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Que. condo owners considering taking managers to court over building conditions

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Editor's note: This article was updated on Aug. 9, 2023, after CTV News received a statement from the Board of Directors of Presidential Towers Condominiums.

People in a Cote Saint-Luc condo complex say their building has fallen into disrepair, despite having their condo fees recently hiked by 25 per cent.

“Every year we’re adding money, money, money, and nothing is happening,” said Dana Proubska, who owns a condo at the Presidential Tower.

On July 5, residents say they received a notice that their fees were going to rise. However, they say, the building has several unresolved cleanliness issues, and they don’t know where the money is going.

“We feel we lost total power of our investments and our places,” said Proubska. “Decisions are being made without our consultation.”

She says a lot of people in the building are afraid to come forward. Another resident, Elona Kravetz, believes she was kicked off the board of directors after advocating for her neighbours.

“When I started to say my opinion, board members didn’t accept (it),” she said. “Access was cut to the financial statements, to meetings.”

She says condo owners have a right to know how their money is being spent. Several people have also criticized the building’s management, claiming they’ve taken advantage of those who are more vulnerable.

“Here, people, they are sick,” said resident Soloman Suissa.”Why? Because they are old. They don’t know what is going on.”

“In addition to the condo fees and my mortgage, I have to have money to eat, to support my son,” said another resident, Carmen Schneider. “But I don't have any of that money left.”

In a statement provided to CTV News after this story was published, the board of directors vehemently denied the allegations that nothing has been done to maintain the buildings.

Board president Abram Grinfield and vice-president Alla Serova Goldenberg said the buildings were suffering from "years of neglect" and that, since its election in 2020, PTC has undertaken major projects, including overhauling the boiler rooms, replacing the heating and cooling systems, modernizing the elevators, as well as upgrades to ensure compliance with the fire safety code.

While the repairs were expensive, the statement went on to say that they were absolutely essential.

"Considering the current state of affairs, we have had no other choice but to levy special assessments to fund the required work," the statement said.

"The current administration has continuously tried to find a balance between its obligation to have the work done and the fragile financial situation of certain co-owners. However, letting the buildings deteriorate further to keep fees low is not an option."

The board also said that condo fees haven't been increased in nearly 10 years. "With inflation remaining stubbornly high, it is impossible to manage our buildings properly without increasing operating revenues (i.e. condo fees)," the board wrote.

If co-owners feel unsatisfied with how the condos are managed, Grinfield and Goldenberg say residents are invited to vote and run in the next condo board election.

Residents are considering a class-action lawsuit, and some have already hired their own lawyers.

“You can force the board to deal fairly with all co-owners, and to do the work it’s supposed to do,” Montreal laywer Julius Grey told CTV.

Grey is not currently representing any of the condo owners who live in the building.

The next general assembly meeting is set to take place virtually on Aug. 24.

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