Welcome to my Agony Column in which I will answer questions posed by my clients, friends and well-wishers. I find it difficult to write these posts and thought if I might relate the information in a humorous way, this would make it easier for me to write and for the reader to remember. The advise will be based on fact and apply to condo and home owners living in Ontario.
This letter from Gina (not her real name) to Van (not my real name):
Dear Van: I am so fed up! A few years ago I bought this re-sale condo from you with the following upgrades: granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors and a cast iron chandelier which was acquired from Savannah. A real gem you said at the time.
Recently, the stupid chandelier which was suspended above the dining room and kitchen area, came crashing down and destroyed the granite counter-top and left an ugly wedge on the hardwood floor leading to the living area. I contacted management because I was under the impression that the insurance portion of my maintenance fee would cover the repairs! Guess what? I am not covered by my insurance either as I had not declared the upgrades on my policy.
Am I being taken to the proverbial cleaners here? What the heck do I pay maintenance fees for?
Gina - A riot in my kitchen.
PS: Thanks for EVENTUALLY getting back to me! I know you will but you take so long to respond to anything.
Dear Gina: How are you? I am away as I reply to this email. I always go into hiding around tax time. Anyway, What kind of chandelier is this, that it destroys so much of your living space? Was someone swinging from it?
Ha! Ha! Only kidding. I remember you were quite a party girl in your time. Normally, renovations, or upgrades carried out by an owner, or ex-owner, as well as personal property, are not included in the condominium's insurance.
Condominiums normally insure against damage to the common elements and to the ‘standard unit'. This standard unit definition was enacted in the Condo Act of 1998, and in older condos it is important that buyers and owners read the by-laws and rules of what is insured and not insured by the condo corporation.
I am surprised that your personal insurance will not cover this accident, you should check with them again - also, remember to get approval from your Board for any upgrades you intend carrying out . They can tear everything down if you have not jumped through the proper hoops.
I heard the other day, a condo owner had spent the weekend putting tiles down on his balcony without permission. An embittered battle ensued when the owner refused to remove the tiles - imagine, the condo management had the right to enter said condo while while the owner was at work and removed the tiles without much ado.
Your Agent for Life, Van - not my real name.