Condominium Buyers Guide
Condominium living is a popular amongst many Canadians and is a relatively carefree housing option. Condo living can offer a homeowner with many desirable attributes, such as affordable housing, low maintenance requirements, and enhanced security features. This section has been created for your benefit and aims to keep you informed and help you make the best choice during your real estate experience.
What is a Condominium?
A ‘Condominium’ is a form of legal ownership.
There are a number of styles, including high-rise residential buildings, townhouse complexes, individual houses and low-rise residential buildings.
Condominiums consist of 2 parts:
- A collection of private dwellings called ‘units.’
- Each unit is owned by and registered in the name of the purchaser.
- Common Elements.
- These include hallways, elevators, recreational facilities, gardens, etc.
- The ownership of these common elements is shared amongst the unit owners; as is the cost for their operation and maintenance.
Each unit owner has an undivided interest in the common elements of the building. This interest is usually referred to as a ‘unit factor.’
- This ‘unit factor’ is generally calculated in proportion to the value that your unit has in relation to the total value of all the units in the Condo Corporation.
- It will tell you what your ownership percentage is in the common elements.
- This ‘unit factor’ is also used in calculating your monthly fees.
A condominium is created through the registration of a ‘declaration.’
The operation of condos is governed by provincial or territorial legislation and the condo corporation’s own declaration, by laws and rules.
Once a condo corporation has been established:
- A board of directors takes responsibility for managing the corporation’s business affairs. (These are individuals condo owners)
- Each unit owner has voting rights at meetings.
- Your voting rights will generally be in proportion to your ‘unit factor.’
What Types of Condominiums Are There?
There are many different types and styles of condominiums in the marketplace. It is really up to you to decide what you would enjoy best.
Residential condos can include high-rise or low-rise, town or row houses, duplexes, triplexes, single-detached houses, and stacked townhouses.
What Do I Own When I Buy A Condominium?
When you purchase a condominium, you own your unit, as well as a percentage of the common elements allocated to your unit.
You should keep in mind that the boundaries of each individual unit and the percentage of common elements you own may vary depending on how they are specified in the condominium’s documents.
The boundaries of your condo unit are an important consideration at the time of your purchase, particularly if renovations are on your priority list.
Your unit typically includes and equipment and finishes that are contained in your individual unit.
The right to use one or more parking spots and/or storage areas may be included, however, you seldom actually own the space itself.
What Rules and Regulations Might I Encounter In A Condo?
Each condominium is governed by its own unique rules, regulations and bylaws. Depending on the condominium corporation, these can be very strict or relaxed.
These are necessary to ensure condos are properly operated, maintained and offer a level of professionalism, while defining the rights and obligations of the individual owners.
Some condos have rules regarding the alteration of the unit space or its appearance. For example, the condo corporation may require that all exterior doors of each unit be the same colour.
In other circumstances, you may have to get permission from the board of directors before you make any adjustments or modifications to your unit. This is to assure that the interior layout remains consistent throughout the complex.
While the rules and regulations of condominiums may initially seem strict, they help to ensure that they are safe and enjoyable communities to live in for everybody.
Who Takes Care of the Building and Grounds?
Most condo corporations hire a property management company to take care of the day-to-day operations. The cleaning of common areas, payment of common area utility bills, operation and maintenance of the heating and air-conditioning systems, snow and garbage removal, and any improvements to the building may fall under the property manager’s responsibility.
For any major expenditure or expenditure that is not accounted for in the annual budget, the property management company would have to get approval from the board of directors.
It is important when considering a purchase of a condo to ensure that you are comfortable with the management style. This can affect your condo experience, the feed and any obligations you may have towards the upkeep of the building.
Can I Rent My Condominium?
While most condo corporations allow owners to rent their units to a third party, it is important for you to confirm this through the condominium’s governing documents.
Questions To Ask When Considering A Condominium:
- What are the unit boundaries?
- Is the Reserve Fund adequately funded and
- What will my maintenance obligations be?
- What management style is being used, and am I comfortable with it?
- What are the rules regarding:
- Number of visitors
- Can I alter my unit’s appearance?
- If so, what procedure do I follow to obtain permission.
We would be glad to assist you with any of your condominium questions or inquiries.
Please contact one of our agents today!