When condominiums first emerged in North American cities in the 1960s, they were a new kind of housing governed by boards of resident owners volunteering in a community. Condo Conquest shows how the condo and its inner governance have since become something else entirely, taken over – or conquered – by an assemblage of firms specializing in condo law, real estate, security, and property management, as well as growing numbers of non-resident investors who purchase condo units as commodities.
Drawing on the accounts of residents and board directors in Toronto and New York and myriad other sources, Randy Lippert takes a closer look at the inner workings of condoization. Condo governance is revealed to increasingly involve a complex set of legal, social, and spatial relationships among various elements assembled together, including commercial agents, forms of knowledge, and technologies, with some troubling consequences for resident owners, renters, and urban life. A growing reliance on commodified technologies and emergent forms of knowledge – including surveillance systems and detailed information about property values, aesthetics, crime and other risks, and legal decisions and statutes – also threaten the condo’s future and its promise of community.The first major study of condominium governance in North America, Condo Conquest questions assumptions about the condo and its governance and considers its future. By illuminating the complex set of agents, processes, and forms of knowledge that have taken over the condo world, Lippert discerns a number of troubling trends that are not only threatening the condo’s future but also eroding the power of municipal governments and undermining the integrity of urban communities.
This book will appeal to students and scholars of urban studies, socio-legal studies, planning, political science, architecture, and sociology.
Lippert's argument is based on extensive interviews with owners, condo corporation directors, property managers, realtors, and others in Toronto and New York. Lippert builds his case with a close reading of the documents that delineate condo living: statutes that seem to grow more elaborate with each legislative revision, as well as corporation bylaws, reserve fund studies, house-rules documents, and the shorthand legal opinions that flood into condos from the newsletters of lawyers representing boards, property managers, and builders.
Randy Lippert’s excellent study of how ‘condo life’ quickly became popular is a fabulous and timely contribution to urban studies. Condos are not just architectural forms – they are complex social and legal entities. It is urgent that those who live in them – as well as city officials, mayors, urban planners, and legal scholars – understand the new governance landscape in our cities, which has erupted as quickly as the glass towers have been built.
I have read just about every book on condominium housing and governance that has been published to date and this is by far the best work to come from a critical urban studies perspective.
Urbanites are increasingly regulated by condominium boards. Yet, until Randy Lippert’s instructive and compelling account, we knew very little about how condo governance actually works. This important book will be of interest to people who care about cities, how they work, and how they are ruled.
2 Condo Owners and Boards
3 Assembling the Condo: Processes, Agents, and Knowledges
4 Governing Condo Renters
5 Condo Governance, Legal Knowledges, and Surveillance
6 Policing Condo Nuisance
7 Ups and Downs of Urban Governance: High-Rise Condo Elevators
8 Conclusion: Law Reform, Assemblages, and Condo FuturesNotes; References; Index
Digital Lives in the Global City
Public Interest, Private Property
Law and Planning Policy in Canada
Receive the latest UBC Press news, including events, catalogues, and announcements.Subscribe to our newsletter now
Read past newsletters