Jan 232014
ICC World Cup Qualifier: MacLeod blows Canada away

ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier: 18th Match, Canada vs Scotland, 23rd of January 2014, at Christchurch

With the help of Calum MacLeod and his blistering 175(141), Scotland blew Canada away with ease as Scotland won by a staggering 170 run margin. With MacLeod getting his name on the record books for the second-highest score by an Associate player in an ODI, with his score becoming the third-highest by an associate player in a Lisa A game.

The victory sealed Scotland’s position in the Super Sixes and ended Canada’s run of World Cup appearances going back to the 2003 World Cup.

Having won the toss, Canada invited Scotland to bat first which proved a disastrous decision. However their plans went awry when they caught MacLeod in this aggressive mood. Scotland posted 341/9 from their allotted 50-overs but it could have been far worse without Khurram Chohan picking up 5-68. With Chohan picking up the wicket of MacLeod on the first ball of the 46th over.

While Canada needed to run this total down quickly to surpass Scotland’s net run-rate, which realistically was never going to happen, especially with Scotland picking up regular wickets. The top four fell within the first ten overs as Canada fell apart.

Their batting efforts were nothing worth remembering with the exception of Hamza Tariq who managed to hold his head high with a fine 71(70) but it was in vain as Scotland blew his team-mates aside.

With the majority of the bowlers founding their names in the wicket column as Scotland cruised home by 170-runs.


Scotland 341/9 (MacLeod 175; Chohan 5-68) beat Canada 171 (Tariq 71; Shariq 2-23) by 170 runs.

Man of the Match: Calum MacLeod(Scotland)

Image: (Getty Images)

Jan 122014
Last chance to book berth at World Cup 2015

Five years worth of fluctuating fortunes in the World Cricket League Championship culminates in the 2014 ICC World Cup Qualifier, beginning in New Zealand on Monday. Teams as low as Division Seven of the ICC’s 50-over round-robin tournament structure had the chance to climb the Associate and Affiliate ladder to get within striking distance of a spot at the 2015 ICC World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Two Associate berths remain available for next year’s event after Ireland and Afghanistan snatched a pair of places by virtue of finishing first and second in the ICC World Cricket League. The bottom six teams in the WCL Championship are joined in New Zealand by the third and fourth place teams from WCL Division Two in 2011 – Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong – as well as the first and second place teams from last year’s ICC WCL Division Three, Nepal and Uganda.

The 10 teams are split into two groups of five for the initial phase of round-robin play after which the top three from each group will advance to the Super Six stage and remain in the hunt for a World Cup berth. Points gained from the group stage against fellow Super Six participants will carry over while the three teams in Group A will each play three crossover games with the three that advance from Group B. The top two teams after the Super Six stage will advance to the final and gain entry to next year’s World Cup.

Group A

Paras Khadka smashes one down the ground, Hong Kong v Nepal, ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, quarter-final, Abu Dhabi, November 27, 2013

Captain Paras Khadka has been the backbone of Nepal’s success in recent years © ICC

They narrowly missed out on one of the two places available for World Cup qualification in the WCL Championship, finishing just one point behind Afghanistan. They were good enough to sweep both 50-over games they played against Afghanistan during the competition and went 6-2 overall in games played in the UAE with their only losses at home coming to Ireland.

On the road they were not quite as formidable, going 3-3 including a loss to Kenya in their first match of the tournament and a sweep at the hands of Netherlands, who finished in fourth place on the table. Their ability to adjust to New Zealand conditions with a bowling attack light on seam options and heavy on spin will be a major factor. UAE showed in their two warm-up matches ahead of the qualifier, though, that any fears of a struggle may be unfounded, with heavy wins over Uganda and pre-tournament favorites Netherlands.

After finishing fifth in the WCL Championship and a disappointing seventh at November’s World Twenty20 Qualifier, a mini shakeup occurred with coach Pete Steindl leaving and Paul Collingwood moving up from assistant coach to the top role for the World Cup qualifiers. Scotland need to exploit the seaming conditions in New Zealand if they are to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2007.

