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When a pet free condo gets pets, what do you do?

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I purchased my condo because it was in a pet free building. I am very allergic to cats and dogs and have a mental fear of them. There are now three dogs in my building which are claimed to be support dogs and not service dogs. One of the dogs resides in the unit across the hall from my unit. What can I do?

If your condo is pet free it must be because there is a declaration provision or a rule prohibiting pets. A declaration prohibition is effective, even if unreasonable. A rule must be reasonable but the courts have held it must be clearly unreasonable. A rule prohibiting pets would not appear to be clearly unreasonable and, therefore, would appear to be valid.

A condo corp.’s declaration provision, or rule, prohibiting pets is valid and should be followed by owners and tenants, writes Gerry Hyman.
A condo corp.’s declaration provision, or rule, prohibiting pets is valid and should be followed by owners and tenants, writes Gerry Hyman.  (Dreamstime)

If there is a declaration provision, or a rule, prohibiting pets you could advise the board of its obligation — under the Condominium Act — to enforce the declaration or rules. If the board does not take steps to require the removal of the dogs, you could require mediation with the corporation in an attempt to get an agreement about the removal of the dogs.

If the board refuses in mediation to agree, the matter will proceed to arbitration and the arbitrator can order the corporation to require the removal of the dogs. The arbitrator could also be requested to order the corporation to reimburse you for your legal costs for the arbitration.

A disabled unit owner would be entitled to retain a service dog trained to assist in dealing with a disability. An untrained dog that an owner refers to as a support dog would not be permitted, contrary to the declaration or rule.

Our board has labelled the handicapped parking signs in our parking garage “visitors only” and has circulated a letter advising that occupants of the building with a handicapped sticker cannot use a handicapped parking spot. Can the board do that?

Such a prohibition would likely be found in a rule prohibiting handicapped unit owners from using the handicapped parking spots. A board may pass rules respecting the use of the common elements or units but the rules must not be clearly unreasonable. A rule preventing a person with a disability from using a more favourably located handicapped parking spot may be found to be clearly unreasonable.

A disabled owner could require mediation with the corporation which could result in arbitration and a binding decision by the arbitrator. The rule may also contravene the Ontario Human Rights Code that requires the corporation to accommodate the disability of an occupant of the condo should a disabled occupant take issue with the prohibition.

Gerry Hyman is a former president of the Canadian Condominium Institute and contributor for the Star. Reach him on email: gerry@gerryhyman.com

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Victoria real estate agent disciplined for false advertising, encouraging cash deal to avoid taxes

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A Victoria real estate agent is facing $9,000 in fines and a 60-day licence suspension after breaking several professional rules during the sale of her father’s half-million-dollar property, according to a decision by the Real Estate Council of B.C. 

Whitney Garside’s missteps — outlined this week in a disciplinary decision posted on the council’s website — included falsely advertising the property as being almost twice its actual size and advising the buyer they could avoid the property transfer tax if they paid cash directly to the seller.

The property on Burnett Road in Victoria was being sold in 2016 by the real estate agent’s father. That relationship was disclosed and isn’t among the reasons she has been disciplined.

According to the disciplinary consent order, Garside told the buyer — whose name is redacted — that by paying $42,000 cash on the side, the value of the property could be reduced to avoid paying the property transfer tax.

That cash arrangement was not shared with Garside’s brokerage, Re/Max Camosun, a failure that contravened the Real Estate Services Act.

The council also ruled that she “failed to act honestly and with reasonable care and skill” when she advised the buyer the property transfer tax could be avoided by paying cash directly to the seller. 

The council’s discipline committee also found that Garside committed professional misconduct when she failed to recommend the seller and buyer seek independent legal advice, specifically regarding the property transfer tax and the cash agreement.

Another issue the council considered professional misconduct involved the size of the property in question.

The council ruled that Garside published false and misleading advertising and failed to act with reasonable care and skill when the property was advertised as 8,712 square feet, when in fact a portion of the lot belonged to the Ministry of Transportation, and the actual size was just 4,711 square feet.

The discipline committee ordered Garside’s licence be suspended for 60 days, which will be completed Jan. 3, 2021.

She has also been ordered to complete real estate ethics and remedial classes at her own expense.

Garside was also fined $7,500 as a disciplinary penalty and $1,500 in enforcement expenses.

She agreed to waive her right to appeal the council’s discipline committee’s decision in September.

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Frisco apartment community sells to Canadian investor

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A Canada-based investor has purchased a Frisco apartment community as part of a larger Texas deal.

The 330-unit Satori Frisco apartments opened last year on Research Road in Frisco.

BSR Real Estate Investment Trust bought the four-story rental community that was built by Atlanta-based Davis Development.

Satori Frisco was more than 90% leased at the time of sale. The property includes a two-story fitness center, a car care center, a dog park and a resort-style swimming pool.

The Frisco property sold along with Houston’s Vale luxury apartments in a deal valued at $129 million.

“BSR recently exited the smaller Beaumont and Longview, Texas, markets and also sold noncore properties in other markets,” John Bailey, BSR’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We are now using our strong liquidity position to invest in Vale and Satori Frisco, modern communities in core growth markets with the amenities our residents desire.”

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House prices on Prince Edward Island continue steady climb

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Residential real estate prices on Prince Edward Island continue to climb at a rate higher than the national average, according to the latest report from a national organization. 

The Canadian Real Estate Association released monthly figures for November 2020 on Tuesday.

They show that the average price for a resale home on P.E.I. is about 21 per cent higher than it was a year earlier. 

Only Quebec had a bigger year-over-year increase, at about 23 per cent. Overall across Canada, prices were up 13.8 per cent year over year in the ninth month of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For the fifth straight month, year-over-year sales activity was up in almost all Canadian housing markets compared to the same month in 2019,” the report noted.

“Meanwhile, an ongoing shortage of supply of homes available for purchase across most of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces means sellers there hold the upper hand in sales negotiations.”

That lack of houses coming onto the market compared to the demand means that in those provinces, there is “increased competition among buyers for listings and … fertile ground for price gains.”

There have been anecdotal reports for months that Prince Edward Island’s low rate of COVID-19 infection and looser rules around social activities have been encouraging people to buy homes on the Island. 

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