Ontario condo owners hit with $20K special assessment

Country Lane Estates in Aurora, Ont. is a community of about 200 townhouse condominium units. Recently, the board of directors sent a notice to owners that $3.5 million is needed for renovations and individual unit owners will have to pay their share.

“I just want answers and they won’t give us answers to anything,” said Lori West-Ritza, a unit owner who has lived in the development for the past three years.

West-Ritza told CTV News Toronto she has concerns about the repairs because her balcony was removed from her unit 10 months ago and a fence has been put up around her property.

She pays $740 a month in maintenance fees and she has been told she must pay a special assessment of $19,687 by next month.

“That is a lot of money to hand over and we are being told there won’t be any work done for a year. We are also not being told what work is being done with this money,” West Ritza said.

The townhouse complex also has an in-ground swimming pool, but despite the hot, humid summer, it is not open and residents said it was not opened at all this year.

Other residents at the complex also contacted CTV News with concerns about the special assessment but did not wish to be identified for the story.

In the letter to owners, it says the board of directors approved a special assessment of $3.5 million which will allow for the completion of approved projects including balcony, window, carport and door replacements, as well the continuation of roof repairs and repairs to reopen the pole.

CTV News called and emailed the property manager of the development several times and did not get a response.

The Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) is a group that tries to help condo owners, buyers, managers and directors deal with problems facing developments such as special assessments and the underfunding of reserve funds.

“These are concerning situations and we certainly empathize with the owners facing a special assessment,” said CEO of CAO Robin Dafoe.

Dafoe added, “We hear from boards all the time that are trying to manage and balance the interests of the owner’s budgets and preserving the value of the condominium.”

The Condo Owners Association (COA) is a group that also tries to advise condo owners on financial matters and said they are hearing more complaints about special assessments and escalating maintenance fees that are not topping up reserve funds.

Linda Pinizzotto, the founder and president of the COA, said anyone asked to pay a special assessment should be able to get clear answers as to exactly what the money is being used for.

“If the board is not calling a special meeting to discuss these kinds of expenses, especially large expenditures, chances are you already have a problem,” Pinizzotto.

West Ritza said she has been given until Sept. 5 to pay the special assessment of almost $20,000.

“I mean they threatened a lien on our property if it doesn’t get paid,” West-Ritza said.

The CAO added that inflation is also making everything more expensive including the cost to maintain and repair condo buildings.

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