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Mortgage Canada CMHC Condominium Buyers Guide

 

CONDOMINIUM BUYER'S GUIDE
CLICK HERE TO APPLY FOR A SECOND MORTGAGE, EQUITY LOAN OR REFINANCE
Condominium living is popular for many Canadians because it can be a relatively carefree housing option. This Guide has been created to help you become an informed condominium buyer and help you make the best choice. Topics include: condominium types, rules and regulations, a condition checklist, a glossary of terms, information sources and a condominium selection checklist. (© 2002 CMHC, Revised 2014)

CMHC -- HOME TO CANADIANS

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has
been Canada's national housing agency for more than 65 years.

Together with other housing stakeholders, we help ensure
that the Canadian housing system remains one of the best
in the world. We are committed to helping Canadians access
a wide choice of quality, environmentally sustainable and
affordable housing solutions that will continue to create
vibrant and healthy communities and cities across the country.

For more information, visit our website at www.cmhc.ca or
follow us on Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

You can also reach us by phone at 1-800-668-2642 or by fax
at 1-800-245-9274.

Outside Canada call 613-748-2003 or fax to 613-748-2016.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation supports the
Government of Canada policy on access to information
for people with disabilities. If you wish to obtain this
publication in alternative formats, call 1-800-668-2642.

CONDOMINIUM BUYER'S GUIDE




    CMHC offers a wide range of housing-related information.
                 Visit our website at www.cmhc.ca

   Cette publication est aussi disponible en français sous le titre :
   Logements en copropriété -- Guide de l'acheteur (OPIMS: 63101)

Disclaimer

This guide is provided for general information purposes only. Any reliance or action taken based on the information
provided is the responsibility of the user. Readers are advised to consult appropriate professional resources to determine
what is suitable in their particular case. CMHC assumes no responsibility for any consequences arising from use of the
information provided in this guide.


This research project was funded by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The contents, views and
editorial quality of this report are the responsibility of the author(s) and CMHC accepts no responsibility for them or
any consequences arising from the reader's use of the information, materials and techniques described herein.




National Library of Canada cataloguing in publication data

Main entry under title: Condominium Buyer's Guide

Issued also in French under title: Logements en copropriété -- Guide de l'acheteur

ISBN 0-662-33517-1
Cat. no. NH15-407/2003E

1.        Condominiums--Purchasing--Canada.
2.        House buying--Canada.
I.        Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

HD7287.67C3C66 2003             643'.2       C2003-980058-X




© Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2002.
Revised 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013

This document, or any discrete portion of this document (such as a chapter or section) may be reproduced for
redistribution, without obtaining the permission of the copyright owner, provided that no changes whatsoever
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any product or service. For any use of this document other than reproduction or for the general reference purposes as
set out above, please contact: the Canadian Housing Information Centre (CHIC) at chic@cmhc.ca; 613-748-2367 or
1-800-668-2642. For permission, please provide CHIC with the following information: Publication's name, year and
date of issue.

Produced by CMHC

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction .           . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii
  So you're thinking about buying a condominium? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii

1 -- Condominium basics .                                   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1
  What is a condominium? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              1
  A unique form of ownership. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .               2
  Your role in a condominium community . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        3
  Condominiums across Canada . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                  3

2 -- Condominium governance.                                             . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
  Who makes up the board of directors? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                    5
  How are voting rights determined?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                  5
  Must I attend meetings and/or serve on committees? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                            5
  Am I bound by decisions if I didn't attend meetings or vote?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                               6
  What's the difference between condominium bylaws and rules? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                                   6
  Property management firms versus self-managed condominiums . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                                      7

3 -- The pros and cons of condominium ownership.                                                                             . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
  Evaluation checklist: Is condominium ownership right for me? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

4 -- Buying a condominium                                       . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

  Buying a new condominium. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
  Buying a resale condominium. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
  The pros and cons of new versus resale. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
  Affordability -- How much will it cost?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

5 -- Checklists, tips, and FAQs .                                         . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
  Tips for buying a new condominium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
  Tips for buying a resale condominium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
  Checklist for buying a new condominium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
  Checklist for buying a resale condominium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
  Condominium purchase and recurring costs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
  Physical evaluation checklist (for resale units). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
  Questions to ask advisors and condominium experts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
  Frequently asked questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

Glossary     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31




                                                                                                                                                                            i

INTRODUCTION

So you're thinking about                            Chapter 5: Worksheets, checklists, tips and
buying a condominium?                                questions and answers
                                                     Stay on track with these handy tools that
Condominium living is a popular choice for           will help you find a condominium that is
many Canadians as it can be a relatively carefree    right for you.
housing option. About one million Canadian
                                                  
households own a condominium (often referred         Glossary

to as a "condo"). Most major newspapers              Demystify condominium terminology

now include a condominium section, which             with this list of commonly used words

recognizes the increasing number of people           and phrases.

who already live in -- or want to live in -- a      General information about buying a home is
condominium.                                      available in CMHC's Homebuying Step by Step:

This Guide will give you the basic background     A Consumer's Guide and Worksheets.

information you need to figure out if             If you are buying a condo in order to rent
condominium ownership is really for you.          it out, also consult CMHC's Your Guide to
It will identify key questions to ask -- and       Renting a Home.
the people you should be asking -- before you
make this important purchase.                     If you require condominium information
                                                  related to a specific Province or Territory,
In this Guide you will find:                      please find Provincial and Territorial
                                                  fact sheets on-line at www.cmhc.ca.
  Chapter 1: Condominium basics
   Learn how condominium ownership differs        This Guide gives a general overview of what's
   from other forms of homeownership.             involved in buying a condominium and is not
                                                  intended to provide legal or technical advice.
  Chapter 2: Condominium governance              It is strongly recommended that you retain legal
   Read about how condominium corporations        and technical professionals to assist you with
   are run and rules that govern day-to-day       any condominium purchase.
   condominium living.

  Chapter 3: The pros and cons of
   condominium ownership
   Find out if condominium ownership fits
   with your lifestyle, financial situation and
   personality.

  Chapter 4: Buying a condominium
   Know what to look for whether you're
   buying a new or a resale condominium as
   well as the costs you need to factor into
   your budget.




                                                                                                 iii

1 -- CONDOMINIUM BASICS

Condominium living can be an appealing          There are even mixed-use condominiums that
housing option. It's often affordable and       are partly residential and partly commercial
someone else handles much of the maintenance    buildings. Condominiums come in various sizes
and repairs, such as shovelling snow and        with diverse features and can be found
replacing the roof. Many condominiums           in almost every price range.
have enhanced security features over those
found in single-family houses and offer a       Condominium buyers have three choices.

wide range of social, entertainment and         They can buy a new condo, a resale condo

recreational activities.                        or a conversion condo.

However, purchasers should be aware --           "New condominiums" refer to units that have

before they buy -- of the many issues and        not been previously occupied. They can be

considerations surrounding the purchase         in the planning stage, under construction or

of, and the lifestyle in, a condominium.        recently completed and are usually purchased

Condominium ownership is very different         from a developer. For many buyers, they're

from owning a home under traditional fee        an attractive option because of their fresh

simple tenure. This section of the Guide will   appearance and modern fittings, surfaces and

help you better understand this unique form     appliances. They also often give purchasers the

of ownership and prepare you for successful     chance to customize their units.

condominium living.                             "Resale condominiums" are units that have
                                                already been occupied, typically in older
What is a condominium?                          buildings, and are for sale by the current
                                                owner. One of the advantages of purchasing an
A "condominium" refers to a form of             existing condominium is that you get to see the
legal ownership, as opposed to a style of       unit, building and grounds before you make
construction. Condominiums are most often       your purchase. You also have the opportunity
thought of as units in high-rise residential    to meet other unit owners, speak with a
buildings, but they can instead be:             representative of the board of directors of the
                                               condominium corporation and ask questions
   low-rise residential buildings (fewer than
   four storeys);                               of the property manager.

