Son is back to couch surfing at mom's after condo buy goes south
Lawyers say there are few options when floor plan doesn't match finished product
A Toronto woman and her son are in the midst of a legal battle with a developer over a new condo that — they say — is too badly built to occupy.
Farah Rahman and her son Ornab Momin say the unit they picked from a brochure and paid $385-thousand for in 2015 is very different from the unit they actually received when Momin moved in last September. The condo is located on Bathurst Street near Queen Street West.
"This was originally, conceptually, my dream home," Momin told CBC Toronto Tuesday. "It ended up being quite a nightmare."
He said when he moved in to the unit last September he had no running water for the first week. Then the elevator died, and has yet to be fixed, despite an order from the city.
He also points to pipes that have been installed directly beneath his overhead lights, and draughty windows. He says he has no storage locker, despite his agreement with the builder, and no access to mail.
But worst of all, he says, when he entered the 600-square-foot unit for an inspection, he discovered a large closet had been added to the floor plan, taking up one corner of his already-tight living room.
"They put a mechanical closet where my living room should have been," he said Tuesday. "I have no ability to have a TV, no ability to have a couch. It makes the space completely unusable."
But Sayf Hassan, co-founder of Symmetry Development, wrote in an email to CBC Toronto Wednesday that his engineers told him the HVAC equipment could go nowhere else.
Developer blames buyers
He said most of Momin's complaints are minor and will be fixed within months, although he refused to provide CBC Toronto with a timeline.
And he blamed some of the problems on Momin and Rahman.
"They've been trashing their unit," he told CBC Toronto in a telephone interview Tuesday. Hassan also says they haven't paid their fees.
"They're two months in arrears. We sent them a termination notice."
Hassan says he's got 23 units in the building and that 20 are now occupied.
"Everyone's living in there. Everyone's happy," he claimed, although he eventually admitted to CBC Toronto the elevator in the building isn't working, although it should be operational as early as this week.
Momin and Rahman deny they have failed to pay any of their monthly occupancy fees so far, and say they have not received a termination notice.
Momin said he moved out in January. He and his mother have contacted a lawyer with expertise in real estate law.
But another real estate lawyer, Audrey Loeb of the firm Miller Thompson — who's not familiar with this case — said pre-construction condo buyers have a tough time winning in court if they have a problem with the finished product.
Not like buying a car
"It's like going and buying a car, and the car comes in and it doesn't have a back seat, and it doesn't have a radio," she said. "Well, you wouldn't take the car. But you have to take the condo unit. That's how our law operates in Ontario."
Laurie Stephens, a spokesperson for Tarion, the provincial agency that warrantees new homes and monitors builders, said her group could act as a mediator in this case.
"We always encourage new homeowners to contact us if they're having issues with their builder, so we can help."
For now, Momin says, he's sleeping on his mother's couch.