British Columbia

B.C. leaky-condo loan fund dries up

The B.C. government has scrapped its program to provide interest-free loans to owners of leaky condominiums, leaving many owners shocked and uncertain about the future of their homes.

The B.C. government has scrapped its program to provide interest-free loans to owners of leaky condominiums, leaving many owners shocked and uncertain about the future of their homes.

Because of a construction slowdown, the government is no longer raising enough money from a levy on new residential projects it was using to finance the interest-free-loans, said B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman in a statement Friday.

The loans were administered through the Homeowners Protection Office (HPO).

"The reconstruction loan program will stop accepting new applications, effective July 31, 2009," Coleman said in the statement.

"This is going to leave a large number of leaky-condo owners destitute," said Vancouver condo owner James Balderson, who led a campaign in the 1990s to get help for property owners whose condos started leaking because of shoddy workmanship.

Thousands of condominiums constructed across B.C. during a decade of frenzied growth between the late 1980s and early 1990s were found to leak, a serious problem in the province's generally rainy climate.

The leaks rotted out walls and roofs, causing more than $1 billion in damage. Repair bills were the responsibility of owners.

In 1998, the government created the loan program to help owners with the repair costs. It has approved more than $670 million in loans since it was launched.

An owners group led by Balderson, the Coalition of Leaky Condo Owners, has urged the government to come up with a replacement for the loan program that will protect homeowners.

Condo owners at The Sovereign condominium building in Victoria were uncertain Friday how they would be affected. Their loan applications went in earlier this year, and they've been waiting for the money to arrive.

The HPO suddenly went silent a few months ago after being in regular communication with owners at  The Sovereign, said Linda Soloshy, president of the building's strata council.

"I could see the writing on the wall," Soloshy told CBC News when told of Coleman's announcement.

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