                                               "Conversion condominiums" refer to units in a
   townhouse or rowhouse complexes;
                                                building that was previously used for something
                                                else but has been, or is to be, renovated for
  stacked townhouses;
                                                residential use. For example, many loft-style
  duplexes (one unit over another) or a side-
                                                condominiums are converted from former
   by-side;
                                                commercial or industrial buildings. Conversions
  triplexes (stack of three units);            can also refer to the switching of units from
                                                rental units to condominium units.
  single-detached houses; or

  vacant land upon which owners may build.




                                                                                                1

Condominium Buyer's Guide



A unique form of ownership                       What will you pay?

Owning a condominium differs from                 In addition to paying for your unit and a
owning a conventional home in several             proportionate share of the common property,
ways. Key differences include:                    you also pay monthly condominium fees,
                                                  along with all of the other unit owners.
What do you own?                                  This covers the upkeep and replacement of
                                                  common elements -- whether you use them or
When you purchase a condominium, you own          not. The fees may also cover the corporation's
a private dwelling called a "unit." Your unit     insurance policies, utilities and services such as
is registered in your name. You also share        snow removal.
ownership of the common elements and assets
of the building and community.                    Part of those monthly fees may be put into
                                                  a reserve fund to cover the estimated cost of
It's important to be clear where your unit's      future maintenance and repairs.
boundaries are located before you purchase.
You'll want to know, for instance, whether        Required by law in some provinces and
you'll be paying for window washing or repairs    territories, a reserve fund study is often used
to your townhouse's bricks or whether the         to tell condo owners how much money should
condominium corporation will be responsible       be paid into the reserve fund. Conducted by
for this. You can find information about your     an engineer or other professional, it involves
unit's boundaries in your condominium's           a detailed examination of all components, an
governing documents.                              analysis of when repair and replacement are
                                                  expected, and an estimate of these costs.
Some condominium units (called freehold
condominiums) include ownership of the land       Condominium fees may have to be adjusted
your home is on. If this is the case, your unit   from time to time to reflect the changing
may be the entire house including the exterior    costs of goods and services and the state of
walls, the roof and the lawn. You may want to     the building's reserve fund. Look for these
carefully review the condominium corporation's    adjustments in the next year's budget.
site plan, prepared by a professional surveyor,
                                                  Don't expect a refund if the board overestimates
so you know exactly where your unit's
                                                  the common expenses. Refunds are not
boundaries lie.
                                                  commonly given to unit owners. Instead,
Common elements may include lobbies,              surpluses are typically either applied to
hallways, elevators, recreational facilities,     future common expenses or paid into the
walkways, gardens and other amenities.            reserve fund.
They may also include structural elements
                                                  If a unit owner sells a unit before the end of
and mechanical and electrical services.
                                                  the condominium corporation's fiscal year,
Some common elements may be outside the           the owner cannot obtain a refund for any
unit boundaries, but are for the sole use of the  prepaid common expenses but should provide
owner of a particular unit. Balconies, parking    for adjustments for prepaid expenses in the
spaces, storage lockers, driveways and lawns are  purchase or sale agreement.
common examples.


2

                                                                              Condominium Buyer's Guide




                                                      The board of directors takes responsibility for
  Did you know?                                       the management of the corporation's business
  Even though condominium owners often pay            affairs. The board is generally made up of
  the same municipal taxes as other homeowners,       individual condominium owners.
  they don't always receive services covered by
  those taxes, such as garbage pickup, road           As an owner, it's your responsibility
  repairs and snow removal. This is because           to participate in the governing of the
  condominiums may be considered (by the              condominium. You can do this by attending
  municipality) to be private communities, some       general meetings and information sessions,
  with limited access. Before you buy, ask what       serving on the board of directors or on a
  municipal services the condominium corporation      committee and voting. It's also important
  receives and what other services are carried out    to read the minutes of meetings and other
  by independent contractors -- and reflected in       information sent to members, such as the
  your condo fees.
                                                      condo newsletter, as well as the corporation's
  What can you do?                                    budget and financial statements.
  Three of the most common causes of annoyance
  to condominium owners are pets, people and          You are now part of a community with
  parking -- the "three Ps." That's why condos         shared responsibilities. If the parking garage
  have rules and restrictions around them and         in your development unexpectedly starts to
  other issues, such as noise and the number of       crumble and there aren't enough funds on
  people who may live in a unit. It's essential that  hand to repair it, you -- along with all of
  you review the condo's rules, bylaws and            the other owners -- must pay the increased
  declaration before you make an offer.               condominium fees or a lump-sum payment
  Buyer beware!                                       to cover its repair.
  Before buying, find out what common property
  elements are for your use only and what            Condominiums across Canada
  restrictions apply. For instance, restrictions
  may prevent you from parking a boat, RV or          Condominiums across the country have many
  commercial vehicle in your parking spot or there    similarities and are generally run along the same
  may be restrictions on what you may place on        principles. For example, condos in all provinces
  your balcony.                                       and territories are corporations whose units are
                                                      privately owned and whose common elements,
Your role in a                                        such as elevators and hallways, are owned by all
                                                      of the condo members.
condominium community
                                                      But there are a number of differences.
When you become a condominium owner,                  In British Columbia, for instance, the legal
you become a member of a condominium                  term for condominium corporation is "strata
corporation and have certain rights and               corporation;" in Quebec, it is "syndicate" or
responsibilities. One of your key rights is           "syndicate of co-owners." In some jurisdictions,
the right to vote at general meetings on matters      a purchaser can ask the condominium
that affect the condominium. You are also             corporation for vital information about a
eligible to help elect the board of directors.        particular unit and the corporation as a whole,



                                                                                                      3

Condominium Buyer's Guide




such as whether the current owner (in the
case of a resale unit) has defaulted in paying       Did you know?

his or her common expenses and if there               Condominium corporations are legal entities.
are any outstanding lawsuits against the              You and all of the other owners can be sued
corporation; depending on the jurisdiction,           for matters for which you're collectively liable.
this is called either a "status certificate" or an    Likewise, you and all of the other owners
"estoppel certificate."                               have the right to sue for damages to the
                                                      common property.
It's not only condominium terminology that
varies from place to place. Some jurisdictions
have detailed rules addressing condominium
reserve funds, which cover the costs of major
repairs and replacement of the common
property over time; in other jurisdictions,
reserve funds are not mandatory.