Seam bowlers Rob Taylor, Saafyan Sharif and Gordon Goudie demonstrated in the warm-up fixtures against Papua New Guinea and Namibia that they will be a handful to deal with. 22-year-old batsman Matt Machan is also carrying solid form into this tournament. Group A is far more competitive than Group B, but Scotland will be extremely disappointed if they don’t make it to the Super Six stage.

Despite qualifying for the last three World Cups, Canada are the most vulnerable of any of the four Associate ODI nations in this event of not progressing to the Super Six stage. They performed poorly in November at the World Twenty20 Qualifier, finishing 12th, and wound up dead last in the WCL Championship. Head coach Gus Logie was dismissed upon the team’s return from the UAE in December and it is up to interim coach Andy Pick to turn things around on short notice if Canada have any chance of keeping their World Cup streak alive.

John Davison was Canada’s catalyst for success in the last decade but since his departure after the 2011 World Cup, they have been unable to develop a genuine matchwinner. Former captain Ashish Bagai’s early retirement last month at the age of 31 exacerbated the issue of a lack of batting depth. Teenager Nitish Kumar scored a century in a 39-run win over Netherlands in a warm-up match on Friday, but Canada had also beaten Afghanistan in a World T20 Qualifier warm-up match before flopping in the main event.

Hong Kong
This team is one of the most balanced sides in the competition, with a pair of quality fast bowlers in Aizaz Khan and allrounder Irfan Ahmed to go along with good support from spinners Nadeem Ahmed and Nizakat Khan. However, they will miss out on the experience of left-arm spinner Munir Dar, who was the second highest wicket-taker at the World T20 Qualifier. His action was reported twice during the tournament and he was subsequently ruled illegal by the ICC resulting in his suspension from bowling in international cricket for 12 months.

Of Hong Kong’s many young batting talents, batsman Mark Chapman has a lot of experience in local conditions. Chapman had a successful school career in Auckland, captaining King’s College, and is expected to make major contributions in the middle order. The only strike against Hong Kong is their mercurial nature, as likely to score 300 as they are to be bowled out for 120. They must demonstrate consistency to make it out of a stacked Group A and into the Super Six stage.

No team has climbed higher through the most recent WCL tournament cycle than Nepal to reach the qualifier. They started in Division Five in 2010, which they hosted and won, before winning both Division Four in Malaysia in 2012 and Division Three in Bermuda last May. Even though their attack is spin heavy, they have demonstrated that they can be successful in varied conditions away from home.

The backbone of the team’s success in recent years has been captain Paras Khadka but Nepal must get quality contributions from a thin pace bowling unit to survive in the tournament. Sompal Kami, a 17-year-old medium-pace bowler, is expected to make his debut and could provide the spark Nepal need. In the warm-ups he took 4 for 36 against Namibia but was rocked by Kenya to finish with 0 for 86. Nepal needs more of the former and not the latter to stay in the hunt.

Group B

Netherlands' Ahsan Malik picked up four wickets in his spell, Denmark v Netherlands, ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers, Group B, Dubai, November 19, 2013

Netherlands fast bowler Ahsan Malik was the leading wicket-taker at the World T20 Qualifier and should enjoy as much success in seam-friendly conditions in New Zealand © ICC/Getty

The pre-tournament favourites are banking on a quality seam attack and a steady batting unit to produce a return trip to the World Cup. Captain Peter Borren is a former New Zealand U-19 representative and will be drawing on his experiences before migrating to Holland to aid his adopted country at this event.

Fast bowler Ahsan Malik was the leading wicket-taker at the World Twenty20 Qualifier in the UAE and should enjoy just as much success in seam-friendly conditions in New Zealand. A pair of losses in tournament warm-up fixtures to Canada and UAE may cause slight alarm but they are hands down the strongest team in a weak Group B so will be expected to gain maximum points to carry over into the next stage.

Their weaknesses were exposed in a competitive group at the World Twenty20 Qualifier, but Kenya should now benefit from being paired with fellow African nations Namibia and Uganda in Group B. Steve Tikolo was one of the few bright spots in November after coming out of retirement and if he can produce a few more vintage innings then it should be enough for them to get into the Super Sixes.

