Q. I am supposed to close a condominium purchase in short order and there are problems with the unit. There is no flooring and doors on bathrooms etc. It is my understanding that as long as there is a toilet, running water and a lock on the front door that the unit is considered livable. My bank is looking for a City occupancy permit (which some cities no longer provide) before they give me my mortgage funds to close. I am at a loss for what to do and want to move in because I have been camping on friend’s couches for the last couple of months while I wait for the unit to be ready.

A. Your problem is quite common in today’s City of Toronto strike. The city inspectors are on strike and there is no movement with respect to their arrival at building sites to finally approve construction. Banks are extremely reluctant to forward what is often several hundreds of thousands of dollars in mortgage funds when they don’t have inspectors sign off by the city.

One financial institution has approached this problem rather pragmatically and has agreed to accept an engineer’s report stating that the building complies with the building code. This is a compromise that is palatable to my senses as a lawyer and someone who needs to close housing transactions regardless of the inspection by a city inspector. One warning is that if after the city strike has concluded, that the inspectors will come on site and sign off on the structure, or if there are deficiencies, that they need to be immediately addressed. The end result is that banks want to make sure that their collateral is secure.

Amazing how a simple city strike can affect so many facets of day-to-day life: Not just garbage pickup.

– Jeffrey Cowan is the principal with Cowan Taylor and McGee, Barristers & Solicitors. The information in this article should not be relied upon as legal advice.

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