Monday, September 19, 2011

Should Condo Property Managers be Regulated?

Should Condo Property Managers be Regulated?  ~ $ 20 million Fraud

Ontario Real Estate Source                                 

By Brian Madigan LL.B.

The question following a $20 million fraud of at least 7 condominium corporations is whether or not the Ontario Government should take steps to regulate property managers.

Manzoor Khan as the principal of Channel Property Management is alleged to have defrauded lenders and condominiums out of millions by falsely registering mortgages against the titles.

The essential reason is that the board of directors in many residential condominiums are simple, average, unsophisticated homeowners who may have the time to devote to the board but don’t have the necessary qualifications, education or experience for the position.

Retail and commercial owners can fend for themselves. It is the smaller, lower end condo corporation which is vulnerable. As the building gets older and the residents age and lack new sources of income, they become more and more vulnerable to rogue property managers.

I should, of course, point out that there is not a growing trend of rogue property managers, but I suppose one is enough, based upon the damage that one person can do.

It can have a severe impact when millions of dollars are pledged in a series of fraudulent transactions against a condominium.

In one case, a condo unit was purchased for $152,000 but can’t be sold for $70,000 just a few months later. In some cases, it is the working poor who suffer. Many families have immigrated and are often dependent upon a single wage earner in a low end position. There’s not much room left for saving. Others have second and third jobs, and they are the lucky ones, while others on welfare have no other source of income and may eventually face eviction.

If the industry were regulated:

1)     training and education would be provided,
2)     a code of ethics would be followed,
3)     mandatory spot audits would operate as a deterrent, and
4)     basic insurance would be mandatory.

In this case, with respect to insurance I’m referring to bonding the individuals involved with money and having insurance to back up fraud and defalcation.

So, who pays? The condo corporation of the lenders! They were probably both negligent in the handling of the situation. It sounds more like tort liability than contract.
So, who gets paid? Obviously, the lawyers and the auditors!

As a society, we have failed to protect some of our most vulnerable. We have encouraged them to buy, but we have not provided the basic tools to allow them to protect themselves. The condos that were victimized were not the high end expensive downtown condos owned by lawyers, doctors, stock brokers and the like. They were the lower end, poorer condos catering to the working class new Canadians. What a great way to invest in your new country!

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker is an author and commentator on real estate matters, if you are interested in residential or commercial properties in Mississauga, Toronto or the GTA, you may contact him through Royal LePage Innovators Realty, Brokerage 905-796-8888