtown, not our building.  If you really want to live in a building like this, why not move downtown or to one of the new glass tower condos being built along the Lake.

But then I hear they have their share of water penetration and plumbing problems too!  Check out this website:  City Place: What went wrong?


Lots more stories of condo nightmares at City Place, Grand Harbour, and other Toronto Condo buildings.

Board of Directors, shouldn't we be replacing the all the remaining hot and cold risers, and shut off valves in our building?  A unit two doors away from me had a flood in October as a consequence of a failed shut off valve and then another flood in December 2012. A unit  above me had a flood in the laundry area due to another pin hole leak = failed water pipe.    Do you want more residents to go through this experience? 
Residents should not have to put up with mould in our walls, flooring, or leaking windows!

Having your condo unit hit by a flood from a failed pipe or water valve is devastating.  Your life is turned upside down dealing with insurance companies, finding a place to live for your family and pet while they rebuild your home.  The time spent picking out new decor, furniture, clothes, and personal belongings may seem like fun to some - but trust me, when it happens all at once and you are not prepared for it, it is devastating.  It is a distraction from work, social relationships, and family.  It is stressful and can be depressing.

Going through the court process of fighting an insurance company is no fun and games either.  They will drag things out, try to make it look like it is all your own fault, try to wear you down.  But don't give up!  We need to fight back.  Set a new precedent. Eventually I hope they learn a lesson and this never happens to anyone else ever again!  This has been such a terrible nightmare and I just want it all to end and to get my home and my life back.