2020 has been a year for getting to know our own homes. Maybe more than we would like.
For apartment and condo dwellers, problems can arise that did not exist before. Maybe barking from a neighbor’s dog wasn’t a problem until you had to do an eight-hour work day at home. Or maybe your pandemic soundtrack is the person next door whose pandemic hobby is learning to play the drums.
Complaints about condominiums are on the rise, and no one knows it better than Shane Haskell, CEO and President of Lionheart Property Management in London, Ont.
Haskell spoke to Afternoon route host Chris dela Torre on how the pandemic has altered the day-to-day tasks of his business, which manages more than sixty residential properties in London, Grand Bend and Toronto.
Q: What are the most common complaints you hear from renters as people continue to spend more time at home?
There are a lot of different factors that have played into the pandemic this year. For example, some people have additional pets. There are more parking problems. And with more people working from home, it creates additional waste because there are more packages coming in and utility costs go up because people are at home – more showers, more electricity consumption, that sort of thing.
Q: You mentioned the three Ps: animals, parking and people. How much do tenants suffer from these kinds of problems?
This is quite common, and more so in high rise buildings and the like where you see utilities included in the condo fee. These fees are actually increasing, putting additional pressure on the budgets we have, costing society more money. And there are a lot of people who don’t work, or who have reduced wages, etc. So that’s causing financial stress there.
Q: How would you compare your daily job to what it looked like, say, a year or two ago?
It’s actually become a lot of ‘people management’, not so much property management (laughs). So, you know, so it’s all about varying degrees of communication. We need to communicate a lot more with the owners, with the members of the board of directors, with the contractors.
In addition, people who stay at home now find more things that need to be fixed. And there are fewer people to do this work. So it also has a lot of impact. People’s emotions are high. So, yes, there is additional stress. Tenants call us often with not so positive communication. So all around it was trying to communicate the information that we have on some of the different processes that we are currently running behind schedule.
Q: It sounds like a bunch of factors on top of each other: People are more at home, so we spend more time with the next door neighbor, whether they like it or not. They also have more time to find things in the house that are broken, which makes it harder to find people to fix things. What are the craziest stories you’ve heard that really come to your mind when it comes to some of the issues people face?
Aside from some of the common issues with parking and that sort of thing, some of the challenges are related to government restrictions right now. Due to mask regulations, we had to create notices that must be posted in buildings to comply with COVID guidelines. And so people are calling and complaining that, oh “this person is not wearing a mask, this person is not wearing a mask.” But I don’t have the power to do anything about it, other than posting what is required in the municipality. And, you know, it was tough.
Q: What do you think next year will be like?
I hope for much better! (Laughs). I am certainly hopeful.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Afternoon route6:51Condominium complaints are on the rise