A big positive for Kenya entering the start of the qualifier is the form of opener Irfan Karim. He made an unbeaten 130 in a narrow two-run loss to Hong Kong in a warm-up fixture on Friday. Kenya are also hoping that a change in leadership, with Rakep Patel taking over the captaincy from Collins Obuya, will help turn things around.

If they had been placed in Group A, Namibia would have a slim chance of making it out of the group stage. They finished equal with Canada on four points in the WCL Championship, but by virtue of having two wins to Canada’s one, they were seventh in the standings on tie-breaker instead of eighth which subsequently resulted in Namibia landing in Group B and Canada in Group A.

Namibia’s luck of the draw is not the only piece of good fortune for them heading into this tournament. Gerrie Snyman, originally left out of the squad for the qualifier, has been added as a replacement for JB Burger. Snyman hadn’t played for Namibia since last January due to a dispute with the Namibia board over his availability but showed what his country has been missing all this time by top-scoring with 73 against Scotland in a warm-up game.

Papua New Guinea
The Pacific Islanders showed plenty of energy at the World Twenty20 Qualifier, making it out of the group stage, but the lack of an explosive slogger in their line-up probably prevented them in the end from finishing in the top six. The steady accumulation of runs needed in 50-over cricket better suits their playing style and will aid their chances of success in this tournament.

PNG don’t have any express bowlers, but a slew of accurate medium-pacers led by captain Chris Amini and Mahuru Dai may pose problems for the opposition. Geraint Jones is the most heralded player in their squad due to his Test credentials, but opener Tony Ura outperformed Jones in the UAE in November and is hoping to build on that experience.

After winning just one game at the 2005 ICC Trophy and two at the 2009 World Cup Qualifier, Uganda are aiming to change their struggles at this tournament. However, the chances of that happening are slim due to the nature of conditions and their lack of batting depth. Uganda must rely on their sharp fielding to make up for deficiencies with the bat and in the pace bowling department.

In Uganda’s favour is the fact that several players carry the experience into this tournament from playing in previous editions of the qualifier. Medium-pacer Charles Waiswa, wicketkeeper Laurence Sematimba and allrounder Frank Nsubuga will be playing in this event for the third time. They will need to shepherd some of the newer faces through the daunting schedule ahead of them.

Jan 032014
Colombo has annulled ‘arrest warrant’ says Sitsabeisan
Home » News

[TamilNet, Friday, 3 January 2014 09:49 No Comment]

“Sri Lankan authorities have confirmed that their previous claims of an arrest warrant in my name does not exist and I now look forward to exploring and learning more about the country of my birth,” says Ms Rathika Sitsabeisan, the elected Eezham Tamil MP from Canada, in a statement released by her party, NDP, in Canada on January 01, 2014.

Full text of the statement from Ms Sitsabeisan follows:

Statement from NDP MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan on her stay in Sri Lanka:

For New Democrats, standing in solidarity with Canadians of Tamil heritage on matters of human rights is part of our shared values as Canadians.

I recently arrived in Sri Lanka to visit my extended family and visit the places that were once home for me, during the earlier stages of my life and the civil war in Sri Lanka; but was subject to political intimidation. I was warned I could be subject to arrest and deportation, as several commonwealth MPs from New Zealand and Australia recently faced.

I have received word from the Canadian High Commission in Colombo that the Sri Lankan authorities have confirmed that their previous claims of an arrest warrant in my name does not exist and I now look forward to exploring and learning more about the country of my birth.

My experiences since arriving in Sri Lanka are a reminder that defending principles of human rights is not easy, but I continue to believe that it is only through open dialogue and freedom of expression that people can ultimately achieve healing and reconciliation.

New Democrats, like millions of Canadians, will continue to staunchly defend human rights and freedom of speech, in Canada and around the world.

[Full Coverage]

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Dec 222013
Ashish Bagai Announces Retirement
Sunday 22 December 2013 

by Daniel Grummitt

Ashish Bagai appeals

Ashish Bagai has been a key player for Canada for much of the past decade.

REUTERS/Vivek Prakash. Picture Supplied by Action Images

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Canada captain and wicket-keeper Ashish Bagai has announced via his Twitter feed that he will retire from cricket at the age of just 31.