4

2 -- CONDOMINIUM GOVERNANCE

Condominiums are communities and some run           Your voting rights will be determined by:
more smoothly than others. Before buying a
unit, ensure you understand how condominium           the condominium legislation in your

corporations make decisions about finances,            province or territory; and/or

common property, rules and regulations.
                                                      your condominium's governing documents

This section outlines the role of the board of         (such as its declaration and/or bylaws); and

directors, your voting rights and responsibilities,
                                                      your financial standing with the
common rules and restrictions as well as               condominium corporation. If you're in
the differences between "self-managed"                 arrears with your contributions, you risk
condominiums and those that hire property              losing your voting rights.
management firms to handle their daily
operations.                                         Some condominiums assign one vote per unit.
                                                    Others weight the vote based on ownership of
Who makes up the board                              the common elements. This ownership interest

of directors?                                       is often called a "unit factor," "proportionate
                                                    share" or "percentage of ownership."
The board of directors (or "council" in B.C.)       The unit factor for any particular unit will
is generally elected by, and made up of,            generally be calculated in proportion to the
individual condominium owners. Their                unit's value in relation to the total value of all
number, qualifications, election, term in           of the units in the condominium corporation.
office, pay (if any), removal from the board        For example, a tenth-floor, three-bedroom
and other related matters are outlined in           corner suite with a rooftop garden will typically
provincial or territorial legislation and/or the    have a greater unit factor than a two-bedroom
condominium bylaws.                                 basement unit.
The board of directors meets regularly to           Your unit factor is also used in calculating the
handle the business affairs of the condominium      monthly fees you must pay toward the upkeep
corporation, including policy and finances,         and renewal of the common elements.
and makes decisions about the upkeep and
repair of the common property.                     Must I attend meetings and/
How are voting rights                              or serve on committees?
determined?                                         You may have to, depending on what your
                                                    condominium's rules or other governing
The board of directors makes many decisions         documents require. Whether it's compulsory or
for the condominium but certain decisions           not, you have a responsibility to yourself and
must be made by unit owners. Each unit              to other owners to become involved in your
owner has voting rights at meetings.                condominium community.




                                                                                                      5

Condominium Buyer's Guide




Meetings are a forum for owners to discuss the
running of the condominium and to vote on          Did you know?

changes to the common property, bylaws and         If you can't attend an owners' meeting, you may
other matters. For a vote to take place, there     have the right to send someone in your place.
must often be a minimum percentage of owners       This person is called a "proxy." When owners
present (called a "quorum"), so everyone has a     will be voting on important matters, such as
responsibility to attend.                          changing a bylaw or electing a new director to
                                                   the board, you can send your vote via a proxy.
Am I bound by decisions                            Typically you would need to appoint your proxy
                                                   in a signed document.
if I didn't attend meetings
or vote?                                         attractive place to live. Rules also spell out
Yes. Your board of directors holds regular       what your rights and obligations are as an
meetings and has the right to make certain       individual owner.
decisions that affect the corporation at those   Rules frequently cover:
meetings, whether or not you are present.
                                                   the maximum number of occupants per unit;
Decisions that require the approval of unit
owners are made at annual general meetings         pets;
or special meetings. You should be notified
about these meetings well in advance and plan      noise;

to attend or appoint a proxy. If you don't cast
                                                   parking;
your vote and a motion passes, you are bound
by that decision.                                  when you may use certain amenities,
                                                    such as the pool or exercise room; and
What's the difference
                                                   the appearance and/or alteration of the
between condominium                                 unit space.
bylaws and rules?                                Carefully review and consider all rules

A condominium's bylaws govern how                and obligations prior to purchasing a unit.

the condominium corporation is run.              You can get a copy of the rules from the seller,

They often address matters such as the           the property manager or the board of directors.

election and practices of the board of           Make sure your copy is up to date.

directors, the collection of common expense      Provincial and territorial condominium
contributions and how rules are passed.          legislation sets out what matters can be

Rules focus on day-to-day concerns of            covered by bylaws, and sometimes rules.

condominium living and vary from condo           All bylaws must be consistent with both this

to condo. They may be very strict or very        legislation and the condominium corporation's

relaxed depending on the nature of the           declaration. Rules should not deal with matters

corporation, but they help ensure that           covered by bylaws otherwise they could be

the condominium is a safe, pleasant and          struck down if challenged.



6

                                                                             Condominium Buyer's Guide




                                                     Self-management can save money as
  Tip:                                              well as give owners a greater sense of
  Before you buy, ask current residents if          control and community. But it has several
  they've experienced problems with noise, pets,    challenges including:
  parking, smoke or odours from other units and
  how they were handled. This is particularly         finding volunteers who have knowledge
  important if you're moving from a single-family      of building maintenance, budgeting,
  home to a multi-unit condominium.                    insurance and legal issues and who can
                                                       devote enough time to the condominium's
                                                       day-to-day business;
Condominium legislation in some jurisdictions
doesn't differentiate between bylaws and rules.       lack of continuity (due to volunteer
                                                       turnover); and
Property management
                                                      a weak system of checks and balances.
firms versus self-managed
                                                    When considering the purchase of a particular
condominiums                                        condominium, ensure that you are comfortable
                                                    with its management, whether the condo
Most condominium corporations hire a
                                                    contracts out this responsibility or takes it
property management company to handle
                                                    upon itself. There may be implications for
their day-to-day operations, under the
                                                    both your condo fees and any obligations
leadership of their boards of directors.
                                                    you may have toward the building's operation
These tasks often include:
                                                    and maintenance.
  collection of monthly fees and any
   special fees;                                      Caution!

  cleaning and maintenance of common areas;          Self-managed condominiums can work well,
                                                      but it's important to have strong support from a
  payment of common area utility bills;
                                                      lawyer and an accountant who are experienced

  operation and maintenance of heating,              in condominium operations
   air-conditioning and other building
   systems; and

  snow and garbage removal.

Other condominiums are "self-managed."
Their boards of directors -- and in some cases,
volunteers who are residents or owners -- carry
out the day-to-day operational tasks.




                                                                                                       7

3 -- THE PROS AND CONS OF
            CONDOMINIUM OWNERSHIP

Wondering whether or not condominium living really is the right choice for you? You may love the
idea of ditching your snow shovel and lawn mower when you move into a condo, but you might
not be so happy about leaving your satellite dish behind to comply with a bylaw.

Like most types of accommodation, condominiums have their advantages and disadvantages.
Carefully consider all of these pros and cons when deciding whether or not a condo fits with your
lifestyle, personality and financial situation.


             Pros of Condominium Ownership                  Cons of Condominium Ownership

       Fewer maintenance and repair responsibilities.  You may not be able to decide when
                                                       maintenance and repairs get done.

       Access to on-site amenities, such as a sauna or You may have to pay for amenities that you
       swimming pool, which you otherwise might        might never or rarely use.
       not be able to afford.

       Enhanced security features in some              Less privacy in some condominium units and
       condominium units. You'll also have peace of    possibly more noise.
       mind while you're on vacation knowing that
       your neighbours are close by.

       Monthly maintenance or condo fees are           Possibility of special assessment charges for
       usually predictable.                            unexpected repairs.

       You have a say in the running of the            Like most communities, a condominium
       condominium corporation. As an owner,           attracts individuals with a variety of
       you have voting rights and can be elected       personalities. It can sometimes be a challenge
       to the board of directors.                      to reach a consensus.

       A community that may have a wide range          Less space in some condominium units.
       of social, entertainment and recreational
       activities sometimes geared to a specific
       lifestyle (seniors, for example).

                                                       Possible restrictions on things like noise
                                                       levels, parking, pets, smoking and even the
                                                       style and colour of things like doors and
                                                       window coverings.




                                                                                                       9

Condominium Buyer's Guide



Evaluation checklist:                          Also, for condominium apartment units
Is condominium ownership                           I'm an empty nester or single and would
right for me?                                       be satisfied with the space provided in a
                                                    condominium apartment.
If you answer "yes" to most of the following,
                                                    I'm reassured by the building's security
then buying a condo may be a smart move         
                                                    measures, such as entry buzzers and video
for you.
                                                    surveillance cameras.
    I like the fact that a condominium is
     an "instant community" and my
     neighbours won't be far away.

