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Condo board can install security cameras at its discretion without owner approval

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Our condo board of directors sent out a notice to that security cameras were being installed. No information was given about the cost and owners were not advised whether they are entitled to vote on the installation. Doesn’t the Condominium Act require the board to provide that information? We don’t believe that the cameras are necessary for our security.

The installation of security cameras constitutes an addition, alteration or improvement to the common elements. The Condominium Act requires the board to send a notice to the owners describing the addition, alteration or improvement, setting out its estimated cost and how it will be paid. It also requires that the board tell owners they are entitled to requisition an owner’s meeting to vote on the alteration.

Security cameras can be installed, without an owners’ vote, if the board deems it necessary for safety.
Security cameras can be installed, without an owners’ vote, if the board deems it necessary for safety.  (Dreamstime)

The Condo Act provides, however, that the corporation — by resolution of the board and without notice to the owners — may carry out the addition, alteration or improvement in certain circumstances. That includes if, in the opinion of the board, it is necessary for the safety or security of the persons using the property.

Therefore, even if many owners disagree, the board’s opinion that the cameras were necessary for security is all that is needed for the corporation to carry out the installation — without providing the notice to the unit owners that would otherwise be required.

I am an owner and resident at a townhouse condominium. I have been attending the sessions prior to board meetings at which owners are invited to raise matters and concerns. My questions about problems with the board’s procedures, in regard to proxy forms, are answered by the president with responses such as “it’s with the lawyers,” or “we will discuss it at the board meeting later,” or “maybe you’ll get a reply soon.” My written and verbal communications with the president have been ignored. What can I do?

If the disagreement relates to requirements of the Condominium Act — and not to the requirements of declaration, bylaws or rules — the matter cannot be referred to mediation under the Condo Act. It must be referred to court for the issuance of a compliance order.

In your situation, the disagreement may well relate to the obligation of the directors under the Condo Act to act honestly and in good faith. You could maintain that the directors have failed to act honestly and in good faith by not answering your questions that have been properly raised prior to the directors’ meetings, and by the failure of the directors to reply to your verbal and written requests submitted to the president.

If the judge rules in your favour, you could request the court to order that the condominium corporation reimburse you for your legal costs relating to the court application. You could even request that the directors be personally responsible for reimbursing you as a result of their failure to act honestly and in good faith.

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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