Bagai said, “Been an honour to represent Canada over the last 15 yrs. Wish the boys all the best going forward. Will miss the game! #retiring #itstime”

India-born Bagai has struggled for some time to balance the demands of his career in finance with those of being an international cricketer and was expected to retire after the ICC World Cup Qualifier, which will be held in New Zealand next month. However, he has brought that forward, possibly because of Canada’s poor showing in the recent ICC World T20 Qualifier, where they finished 12th out of 16 teams.

Bagai’s departure is huge blow for Canada as they look to maintain their place at Associate/Affiliate cricket’s top table after a disappointing few years. He has consistently been their best batsman of the recent past and will leave a huge hole in the middle-order.

Responding to a well-wisher on Twitter, Bagai said that his best career moments were the victory over Bangladesh in the 2003 ICC World Cup and his side’s strong showing in the 2009 ICC World Cup Qualifier.

© Cricket World 2013

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Group A

Canada, Hong Kong, Nepal, Scotland, United Arab Emirates

Group B

Kenya, Namibia, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Uganda

Nov 192013
Canada Off The Mark, Hong Kong Beaten
Tuesday 19 November 2013 


Canada took their first win by beating Uganda by 44 runs

International Cricket Council

On day five of the ICC World Twenty 2014 Qualifier in the United Arab Emirates, Canada took their first win, Hong Kong were beaten for the first time and there were also victories for Kenya, Nepal, Namibia, the Netherlands and UAE.

In Group A Canada thrashed Uganda by 44 runs to end their wait for a victory, Namibia beat Italy by three wickets and the United Arab Emirates beat previously unbeaten Hong Kong, leaving Ireland as the only side in the competiton with a perfect record.

Group B saw the Netherland hammer Denmark, who are now the only team yet to score a win, by seven wickets, Kenya thump Scotland by 92 runs and Nepal beat Papua New Guinea by seven wickets in a clash between two of the tournament’s early star teams.

Group A

Canada put defeats to USA, Ireland and Hong Kong behind them to despatch Uganda by 44 runs.

They did it despite only two of their batsmen making double figures. Fortunately for them, Jimmy Hansra made 58 not out and Ashish Bagai 40 to help them reach 137 for seven – the pair putting on 49 of those runs together.

Uganda’s innings was also a string of single-figures scores apart from Phillimon Mukobe (21), Davis Karashani (28) and Jonathan Sebanja (20). Just four fours and two sixes were scored by the Ugandans as they limped to 93 all out in 17.2 overs.

The United Arab Emirates brought Hong Kong‘s bright start to an end with a seven-wicket win which came with eight balls to spare.

Hong Kong’s top order batted well enough with Jamie Atkinson making 42 and Nizakat Khan 27 in 20 balls but their lower order was swept aside by Manjula Guruge (3-19), Nasir Aziz (3-20) and Khurram Khan (2-18) and from 122 for three, they closed on 138 for eight.

Tanwir Afzal struck early to remove Shaiman Anwar for four and Abdul Shakoor for eight but UAE, thanks to Mohammad Azam’s 37 and Khurram’s unbeaten 67 in 42 balls swiftly got themselves back on track. The pair put on 76 for the third wicket and after Azam was dismissed by Nadeem Ahmed, Swapnil Patil hit 20 not out in 16 balls to ensure UAE took their third win of the competition.

Italy mounted a strong recovery after being reduced to 27 for four by Namibia but were still unable to put enough runs on the board.

After JJ Smit (2-23) and Nicholas Scholtz (1-16) had seen off the top order, Carl Sandri made 31 and Mick Raso 35 not out in 27 balls to help Italy close on 121 for six.

However, despite the modest target, Namibia needed every single ball of their 20 overs and all but three of their wickets to overhaul it.

LP van der Westhuizen led the charge with 41 at the top of the order before Italy hit back with the wickets of Christi Viljoen (0) and Stephen Baard (1).

Van der Westhuizen then combined with Craig Williams (57 in 51 balls) to add 66 for the third wicket and they seemed on course for a simple win.

Back came Italy again, Sandri removing van der Westhuizen and as Gareth Berg and Madupa Fernando chipped in with a wicket apiece, the game went down to the wire.