    I want to participate in the running
     of the community with other
     condominium owners.

    I don't want the hassle of shovelling
     snow, cutting grass and other
     outdoor chores.

    I'll use some of the condominium's
     amenities.

    I understand that I will pay monthly
     fees for maintenance and repair
     of the condominium and will
     budget accordingly.

    I know there may be restrictions on
     the number of occupants in my unit,
     pets, noise, parking, etc.

    I'll read through the condominium's
     documents before I buy so there'll be
     no surprises.

    I understand that a board of directors
     can make decisions on my behalf.




10

4 -- BUYING A CONDOMINIUM

Looking at potential homes to buy can be an         For more information on what to look for
exciting experience. First, you need to figure      when buying a new unit, see Tips for buying
out what you can afford and how much of a           a new condominium (Chapter 5).
mortgage you'll need. Then, once you find a
condominium that matches your financial and
personal criteria, you'll want to ensure that it's    Buyer beware!
well managed and in good physical, financial
                                                      When you buy a new condominium, be prepared
and legal condition.                                  to pay occupancy fees -- sometimes called
There are significant distinctions between            "phantom rent" -- to the developer. Occupancy

buying a new condominium and a previously             fees cover the period between the time you take
                                                      occupancy of your unit and the time you take
owned, or resale, unit. This section highlights
                                                      ownership of it (once the unit is registered).
what you need to look for, whichever route
you choose. It will also tell you how buying a
condominium differs from purchasing a "fee         Buying a resale condominium
simple" home and help you determine what
you can afford and which experts to consult.        When you purchase a resale unit you have
                                                    the advantage of seeing what you're buying.
Buying a new condominium                            It's clear how much space you'll have, what the
                                                    layout is like and where the common elements
Developers often put new condominiums               are. But you'll also want to find out about less
up for sale before their construction has
                                                    obvious aspects, such as what steps have been
been completed or even begun. You may
                                                    taken to limit noise between units and how
be selecting your unit from a floor plan.
                                                    odours are controlled.
This has advantages -- you may be able to
ask for changes -- and risks -- the as-built          On the financial and legal side, you should
result may differ from the plan or what you         review the corporation's annual operating
had envisioned and the completion date could        budget, financial statements and estoppel
be later than promised.                             or status certificate. The estoppel or status
When considering a new condominium,                 certificate is a package of legal documents that
you should have a close look at your unit's         may include the declaration, bylaws, rules and
specifications and the building's plan and other    information about the corporation's insurance,
governing documents to ensure that your unit        reserve fund, property management contract
is acceptable and that you're fully aware of        and any outstanding judgments. You may have
regulations and the corporation's budget.           to pay a fee to cover the corporation's costs
                                                    of providing these documents, but it will be
You'll want to find out from the developer what     well worth it -- so much so that you should
work must still be done on the project and          make any offer to purchase conditional on a
check that your purchase agreement specifies        satisfactory review of these documents.
a completion date and under what conditions
the developer may change it. The developer          For more information on what to look for
should also be able to give you details about       when buying a resale unit, see Tips for buying
the property manager who will hold the key          a resale condominium (Chapter 5).
responsibility for the day-to-day running of
the condominium.

                                                                                                      11

Condominium Buyer's Guide



The pros and cons of new                           Some pros of buying a resale condominium:
versus resale                                       You get what you see.

When deciding whether to purchase a new or          There are no lengthy waiting periods before
resale condominium, you'll want to consider          you can move in unless provided for in the
the advantages and disadvantages of both.            condition of sale.

                                                   
Some pros of buying a new condominium:               Deposits are often much lower for
                                                     resale purchases and typically there is
  A lower purchase price (depending upon            no GST/HST. In some exceptional
   market conditions).                               situations the GST or federal portion
                                                     of the HST applies.
  A greater choice of locations within the
   building (if applicable).
                                                    You can check out the condominium
                                                     "community" in advance to see if the
  A broader range of options and/or upgrades.
                                                     corporation is well run and the people
  Less risk of having to undergo costly,            who live in it are compatible with your
   noisy and intrusive repairs and renovations.      needs and lifestyle.

  New home warranty protection.                    Older condominiums sometimes have
                                                     larger units.
Some cons of buying a new condominium:
                                                   Some cons of buying a resale condominium:
  If construction has not been completed,
   you cannot "see" what you are buying             Fewer options with regard to choice of unit
   and must rely on artist sketches and floor        (within the building), decorating or upgrades.
   plans (which may change). Be sure to have
   the unit's boundaries, location, finishes,       Older resale condominiums may require

   materials, chattels, etc. clearly specified in    more maintenance and repair than new ones.

   the purchase agreement.
                                                    The amenities that you may find desirable
                                                     (for example, a workout room, whirlpool,
  Your initial deposit will be tied up for the
   duration of construction.                         security features) may not be available.

                                                    Older resale units may not be as
  Financial institutions may not give you a
   mortgage on an unregistered condominium.          energy-efficient as newer units.

                                                    Major repairs may be coming due that will
  Construction of your unit may not be
   completed by the expected date.                   require extra charges to the unit owners if
                                                     the reserve fund is underfunded.
  You may move into your unit while
   construction continues in others, which can      You will receive only the portion of the new

   be noisy and disruptive.                          home warranty that has not yet expired.




12

                                                                            Condominium Buyer's Guide



Affordability -- How much                          Mortgage
will it cost?                                      Consider the type of mortgage, rate of interest
                                                   and term. Consult with your financial advisor
It's important to know how much money              or bank loans officer to decide what works for
you should set aside to purchase -- and live        you, and what would be your financial position
in -- the condominium you are considering.          if mortgage rates were to rise. Be sure to factor
Additionally, when you are shopping around         in the costs of mortgage loan insurance if
and comparing different condominiums,              applicable (required if the down payment is
it's important to compare the purchase             less than 20 per cent of the unit's purchase
prices and monthly fees for each unit.             price). Life insurance may also be desirable

Ensure you can afford your mortgage and your       but ensure that the costs are also factored into
                                                   your monthly budget. The more frequent your
new monthly expenses. Your bank, mortgage
                                                   payments, such as every two weeks instead
broker or financial advisor can help you tailor
                                                   of monthly, and the shorter the amortization
your mortgage to suit your financial goals and
                                                   period, the less interest you pay over the course
needs. CMHC's online guide Homebuying              of your mortgage.
Step by Step can also help you to determine
what you can afford.                              Fees
There are many different types of mortgages,       As a condominium owner, you will pay a
including conventional, high ratio and second      monthly fee that is your share of the operation
mortgages. Take the time to discuss your           and maintenance of the common property
current financial position and future goals        elements. A portion of this fee will typically
with your financial advisor and be sure that       be set aside for the corporation's reserve fund,
you are comfortable with your purchase.            which covers the costs of major repairs and
                                                   replacement of the common property elements
Know what you can afford                           over time. You will need to know exactly

If you are presently renting and are looking       what is and isn't included in the fees for any
                                                   condominium you consider, and how much
at purchasing for the first time, here are some
                                                   you can expect to pay.
important points to consider when assessing
what is affordable for you. Canada Mortgage
                                                   Property tax
and Housing Corporation can help you to
determine what you can afford with an online       When you rent a place to live, the property
calculator available free of charge at CMHC's      tax is usually a part of your rent. When you
online guide Homebuying Step by Step ­ Step 2:     own a condominium, you are responsible for
Are you financially ready?                         paying your own property taxes. For a new
                                                   condominium, the municipality in which
Down payment                                       your condominium is located should be able
                                                   to tell you how much you can expect to pay.
The more of the purchase price you can afford      For existing condominiums, this information
to pay initially, the less interest you will pay   can be provided by the real estate agent or
over the course of your mortgage.                  the vendor. Ask for a copy of the most recent
                                                   property assessment and tax bill.



