Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Condominium Ownership ~ WHAT you need to know!

Are ALL real estate agents like this?

Real Estate Industry
Consumer education is not a hallmark of Canada’s real estate industry. Purchasers are commonly warned that insisting on a home inspection may jeopardize their offer, and there is little, if any, formal training in building technology required to become a real estate agent. Explaining the potential pitfalls of a glass condo tower building may be in the best interest of the buyer, but not the agent. How much should real estate agents know about buildings, and how much of this should they divulge to prospective buyers? One way to approach an answer to this question is to compare what real estate agents charge for their services compared to the architects who design the buildings. Typically, real estate agents receive a 5% commission on their sales, whereas architects receive on average approximately 8% of the value of the building as their total fee, which is shared with their engineering consultants. Architects are obliged to know everything about the buildings they design and are professionally liable for errors and omissions. They must also provide expert opinions to their clients for all aspects of the buildings they design.

Why should real estate agents not be required to possess a competent knowledge about the buildings they are selling?

Buyer beware would not be considered an ethical position for architects and engineers serving the public. Compared to all of the work involved in designing and specifying the various components, assemblies and systems that make for a modern building, it is not unreasonable to expect real estate agents to be forthcoming with vital information about the durability and operating costs of the buildings they are selling. Explaining the potential problems associated with glass condo towers that have been identified by technical experts to their prospective buyers, would be no different than a general practitioner explaining the risks associated with certain medications and procedures to their patients. The real estate industry has not taken a proactive approach to such issues yet it is usually the first point of contact for consumers of real estate.


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Condominium Ownership WHAT you need to know!


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Telecom access in a condo building

Clear decision from the courts on the limitation of cable and internet services provided inside condo buildings

You cannot exclude a service provider.

In a recent decision, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (“CTRC”) threatened to cut off all telecommunications services to a condominium building if the condominium corporation did not provide timely access on reasonable terms and conditions to a fourth telecommunications service provider (“TSP”).
There were already three TSP’s providing services to TSCC No. 2322 (the “Corporation”). Discussions between the Corporation and Beanfield Technologies Inc. (“Beanfield”) failed to result in any access rights being granted to Beanfield. The Corporation’s position was that:
§ The building’s infrastructure could not accommodate Beanfield’s network, as there wasn’t sufficient capacity in the existing conduits for Beanfield’s fibres;
§ Allowing Beanfield to install additional conduits (which Beanfield offered to do at its own expense) would cause unnecessary disruption to residents;
§ If access was given to Beanfield to construct additional conduits, the construction would have to be done by contractors approved by the Corporation;
§ As there were already three TSP’s in the building there was sufficient competitive choice for residents to select a TSP.
Beanfield brought an application to the CRTC requesting that the CRTC require the Corporation to provide access to Beanfield. Beanfield also requested that access be granted on commercially reasonable terms as set out in either its standard access agreement or in the access agreements which the Corporation had previously entered into with Bell or Rogers.
The CRTC determined that at a minimum Beanfield should be entitled to access from the street to the building’s main terminal room, access to the units upon request for its services, plus access required for the purpose of installing, operating, maintaining and replacing Beanfield’s facilities. However, the CRTC felt that it was not appropriate for the terms of either the Bell or Rogers contract to apply as Beanfield was not entitled to benefit from negotiations in which it did not participate.  The CRTC also did not support the Corporation’s position that Beanfield’s installations could only be carried out by contractors approved by the Corporation, on the basis that this was a term that the parties should negotiate between themselves.
Ultimately the CRTC did not order the Corporation to provide access to Beanfield. Instead, the CRTC left it to the parties to finalize negotiations for access, with strong negative ramifications for the Corporation and in particular, the residents, if Beanfield was not granted the access rights as described above:
§ If access is not granted to Beanfield within 60 days, then the existing TSP’s would not be permitted to provide services to any new resident of the condominium or to any current resident who was not an existing customer of the applicable TSP.
§ If access is not granted to Beanfield within 90 days, then the existing TSP’s would not be able to upgrade or modify the services currently being provided to existing customers.
§ If access is not granted within 120 days, then the CRTC would consider either issuing an order requiring that access be granted to Beanfield or alternatively, issue a decision that the existing TSP’s would no longer be permitted to provide any services to the condominium residents.
The CRTC decision was aimed at facilitating competition and maximizing consumer choice, so that residents would be able to select the TSP of their choice regardless of the type of dwelling in which they resided.
This decision by the CRTC puts all condominium corporations on notice that they cannot deny timely access on reasonable terms and conditions to any new TSP.

Technology changes everything.

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David Pylyp
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