Williams fell off the second ball of the final over, and Scholtz one ball later, leaving JP Kotze (5 not out) and Smit (3 not out) with the task of scoring the four runs required, which they managed, keeping their heads to do so with a brace of runs and then a single apiece from the last two balls.

Standings: Hong Kong, Ireland, United Arab Emirates 6 points, Namibia 4 points, Canada, Italy, Uganda, USA 2 points

Group B

Kenya made a slow start to this tournament but are beginning to show some ominous form with Scotland on the end of a heavy defeat when they were bowled out for 91 in reply to 183 for seven.

Kenya’s top order set an excellent foundation for their innings with Steve Tikolo (20), Alex Obanda (25), Nehemiah Odhiambo (26) and Collins Obuya (36) all scoring quickly, teeing things up for Ragheb Aga to smash 52 not out in 25 balls at the death.

Scotland’s innings began in similar fashion as most of their top order batsmen made starts but only David Murphy could reach 20 and they then collapsed alarmingly from 84 for four to 91 all out, losing six wickets for seven runs.

Tikolo completed a good all-round game by taking four of those wickets for just two runs in eight balls while Shem Ngoche returned two for 17.

Denmark at least made it past the 100-run mark against the Netherlands but were well beaten as the Dutch, who are still to be involved in anything approaching a close game, raced to a target of 110 in 10.4 overs.

Denmark’s Kamran Mahmood top scored with 41 in 31 balls but had little support as Ahsan Malik took four for 10 and Peter Borren two for 17 to restrict the Danes to 109 for eight.

The Netherlands were in no mood to hang around and gave their net run-rate a huge boost thanks to Stephan Myburgh’s 54 not out in 32 balls, Wesley Barresi’s 22 in 11 and Borren’s 22 not out in 10 balls, winning the game with more than nine overs to spare.

Only three of Papua New Guinea‘s big hitters got going in this game and Nepal reached their target of 141 in the 19th over to win by seven wickets.

Geraint Jones (55), Mahuru Dai (36 not out) and Tony Ura (22) were the only players to reach double figures as PNG scored 140 for six as Paras Khadka took three for 22.

Nepal’s run chase was led by Subash Khakurel, whose 38 in 37 balls gave them a good platform and although Sagar Pun and Gyanendra Malla both fell for 10, the ever reliable Khadka (26 not out) and Binod Bhandari (51 not out) saw them home with a 71-run partnership for the unbroken fourth wicket.

Standings: Nepal, Netherlands 6 points, Afghanistan, Bermuda, Kenya, Papua New Guinea 4 points, Scotland 2 points, Denmark 0 points

© Cricket World 2013

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Nov 122013
Wins For Canada, Hong Kong, Kenya, PNG
Tuesday 12 November 2013 

by John Pennington

Ashish Bagai, Canada

Ashish Bagai helped Canada to an impressive win over Afghanistan

International Cricket Council

The second set of warm-up games ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 2014 Qualifier in the United Arab Emirates ended with wins for Canada, Hong Kong, Kenya and Papua New Guinea.

Canada overturned Afghanistan to claim an impressive seven-wicket win, Hong Kong thrashed Denmark by 140 runs, Kenya beat Namibia by 37 runs and Papua New Guinea were too strong for Uganda, running out the victors by six wickets.

When the tournament gets underway in three days time, Afghanistan will be bidding to reach their third straight ICC World Twenty20 Finals, but they will have been rocked by losing to Canada, who have never qualified.

They started poorly, losing wickets to Harvir Baidwan, Raza Rehman, Henry Osinde and Junaid Siddiqui and it needed 48 not out in 33 balls from Najibullah Zadran to partially make up for the shortcomings of the top order and get the Afghans up to 128 for five.

That is the sort of score that you need to be on top of your game to defend, and although Afghanistan pushed Canada all the way, they were not able to deliver the required performance in the field.

Ruvindu Gunasekara hit 39 in 44 balls and Ashish Bagai 53 not out in 45 to ensure Canada reached their target with three balls to spare.

The day’s most one-sided fixture was Hong Kong‘s demolition of Denmark. They put together a superb batting effort to make 200 for six and then faced with a daunting target, Denmark collapsed to be all out for just 60.