                                                                                                   13

Condominium Buyer's Guide



Utilities                                       for maintaining. For more information on unit
                                                boundaries, see Where are my unit's boundaries?
These may or may not be included in your
                                                (Chapter 5).
monthly condominium fee. You will want to
know what you can expect to pay for utilities   Unit factor
such as natural gas, water and electricity.
                                                Your unit factor (sometimes called
See the Condominium purchase and                "proportionate share" or "percentage of
recurring costs (Chapter 5) to help you         ownership") tells you what percentage of
with your budgeting.                            the condominium's common property you
                                                own. It's a key piece of information because
Special considerations                          it determines how much you will pay in
                                                monthly maintenance fees and sometimes
You'll want to be crystal clear about the       your voting rights.
following when making an offer on a
condo unit:                                     You'll find your unit factor listed in the
                                                condominium's declaration (or other governing
Declaration                                     documents, depending on where you live).
A condominium's declaration sets forth          Don't expect it to be equal to your neighbour's,

fundamental information about how the           but it should at least be similar to those of other

condominium is organized and operated,          units that are comparable in size and location.

such as the proportion in which owners are      Your unit factor is usually based on the size
to contribute to the common expenses, and       and location of your unit. Before you buy,
it may have restrictions on pets, home-based    verify what your unit factor will be with your
businesses, what can go on a balcony and        lawyer. For more information on unit factors,
many other issues. (Some provinces don't        see How are my voting rights determined?
use the term "declaration;" instead this        (Chapter 2).
"constituting" document is included as
part of the condominium "plan.")                Reserve fund

A declaration can be difficult to change so     A portion of your condo fees will likely go
you'll want to read it over very carefully to   toward the building's reserve fund. (Your
ensure that it does not contain unacceptable    province or territory may have another name
terms or restrictions.                          for this, such as contingency fund or capital
                                                replacement reserve fund.) A reserve fund
Unit boundary                                   ensures that the condominium has enough
                                                money to pay for the major repair and
Find out exactly where your unit ends and
                                                replacement of the common elements over
the common property begins. Is the door to
                                                the life of the building. These may include
your home part of your unit, for example, or is the roof, roads, sewers, sidewalks, elevators,
it part of the common elements? You should      plumbing and other building systems. For more
have a good look at the condominium's plan so   information on reserve funds, see Is there enough
you know precisely what you'll be responsible    money in the reserve fund? (Chapter 5).




14

                                                                              Condominium Buyer's Guide




                                                     specifications. If you're buying a new
  Did you know?                                      condominium, find out what is and is not
  Any costs over and above the basic unit purchase   covered by the warranty. If you're purchasing
  price should be clearly outlined in the agreement  a resale condominium, find out what warranty
  of purchase and sale. You should budget for        coverage remains on the unit, if any. For more
  these charges when you are considering buying.     information on home warranties, see How do
  New home warranties may protect the deposit        new home warranties work? (Chapter 5).
  you place on your new condominium, up to
  a maximum amount, in case the developer            Insurance
  cannot, or will not, complete your unit through    There are special considerations when
  no fault of your own. Check with your provincial
  or territorial government to find out more about   insuring a condo as opposed to other forms
  warranty programs as coverage varies across the    of housing tenure. You'll want to check that
  country. See also the Homebuying Step by           your individual unit and the condominium
  Step guide.                                        corporation as a whole are sufficiently insured.
                                                     For more information on insurance, see What
  A developer may own units (model suites, for
  example) that have a disproportionately low        property or general insurance coverage should I look
  unit factor. This is uncommon but it can happen    for? (Chapter 5) in Frequently asked questions.
  because it is the developer who decides which
  unit factors are assigned to units when the        Whom should I consult about buying
  condominium is registered.                         a condominium?

                                                     There are a number of professionals you
  Caution!                                           should turn to when buying a condominium.
  Check that your unit factor (also called           Real estate agents, lawyers, developers and
  "proportionate share") has been assessed           property managers -- who ideally specialize in
  accurately so that you're not overpaying           condominiums -- all play an important role.
  monthly maintenance fees. Unit factors
  are rarely assessed incorrectly but an error       Here is an overview of how each professional
  can be difficult to rectify because it means       can help. See Questions to ask advisors
  changing the corporation's declaration             and condominium experts (Chapter 5) for
  (or other governing documents).                    a list of things to ask before finalizing your
  The last thing you want is to move into your       purchase decision.
  new home only to discover that the reserve fund    Real estate agents: Buyers typically contact
  is underfunded and major repairs are required.     real estate agents when purchasing resale
  This could mean a big jump in your monthly
  condo fees or a lump-sum payment.                  condominiums. If you're buying a new
                                                     condominium, you'll usually deal with the
                                                     developer directly though it can be a smart
Home warranty                                        move to work with an experienced agent who
                                                     may be able to help you secure upgrades and
New condominiums are often protected by              better terms from the developer. A skilled agent
third-party new home warranty programs.              can help save you time and energy and provide
Warranty programs ensure that the condo              advice about what to include in the purchase
is properly constructed and meets building           offer to protect your interests.



                                                                                                       15

Condominium Buyer's Guide




Property managers: Unless a condominium
is self-managed, it's the property manager          Did you know?

who handles the day-to-day running of the           If you're purchasing a condominium in some
condominium, such as the hiring of staff,           jurisdictions, you can make the agreement-to-
maintenance and repairs. The property               purchase offer conditional upon the satisfactory
manager is under contract to the condominium        review of the condominium documents and
corporation and plays a pivotal role in ensuring    financial statements by a provincial condominium
the building operates safely and effectively.       document review specialist.

Condominium's board of directors: Before            Buyer beware!
you make a decision to buy in a particular
building, it's worth taking the time to speak       Use all of the investigative tools at your
                                                    command to help you avoid serious problems.
with the owners who sit on the board of             These tools can include property disclosure
directors if you have the opportunity. They         statements, professional property inspections,
have a "bird's-eye view" of the corporation and     condominium corporation minutes and
may be able to alert you to potential problems.     engineering reports.

Lawyers and notaries: A real estate lawyer
(or notary in Quebec) who is knowledgeable
about residential condominiums will protect
your legal interests. He or she should help
you understand the condominium documents
and will review your offer to purchase and the
purchase and sale agreement. A lawyer will also
be able to tell you whether or not there are legal
actions against the condominium corporation.

Home inspectors: A qualified home inspector
can evaluate the condition of the interior of
your unit as well as the exterior elements of
typical low-rise housing types, such as single-
family homes, duplexes, triplexes, row houses
and small apartment buildings. For larger
apartment buildings, you may want to hire
more specialized professionals, such as an
architect or engineer, who regularly conduct
condition assessments of larger buildings.




