The spread of Condotels or Serviced Apartments

Fernwood Towers

Neighbours should blow whistle on ‘condotels’

LAST Saturday’s report, "Condo units turned hotels", highlights a trend that has possibly been prevalent for quite some time.

Over the years, several friends and colleagues have mentioned that neighbouring apartments were being unofficially run as "hotels" or "serviced residences". Some managers chose to look the other way when their attention was drawn to the matter.

A couple of years back, I witnessed this myself. An elderly couple rented the apartment next to mine.

The main and service doors of their apartment were open from early morning till about midnight, and a steady stream of strangers moved in and out with baggage in tow, at all hours of the day and night. I could hear loud conversations and the TV. Huge amounts of laundry were hung out on multiple racks placed in the common lobby.

When I highlighted the goings-on to the manager, he first chose to look the other way, saying the residents possibly had a large, extended family.

Later, after observing matters first-hand, he said he had advised the residents against the practices, but they did not listen to him.

Later, the manager pleaded helplessness and said he had referred the matter to his bosses. No discernible deterrent action was taken in the ensuing years.

Some time back, possibly with the onset of the economic downturn, the residents and their "guests" moved away.

For every "condotel" advertised, scores of others would be operating through inf ormal networks or "word of mouth" publicity.

Aside from observant neighbours, the authorities and the condo management have a major role to play in deterring such practices. But one wonders if they have the will, training or even the necessary "teeth" under the current laws to do so.

Raja Mitra

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