Condo, Strata and HOA News

Tag Archives: water

City of Cambridge Punishes Condominiums with Fire Hydrants for $9000/Year

Cambridge, Ontario, has placed a $9000/year charge on condominiums with a fire hydrant or other “big pipe”, a cost which is charged on top of the water and sewage costs each owner individually bears. The water and sewage, up 10% in January, are scheduled to almost double by 2019.

Condominiums offer great boons to a municipality – they create a high density residential area, forming an environmentally responsible, affordable and sustainable municipality. Edward Glaeser sets out this argument in his February 2011 The Atlantic article “How Skyscrapers Can Save the City”

Eric Jaffe points out in his article “The Case for a D.C.-Baltimore Mega-Region” that higher density will save about $1.5 billion a year in spending on roads, schools, and other infrastructure. Residents would also save about $400/year if only 1/4 of the region’s planned low density becomes high-density.

Calgary, Alberta, Canada has recently completed a study that shows dense city development moving forward will save 33% in total capital costs, and 14% less in operating costs, then current density levels.

It is without argument that condominiums contribute significantly to the fiscal wellbeing of municipalities. But instead of rewarding owners in such developments, municipalities punish them with additional costs – often to the benefit of unsustainable low-density zoning and development.

Regarding water, sewage, and condominiums – the municipal cost for supplying and maintaining kilometres and kilometers of piping are saved with high density living. That should be recognized by the municipality, not punished.

Condo President Indicates Water Leak Not Unusual

I’m not aware of any building code that indicates “the building will be structurally sound, unless stressed strongly by Mother Nature, at which point it’s ok if there’s an envelope failure”. But that’s what Lynn Shore Towers, Massachusetts, Board of Trustees President Robert Trucker said of a resident’s ongoing issue with water running into their unit.

People got heavy torrential downpour over a couple of hours — it’s not unusual that you would have a leak. This isn’t a leak that’s been ongoing that nobody’s done anything about. The problem was solved.

Well, if it still leaks then the problem wasn’t solved.

Previously the owners of the unit had their ceiling collapse because of water damage requiring the couple to vacate the premises over a week, and deal with three months of an open ceiling before receiving a fix. The leak then came back and has been repatched twice.  Now Edward and Maria Mitchell are getting water again.

The role of a board, and the collection of condominium fees, is to ensure the maintenance and repair the common elements (like the roof and overall building envelope). It doesn’t matter the cost or the complexity, or if it only affects one unit in a multi-unit building, repairs must be performed and done well.

Water is one of the most damage causing issues a condominium can face, and it’s never a situation to take lightly. Any water issues should be addressed fully and completely. It’s never, ever, usual that a building should have a leak because of rain – even a horrific downpour.

Condominiums Favorite Target for Surprise Water Bills

Insurance, Natural Gas, Electric, and Water/Sewage are usually the four big budget items for any condominium. Together in one condominium that I own in, that represents 48% of our operating budget (excludes contributions to reserve fund). As they are such large amounts of a budget, even small fluxuations in billing can significantly impact a condominium.

Watson Heights Condominiums in Guelph, Ontario, received a $25,603.89 bill for 21 days of excessive use. The water consumption was normal before and after, and during that time there were no repairs of leaks or burst pipes. The meter was tested and was determined accurate. The residents will have to pay for this ghost water consumption.

Kingman Acres Village Condominiums in Florida was 70 percent higher one month because of a software glitch that public works admits happened (kudos to the city for quickly identifying the issue and owning up to it – that’s admirable and should be supported).

A condominium in Sandy Springs, Ga. received a more than double bill ($16,000 vs. an average of $6,500) ghost consumption bill in early this year.

And a whole swack ( here, here, and here) of condominium complexes this year have received outrageous bills because the city metering system (1) either had been failing to bill over time – sometimes for years, or (2) when the condominium was switched to metered billing, the difference over actual consumption and assumed was back billed – again up to 5 years.

In all my searching though, I never did find a report of a city municipal water service rebating a condominium for having lower metered billing than the averaged billing. Seems payment is a one way issue.