Irfan Ahmed (45), Nizakat Khan (40) and Babar Hayat (69 not out in 37 balls) were the batting heroes for Hong Kong and after Denmark’s openers were both run out, Aizaz Khan picked up figures of three for two and Nizakat two for six to complete a fine all-round day for himself.

Top scorers for the struggling Danes were Aftab Ahmed and Hamid Shah, who both made 16.

Kenya prepared for this tournament by heading to Sri Lanka, and although they only won one game out of the seven that were played, they started strongly here with a 37-run success over fellow African challengers Namibia.

It was another story of the lower order helping out the top order as Kenya slumped to 64 for four as Bernard Scholtz took three for 14.

Namibia’s progress was checked by Thomas Odoyo, who hit 42 in 31 balls and Rakep Patel, who fell to the last ball of the innings of 160 for five having made 52 in just 27 deliveries.

Namibia then collapsed to 15 for three and never really recovered. A good opening burst from Nehemiah Odhiambo (2-11) put Kenya in the ascendency and with Elijah Otieno (2-11) and Shem Ngoche (3-12) also in good form, Namibia found themselves quickly out of the game.

Sarel Burger made 30 in as many balls and JP Kotze smashed 27 in 15 balls but their efforts proved to be in vain as they were bowled out for 123 in 18.3 overs.

Papua New Guinea‘s bowlers set up their comprehensive seven-wicket win over Uganda. Charles and Christopher Amini took two wickets apiece Mahuru Dai one as Uganda were restricted to just 114 for five in their 20 overs.

They were 53 for five before Almuzahim Saleh added a touch of respectability to their score with 42 not out in 41 balls.

Assad Vala made 24 at the top of the order for PNG before former Ashes-winning wicket-keeper Geraint Jones showed his experience with 38 in 39 balls.

Nevertheless, at 93 for four, the game was briefly back in the balance before Charles Amini and Dai combined as effectively with the bat as they had with the ball to see PNG home – both men unbeaten on 17.

The next set of warm-up fixtures tomorrow are as follows:

Afghanistan v Uganda, Sharjah
Bermuda v Canada, Dubai
Hong Kong v Kenya, Abu Dhabi
Ireland v Papua New Guinea, Dubai
Italy v Netherland, Dubai
Namibia v Scotland, Abu Dhabi
Nepal v USA, Abu Dhabi
UAE v Denmark, Abu Dhabi

© Cricket World 2013

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Oct 302013
Condominium fees: what owners should know
By Kirthi Hewamanne
The complex documentation of a condominium project should be clearly understood by the purchaser.

First-time condo buyers are sometimes confused by the monthly maintenance fee that condo buildings charge. Combined with property taxes and your mortgage payments, they can add up to a hefty percentage of your total housing costs. But what is a condo maintenance fee and what does it cover? And how does it compare to the costs of owning a house?

Condo maintenance fees are your percentage share of the costs to run the building as a whole. Unlike rent, they are not a profit source for the management. In fact, each building is registered as a non-profit corporation in many countries.

Generally, these fees correspond to the individual utility bills you pay on a home, along with maintenance work such as window cleaning, housecleaning, gardening and so on. Fees are calculated according to the size of your unit – a two-bedroom’s fees are higher than a studio apartment’s or one bedroom. For instance, these fees are recalculated each year, up or down, according to the building’s annual operating budget.

A certain portion is also set aside as part of a ‘contingency fee’, which every condo must maintain by law. The contingency fund covers any special costs incurred as part of building upkeep, such as a new roof or repairs to heating or plumbing equipment.

The maintenance fees for townhouses within a complex are usually slightly lower. Often townhouses have their utilities separately metered, so these are not included in the fee but townhouse owners still pay a share for maintenance of common areas, security and other general costs.

Beyond these basics, there’s a wide variation in the features each individual condo building offers and the fees vary accordingly. One building might offer beefed-up security, concierge service and underground parking. Another might have a fully-equipped gym or pool with trainers and classes or you may have access to special perks such as a rooftop patio or guest suite. All of these are reflected in the monthly fee and in some cases are optional.

Five things you don’t know about condo fees
Condo fees can be contentious – here’s the real truth behind those monthly dues.

