A Toronto city councillor started removing ads for condominiums that have yet to be approved in his neighbourhood, saying the advertisements mislead buyers, and even calling one "illegal".
"I have residents come up to me and say, 'but I thought that was approved,'" said Josh Matlow, councillor of ward 22. "Well, of course you thought it was approved because the developers[have] a big sign saying: coming soon."
But there is no law preventing developers from selling units without a building permit. If customers purchase units in a building that does not secure approval, their deposit is returned with interest.
Matlow wants developers to use ¼ of their ad space to indicate the condo is still waiting for city approval.
He moved a motion asking the province to mandate this, but Queen's Park has not yet responded to his request.
Matlow documented his anger at the signage Monday evening on Twitter.
See that huge development ad? It's illegal, the condos haven't been approved & I'm working to get rid of it. pic.twitter.com/yRDzBSQsMQ— Josh Matlow (@JoshMatlow) August 5, 2013
This development also hasn't been approved but Freed is still trying to sell you a hypothetical condo. pic.twitter.com/TmLQH4Ld1w— Josh Matlow (@JoshMatlow) August 5, 2013
After passing by two such signs, Matlow tweeted that he will get rid of any a-frame ad selling unappproved condos that he sees.
I walk around Ward 22 a lot. And developers: Every A frame sign I see on our sidewalks selling unapproved condos I am personally ditching.— Josh Matlow (@JoshMatlow) August 5, 2013
Matlow then hid a sign for Red Path Condos behind a mailbox at the Yonge Street and Manor Road intersection.
Come pick it up Freed & store it in a garage. One of your signs is now behind the mailbox at Yonge & Manor. pic.twitter.com/KF9vnwhqVX— Josh Matlow (@JoshMatlow) August 5, 2013
Not everyone agrees with Matlow that current signs are misleading.
Anyone can ask about a condo's status and the approval information is also included in buyer contracts, said Brad Lamb, a Toronto condo developer.
"If he's concerned about people not being aware of what's going on in his ward, he needs to do a better job of making people aware of it," said Lamb. "It's not difficult."