16

5 -- CHECKLISTS, TIPS, AND FAQS

The following checklists, tips and answers           unit will be accessible to someone with
to frequently asked questions are useful             limited mobility. What universal design
tools to help you find a condominium that            features will the unit include?
is right for you.
                                                    Find out if there are plans to reduce the
  Tips for buying a new condominium                 ceiling height anywhere in the unit to allow
                                                    for ductwork and other mechanical and
   Tips for buying a resale condominium
                                                     electrical services. This can have an impact
  Checklist for buying a new condominium            on the esthetics of the unit and the eventual

  Checklist for buying a resale condominium         location of lighting fixtures and furniture as
                                                     well as wall decorations and fittings.
  Condominium purchase and recurring costs
                                                    Check the future location of heating and
  Physical evaluation checklist
                                                     air-conditioning equipment, ventilators and
  Questions to ask advisors and                     hot water heaters. Again, this can affect how
   condominium experts                               much space you'll have and the attractiveness
                                                     of your unit.
  Questions to ask a real estate agent

                                                    Ask the developer key questions about
  Questions to ask a lawyer
                                                     construction quality, such as:
  Questions to ask a property manager
                                                       Have any special steps been taken to limit
  Questions to ask a condominium's board               noise between units?
   of directors
                                                       How are the units heated, cooled and
  Frequently asked questions
                                                        ventilated?
Tips for buying a new                                  How are odours controlled?
condominium
                                                       Is the building energy-efficient? If so,
                                                       what special equipment or systems would
   Look over the unit's drawings and
   specifications so you're clear about the floor       need to be maintained?
   measurements. Do they reflect the actual
                                                       Has water efficiency been incorporated
   floor area of the unit or do they include the
                                                        into the unit's fixtures?
   exterior and interior wall floor space areas as
   well? Verify where the unit's boundaries are        Who operates and maintains the heating
   and that your unit factor is reasonable.             and air-conditioning systems?

                                                        What options are there for suite wall and
  Find out whether or not you can have
                                                     
   changes made to the placement of walls,              floor finishes, cabinets, and plumbing and
   windows, doorways and types of doors                 lighting fixtures?
   (such as a pocket door) and what the costs
   would be.                                           How has the building construction
                                                        taken into account environmental
  Inquire whether the building and/or your             considerations?



                                                                                                  17

Condominium Buyer's Guide




 Check with the developer and municipality        Check if the unit comes with a new home
  about construction plans in the neighbouring      warranty, which ensures that the building
  area. Is the building part of a larger complex?   is properly constructed and meets legal
  What are the plans to build other structures,     regulations. You should know what the
  such as a high-rise, nearby? Could new            warranty covers and for how long. Coverage
  buildings change the view from your               on major components can run for as long
  unit significantly?                               as five to seven years after a building is
                                                    completed. For more information on new
                                                    home warranties, see CMHC's online guide
 Be clear about what is and isn't included
  in the purchase price so you can compare          Homebuying Step by Step.
  overall costs with other condominiums.
  For example:                                     Evaluate the current state of the
                                                    construction project. Is it likely that the
    Are there amenities, such as pools and         project will be completed by the date set
     parking, and how are they paid for?            out in the purchase agreement from the
                                                    developer? It's important to assess this
    Are finishes in the units included in          before making your moving and financing
     the purchase price?                            arrangements. There can be an unexpectedly
                                                    lengthy wait before a new condominium
    Are there other charges over and
     above the purchase price you should            project is completed and you can move in.

     be aware of?
                                                   Request a "disclosure statement" from
                                                    the developer in those jurisdictions where
    Are utilities (gas, electricity and
                                                    legislation stipulates a developer must
     water charges) covered in the monthly
                                                    provide you with one before the sale
     condominium fees or are they separately
                                                    agreement is binding. A disclosure statement
     metered? (You don't want to end
                                                    will give you some indication of the rules,
     up paying part of your neighbour's             regulations and financial situation of the
     utility bills.)                                condominium corporation before you buy
                                                    and includes, among other things:
 Verify, as best you can, that your monthly
  condo fees are realistic. Condo fees often
                                                      a summary of the condominium's features
  increase after the condominium's first year          and amenities;
  of operation because the developer may
  have agreed to pay for certain expenses in          the condominium's governing
  the first year, such as a concierge's salary,        documents; and
  but not in the second year. Fees can also
                                                      the condominium's budget for the
  increase after the first reserve fund study
                                                       first year after registration.
  has been completed.
                                                   Find out if your purchase agreement
 Investigate whether there are any "hidden"        lets the developer extend the occupancy
  costs. For example, some developers take out      date. This is especially important if you
  long-term leases on building fixtures, such as    are making arrangements to vacate your
  furnaces, to save on capital costs. These costs   existing home by a specific date based on the
  are inevitably passed along to owners.            original closing date. You should also check


18

                                                                         Condominium Buyer's Guide




 your provincial or territorial homeowner            Are utilities (gas, electricity and water
 protection legislation to learn your rights if       charges) covered in the monthly
 your agreed-upon occupancy date is missed.           condominium fees?

Consult with your lawyer before signing          Ask your experts to verify that there's enough
 any documents.                                    money in the reserve fund to cover the cost
                                                   of major repairs and renewal projects.
Tips for buying a resale
                                                  Find out whether any special assessments are
condominium                                        anticipated. For instance, an underground
                                                   parking garage may need renovation or
Find out exactly where your unit's                your building may be retrofitted for
 boundaries lie and if your unit factor is         wheelchair access.
 reasonable.
                                                  Investigate whether there are any "hidden"
Hire a home inspector to evaluate the             costs. For example, some developers take out
 condition of the individual unit you are          long-term leases on building fixtures, such as
 thinking of buying, as well as the building       furnaces, to save on capital costs. These costs
 as a whole.                                       are inevitably passed along to owners.

Consult the condominium's technical audit
                                                  Ask what municipal services, such as garbage
 (a building-wide inspection) and/or reserve       pickup and snow removal, the condominium
 fund study, if possible, to determine the         receives. Even though you pay for these
 condition of the building and common              services through your property taxes,
 property. (Also complete the Physical             condominiums sometimes have to assign this
 evaluation checklist.)                            work to contractors and you may pay for
                                                   them twice.
Review the financial documents the
 corporation is obliged to keep. These include:
                                                  Check what, if any, new home warranty
                                                   coverage remains on the unit.
   the annual operating budget;

                                                  Confirm that there are no legal actions
   end-of-year financial statements; and
                                                   against the condominium corporation.
   the estoppel or status certificate.
                                                  Consult with your lawyer before signing
Be clear about what is and isn't included         any documents.
 in the purchase price so you can compare
 overall costs with other condominiums.         Checklist for buying a
 For example:                                   new condominium
   Are there amenities, such as pools and
    parking, and how are they paid for?              Verify the unit's floor area and boundaries
                                                      and that your unit factor is reasonable.
   Are there other charges over and
    above the purchase price you should              Find out if you can have changes made
    be aware of?                                      to the placement of walls, windows and
                                                      doors and what the costs would be.



                                                                                                19

Condominium Buyer's Guide




    Inquire whether the building and/or your     Find out if your purchase agreement
     unit will be accessible to someone with       allows the developer to extend the
     limited mobility.                             occupancy date and check your provincial
                                                   or territorial homeowner protection
    Find out if there are plans to reduce the
                                                   legislation to learn your rights if your
     ceiling height anywhere in the unit.
                                                   agreed-upon occupancy date is missed.