For many homebuyers, the issue of condo fees is as contentious as they come. In one camp are those who can’t see past paying money into an association that may or may not use that money effectively; in the other are those who find value in what condo life provides or are not yet ready to buy a house. Unfortunately, what both sides in the debate tend to have in common is misinformation about condominium fees and how they actually work. If you own a condo or are thinking about buying one, here are some things you might not know about the fees.

1) They aren’t all bad
Many homebuyers categorically refuse to consider a condo because of the fees alone. No fees are levied in a house, so condo fees are essentially a rip-off, right? Not so fast. What many people forget about owning any kind of home is that it entails a lot of financial responsibility. Roofs leak, foundations shift, washing machines overflow and the occasional tennis balls fly through the kitchen window while kids are playing outside. And whether you own a condo or a house of your own, you pay for all those unhappy little occurrences. The only difference is that in a condo, that financial responsibility is often shared with other owners.
In a condominium, the fees typically cover monthly expenses and utilities in the building but they’re also designed to collect money in advance to ensure that owners are held equally accountable for their investment. If you own your own home, you won’t be forced to set aside money each month just in case your home requires an expensive repair (although that’s a good idea) but you will be on the hook if something goes wrong. In addition, condo fees often go toward paying for things you’d have to spend out for as an owner of any property, such as insurance and sometimes even heat, water and cable TV.

2) Lower isn’t always better
No one wants high condo fees but finding the building with the lowest fees isn’t always the best bet either. Think of condo fees as a bit of a layaway plan for future improvements to the building, such as painting and necessary repairs. If there’s no money set aside, that work either won’t get done or owners will suffer a shake-down for additional funds in the form of a special assessment.

Before buying a condo you must have a robust discussion with your realtor who specializes in condominium sales but unfortunately there are no realtors who have such an in-depth knowledge of condos and their management systems.  Purchase of a condominium is not a transaction like buying a residential home. Owning a condominium will continue to be a long process. You have to work along with your co-owners to protect your condo investment as long as you own it.
And if you make an offer, make sure you put in a condition to review the condominium documents. This will ensure you get the information you need about the condo and whether there is a healthy reserve within the building.

Sometimes you will have a designated parking spot for your condo. If you do not own a vehicle, you must be able to rent it to another person as that parking space is included in the condominium fee that you have to pay.

In other words, if you want to know how expensive a building’s condo fees really are, you’ll have to find out everything you can about what they include and how much money the building needs for upkeep.

3) You may be paying for things you don’t use
Condo fees are a lot like taxes: sometimes you don’t personally benefit from the way the money is spent. That might explain why people tend to have such a strong reaction to condo fees but the reality is that this is just a necessary evil of any collective asset. If your building includes a pool, a gym or a patio, your fees will go toward maintaining those common areas, even if you never set foot in any of them.

The flipside, of course, is that if the building requires a major repair, you’ll get to split that bill with all the other owners. It also means that you might derive additional value from your fees at the time you are selling your condo. These extra facilities you find in your condo will definitely add a value to your investment even if you do not use the facilities.

4) They can go up at any time
Some countries such as Canada and the United States have strict laws to protect the condominium buyers and their investments.

According to the 2012 TD Canada Trust Condo Education survey, 68 percent of condo buyers had no idea that their fees could increase. Well, here’s news for you: condo fees can increase at any time and there’s virtually no limit as to how high they can go. That’s because it’s up to the condominium’s board of directors to ensure that enough money is being collected to pay for current expenses and save up for future repairs.

If something unexpected happens to the building or other common costs such as gas or electricity shoot up, condo fees might go up right along with them. Unfortunately, 38 percent of condo buyers also said that they weren’t confident that they could afford a fee increase.  

If you’re buying a condo or any other property, you should never be at the very limit of what you can afford. It’s way too risky and not just because of the condo fees but interest rates, utilities and taxes can also increase significantly.

Qualifying for a mortgage isn’t the same as feeling like you can actually afford home ownership. When qualifying for a mortgage, look at your numbers in terms of all the possible fees. You should build in an inflation rate on the condo fees to see what your budget would look like if those fees were to increase. You also want to discuss interest rates with your lender and what would happen if those were to increase down the road.