    Check how the units will be heated,
                                                  Consult with your lawyer before signing
     cooled and ventilated and the location of
     heating and air-conditioning equipment,       any documents.

     ventilators and hot water heaters.
                                                Checklist for buying a
    Ask the developer about noise-and          resale condominium
     odour-reduction measures, environmental
     features and options for suite finishes,
                                                  Find out exactly where your unit's
     cabinets and fixtures.                        boundaries lie and if your unit factor
                                                   is reasonable.
    Check with the developer and
     municipality about planned construction
                                                  Hire a home inspector to evaluate the
     in the area.                                  condition of the unit you are thinking
                                                   of buying, as well as the building as
    Be clear about what is and isn't included
     in the purchase price so you can compare      a whole.
     overall costs with other condominiums.
                                                  Consider having an indoor air quality
                                                   inspection done to identify potential
    Find out if your monthly condo fees are
     realistic, what they include, and when        mold, airborne particulates, volatile
     they're likely to increase.                   organic compounds, poor ventilation
                                                   and odours from other units.
    Investigate whether there are any
     "hidden" costs, such as long-term leases     Consult the condominium's technical
     on building fixtures, which will be passed    audit and/or reserve fund study,
     along to owners.                              if possible, to determine the condition
                                                   of the building and common property.
    Check if the unit comes with a new
     home warranty and the extent of              Review the corporation's annual operating
     the warranty.                                 budget, end-of-year financial statements
                                                   and the estoppel or status certificate.
    Assess, as best you can, whether the
     project will be completed by the date in     Be clear about what is and isn't included
     the purchase agreement before making          in the purchase price so you can compare
     moving and financing arrangements.            overall costs with other condominiums.

    Request a "disclosure statement" from
                                                  Find out what your monthly condo
     the developer in jurisdictions where a        fees include and when they are likely
     developer must provide one before the         to increase.
     sale agreement is binding.



20

                                                                       Condominium Buyer's Guide




   Ask your experts to verify that there's      Landscaping fees*
    enough money in the reserve fund to
                                                 In some provinces, two months' common
    cover the cost of major repairs and           expenses to build the reserve fund*
    renewal projects.
                                                 Occupancy fees (if you move into your
   Find out whether any special assessments      unit before the unit is registered) that
    are anticipated, what they are for, how       may include estimated common expenses
    much they might cost and when they will       based on the disclosure statement budget;
    need to be paid.                              estimated realty taxes on the unit; Warranty
                                                  program enrolment fees*
   Investigate whether there are any
    "hidden" costs, such as long-term leases     Costs at closing
    on building fixtures, which will be passed   Remainder of purchase price
    along to owners.
                                                 Legal fees and disbursements

   Ask what municipal services the              PST and GST or HST on extras or upgrades
    condominium receives, such as garbage         to unit finishes, equipment and systems if
    pickup and snow removal.                      not included in purchase price*

   Check what new home warranty coverage        Provincial or territorial land transfer tax,
    remains on the unit, if any.                  if applicable

                                                 Adjustments
   Confirm that there are no legal actions
    against the condominium corporation.       * May not apply to resale units, since it was
                                               already paid and/or factored into the purchase
   Consult with your lawyer before signing    price. There are exceptions. For instance,
    any documents.                             GST and the federal portion of the HST
                                               will apply in some cases.
Condominium purchase and
recurring costs                                Recurring costs:

                                                 Monthly condominium fees or common
Don't forget to factor these costs into
                                                  expenses (or monthly occupancy fees if you
your budget:
                                                  move into your unit before it is registered)
 Basic purchase price
                                                 Property taxes
 Unit sale price
                                                 Unit and contents insurance
 Upgrades (negotiable)*

                                                Mortgage payments
  Development charges*

 GST or HST on the sale price*                  Amenity fees, such as storage, pool and
                                                  extra parking, if not included in the
 GST and PST or HST on appliances and
  other items being purchased with the unit*      common expenses

 Utility hookup fees*



                                                                                               21

Condominium Buyer's Guide




  Utilities (if not included in the                   Common basement or locker facilities are
   common expenses)                                     well lit, clean and dry.

  Telephone, cable and Internet access                No signs of water leaks or mold.
   (if not included in the common expenses)
                                                       Parking structure does not show any
  A contingency for emergency repairs                  evidence of leaks or concrete deterioration.

  Maintenance costs associated with the               All areas meet your needs for ease
   upkeep of your unit                                  of accessibility.

Other costs                                         Common elements -- Exterior

Occupancy fees (if you move into your unit             Garbage and recyclables are in receptacles
before the unit is registered) that may include         or dumpsters.
estimated common expenses based on the
disclosure statement budget; estimated realty          Snow and ice are removed from

taxes on the unit.                                      walkways and parking areas if viewing
                                                        in the wintertime.
Physical evaluation checklist                          Amenities are clean and in good repair,
(for resale units)                                      including recreational facilities (such as
                                                        playground structures) and landscaping.
Use this checklist to size up the physical state of
the condominium.                                       Exterior walls are not cracked, corroded
                                                        or water-stained.
Common elements -- Interior
                                                       Balcony railings are rigid and rust-free

     Lobby is clean and in good repair.                and balcony slabs are not breaking up.

     Exterior doors, locks and security system        Roadways, sidewalks and parking areas are
      are functional.                                   in good shape with no standing water.

     Recreational amenities (if any) are in good      Block heaters (if any) are functional.
      working order and clean.
                                                       Lighting in pathway and parking lot

     Elevators are clean and functional.               is good.

     Corridors are clean, well lit and odour-free;    Walls have no water stains, corrosion,
      carpets are in good repair and paint              loose siding or white marks on brick.
      is unmarked.
                                                       Lawn and fences are in good condition.

     Stairwells are well lit; doors and door
      handles are functional.                       Unit

                                                       Favourable initial reaction to odours upon
     Stairs have handrails and the stair edgings
      are marked for increased safety.                  entering the unit.




22

                                                                     Condominium Buyer's Guide




Exterior door to unit is in good repair,         Basement is dry and odour-free with no
 with unmarked paint and functioning               evidence of water damage (which would
 latch and locks.                                  indicate previous flooding).

Drywall is not dented or broken.                 Basement sump pump is functional
                                                   (if applicable).
Paint is unmarked.
                                                  Unit heating and air-conditioning systems
Flooring (including tile, hardwood and            are working, in good repair and not of an
 carpeting) is clean and in good repair,           age to be replaced.
 with no stains, holes or burn marks.
                                                  Exhaust fans in kitchen and bathroom
Smoke detectors are on each floor.                are operational.

Interior doors are in good repair and
 open and close easily; latches or knobs     Neighbourhood
 are functional.
                                                  The neighbourhood is sustainable.

Windows open, shut and lock easily; glass
                                                  The area is safe.
 is unscratched; no noticeable drafts or
 mold; seals are in place.                        The area has features and services you
                                                   or your family requires (for example,
No visible water-stain marks or damaged           public transit, convenient shopping,
 drywall around windows, near floors               parks, good schools).
 or ceilings.
All light fixtures are operational.         Questions to ask advisors
                                             and condominium experts
Appliances (if included) are functional,
 clean and in good repair.                   Before you purchase a new or resale
                                             condominium, you should consult with a
Plumbing does not drip.
                                             number of advisors and condominium experts.
Toilets flush and refill properly.          The following questions will help you assess
                                             their qualifications. Of course, condominium
Bathtub and shower walls are clean          markets vary and the intensity of a particular
 and solid.                                  market can influence how much time a buyer
                                             may choose to take to question experts and
Bathtub has solidly installed grab bars for
 safe entry and exit.                        review documents.

                                              Questions to ask a real estate agent
Floor of bathtub is non-skid.

                                              Questions to ask a lawyer
Electrical sockets function.