5) Condo fees are included in your mortgage calculation
The condo fee can be a significant portion of your mortgage. You have no control over the increases of the condominium fees. Some people may wonder it may be worth for them to buy a single family home, where you have full control over what repairs and improvements are made to the property when it’s exclusively your own.

Bottom line: You can still pay out of pocket
Just because you’re sharing a wall with a set of neighbours doesn’t mean you’re a renter. Owning a condo is just like owning any other home – you’re responsible for maintaining it. The major difference is that paying for repairs might be a lot more complicated.
For some people, the benefits of living in a condo far outweigh these inconveniences. Just be sure that you choose your condo carefully and assess what its fees really amount to. As with all things financial, condo fees aren’t just about what you pay, they’re also about what you get in return.

(Kirthi Hewamanne, a graduate of the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya and an award-winning realtor with wide experience in all aspects of real estate, is a condominium specialist with specialized knowledge of the condominium management concept. He held membership in the Canadian Real Estate Association, Ontario Real Estate Association, London-St. Thomas Real Estate Board, Ontario and Realtor Political Action Committee, Canada.
He can be contacted at  kirtionebiz@gmail.com)

Oct 142013
Canada shames Australia on CHOGM boycott

Zambia Protest against Sri Lanka GenocideCanada’s conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has put Australia to shame by confirming that his country will boycott next month’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka over human rights concerns.

Canada has criticised the Commonwealth for ‘accommodating evil’ by allowing Sri Lanka to host the event, while Tony Abbott has said simply that ‘different countries have different national priorities’.

After returning from a visit to Sri Lanka in August, UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay expressed grave concern about the lack of accountability, unresolved enforced disappearances, and decreasing fundamental freedoms.

This prompted Human Rights Watch to urge Commonwealth heads to boycott CHOGM, with Asia director Brad Adams declaring Sri Lanka’s government should be shunned — not rewarded — for failing to hold anyone accountable for war crimes during the country’s recent conflict. ‘Attending a summit in Sri Lanka so soon after the UN rights chief decried a worsening situation sends the wrong message to the government and to victims.’

Abbott made it clear that Australia has no intention of following the lead of his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper. ‘Look, I explained to him that I think the Commonwealth is important and that’s why I’ll be there. Obviously, Australia has some significant bilateral dealings with Sri Lanka over people smuggling as well.’

At least the Australian Government has come clean and admitted that it is conflicted. In saying we have ‘different national priorities’ to Canada, Abbott has conceded that securing and maintaining Sri Lanka’s cooperation in our efforts to ‘stop the boats’ trumps using the leverage we have at this moment to try to persuade Sri Lanka to respect the human rights of its citizens.

As long as Sri Lanka refuses to respond to the concerns expressed by Pillay, Australian Government claims that Sri Lanka is safe enough for the return of asylum seekers from Australia will look as ridiculous as those of Iraqi information minister ‘Comical Ali’ when the fall of Saddam Hussein was imminent.

That is the impression given by Peter Arndt of the Brisbane Catholic Archdiocesan Justice and Peace Commission, who has just returned from a visit to Sri Lanka as part of a group of 30 Catholic justice and peace workers from across Asia and the Pacific. He said: ‘It is outrageous that Mr Abbott is prepared to ignore the suffering and fear which is rife in the north of Sri Lanka in order to keep his commitment to stop the boats.’

Arndt suggested that the systematic way in which Tamil men are being arrested and detained indefinitely ‘looks suspiciously like ethnic cleansing’. ‘I wish Mr Abbott could meet with the women I met whose husbands and sons have been detained, tortured and, in some cases, killed over the last four years. I wish he could have heard the pain in their voices and seen their tears.’

Perversely it seems Australia’s vow to push ahead with CHOGM in Colombo is largely about mateship. The Commonwealth, Abbott says, is ‘amongst our oldest international associations’.

‘There is, I suppose, familiarity amongst members of the Commonwealth which doesn’t always exist in every other forum and I think it’s important that those friends we have, we should keep. You do not make new friends by rubbishing your old friends or abandoning your old friends.’

If mateship had prevailed during the apartheid era in South Africa, the apartheid regime might still be in place.

Michael MullinsMichael Mullins is editor of Eureka Street, where this piece originally appeared.

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