                                              Questions to ask a property manager
Kitchen cupboards are in good repair with
 functional doors and no signs of pests
                                              Questions to ask a condominium's board
 (insects or mouse droppings).                 of directors



                                                                                            23

Condominium Buyer's Guide



Questions to ask a real estate agent              In jurisdictions offering this service, you may
                                                  want a provincial condominium review
How much experience do you have in helping        specialist to examine the documents.
clients buy condominiums?
Buying a condominium is very different from       Are there any fees or charges I need to
buying a traditional house so it's important      know about?
that your agent specializes in condominiums.      If you deal with the vendor's agent, there
Ask the agent how many condominium buyers         should be no charge to you, as the agent will
she or he has represented in the last 12 months   be paid a commission by the vendor. An agent
and be sure to get three buyer references (who    acting exclusively for you should not charge
are unrelated to the agent). If you're buying a   a fee because he or she normally shares in the
new condominium, an experienced agent may         vendor's agent's commission.
be able to help you to secure upgrades and
better terms from the developer.                  Questions to ask a lawyer

Will you represent my interests only?             How much experience do you have with
You can opt to deal with the vendor's real estate residential condominium transactions?
agent, but you should really enlist one who will  Ensure that the lawyer specializes in residential
act only on your behalf.                          (not commercial) real estate law and has plenty
                                                  of experience in reviewing condominium offers
How familiar are you with the                     to purchase, and purchase and sale agreements.
neighbourhood(s) in which I want to buy?
                                                    Have you dealt with this developer before?
A neighbourhood specialist will know the
desirable areas and can readily advise you on       It's advantageous if your lawyer has some
pricing as well as the benefits and drawbacks        knowledge of the developer of the project.
to the neighbourhood.
                                                    Do you deal with both developers and
How much time will you give me to review             condominium buyers and sellers?
important documents?
                                                    Law firms often represent either developers
There's a lot of paperwork when you buy a            or condo buyers and sellers, but not both.
condominium. Ensure that you and your lawyer
have plenty of time to go over it before signing. At what point do you get involved in a
                                                  residential condominium purchase?
When drafting a purchase offer for a              Find out the key stages in the purchase process
condominium, what clauses do you                  when your lawyer will be needed.
normally include to protect the purchaser?
A realtor skilled in condominium purchases        What parts of a purchase agreement tend to
should know to include protective clauses         be problematic?
unique to condominium buying, such as             An attorney skilled in condominium law should
making the offer conditional upon a satisfactory  be able to identify areas in a contract that
review of the condominium's documents.            warrant special attention.




24

                                                                          Condominium Buyer's Guide




What will you expect from me?                       If employed by a property management
Find out what your role will be in the process       company, how long has the company been
and what documents you'll need to provide            in business? What are other properties

the lawyer.                                          managed by this company?

                                                    Can you provide concrete examples of where
Do you charge a flat fee or an hourly rate?          your organizational skills and follow-through
It's best to know this ahead of time so there are    benefitted this condominium community?
no surprises. If the lawyer charges by the hour,
                                                    How have you shown leadership when
ask for an estimate of his or her total time so      meeting the needs of residents, the board
you can work this into your budget.                  of directors, staff and contractors?

What costs will be incurred at the time of          How do you communicate with owners on a
closing or before?                                   timely basis? E-mail? An interactive website?

If you need a mortgage, you may have to have        Can you give an example of where you have
an appraisal done. Land transfer tax must be         learned from a mistake on the job?
paid at closing, if applicable. A lawyer should
                                                    What business skills and experience do you
be able to provide a complete list so that you
                                                     bring to the position?
can be prepared.
                                                    How has your attention to detail
Questions to ask a property manager                  made a difference in the building's
                                                     day-to-day operations?
A good property manager can have a significant
impact on the quality of life in a condominium      Have you, or are you working toward,
community. He or she ultimately serves the           the Registered Condominium
owners so it's in your best interest to find out     Manager designation?
as much as possible about this individual and/
                                                    How do you stay current with changes
or company before purchasing in a particular         in the industry?
building.

Property managers also tend to be very            Questions to ask a condominium's
busy people so you may want to set up an          board of directors
appointment with one by phone or e-mail.          Owners who sit on the board of directors
Here are some questions to ask a property         have a close-up view of the condominium
manager to get a better idea of his or her        corporation. While their knowledge of legal,
experience, personality, professionalism and      financial and property management issues
communication skills.                             will vary, it's worth asking them the following
                                                  questions if you have the opportunity.
  How long have you been the property
   manager for this condominium? How long
   have you been working in the property          How much money is in the reserve fund
   management field? How are vacations and        (and how is it invested)?
   other time away from the job covered?          You'll want to ensure that the condo has
                                                  sufficient funds to cover major repairs and
                                                  renewal projects.


                                                                                                 25

Condominium Buyer's Guide




Have there been special assessments in the             Has the condominium corporation made any
last five years and, if so, what were they for         claims on its insurance coverage in the last
and how much did they cost? Are any other              five years? If so, what for?
special assessments expected in the next               Insurance claims can tell you more about the
10 to 15 years?                                        condition of the property and may account for
Special assessments are sometimes necessary            steeper condo fees.
but frequent, costly ones may indicate a
deteriorating building or poor financial              Frequently asked questions
management.
                                                       Where are my unit's boundaries?
What is the turnover rate in the complex?
                                                       This will depend on your condominium.
This will give you an idea of how happy people
                                                       Sometimes, a unit boundary can be at the
are living there.
                                                       backside of the interior drywall of the unit's
                                                       dividing walls. Or, it might be the centre line
What is the turnover rate among the board
                                                       of the unit's walls.
of directors?
Repeated resignations among members may                It's important to be clear where your unit's
point to friction within the board.                    boundaries are located before you purchase.
                                                       You'll want to know, for instance, whether
How familiar are board members with                    you'll be paying for window washing or repairs
condominium legislation?                               to your townhouse's bricks or whether the

Provincial and territorial condominium                 condominium corporation will be. You can find

legislation covers many important aspects about        information about your unit's boundaries in

how condominiums operate, including the                your condominium's governing documents.

powers of the board of directors.                      If you buy a freehold condominium and own
                                                       the land your home is on, your unit may
Have there been any situations in which the            be the entire house including the exterior
board has drawn upon professional help?                walls, the roof and the lawn. You may want
Board members' knowledge of legal, financial           to hire a professional surveyor to review the
and property management issues may be limited          condominium corporation's site plan so you
so it may be necessary to consult professionals        know exactly where your unit's boundaries lie.
occasionally.
                                                       What is the difference between a
Is the condominium corporation involved in             freehold condominium and a regular
any lawsuits?                                          condominium?

If it is and it loses the lawsuit, a portion of all of The biggest difference is what is included as
the owners' maintenance fees could go toward           part of the unit. With a freehold condominium,
paying a settlement. This is one of the reasons        you own the plot of land and any structure
why you should review the corporation's                on that land, such as a house or a townhouse.
liability insurance coverage.                          You are normally responsible for the care and
                                                       upkeep of the entire house, including the


26

                                                                           Condominium Buyer's Guide




exterior walls and roof, as well as the lawn,        heating and cooling systems maintenance;
garden, driveway and garage. Your monthly
condo fees go toward the upkeep of common            amenities (such as a swimming pool or
property elements such as recreational facilities     party room);
or visitor parking.
                                                     utilities;
With a regular townhouse or house
                                                     cable and Internet;
condominium, your unit typically consists
of the interior of the house itself, while the       insurance policies for the condominium's
exterior of the house and the plot of land on         common areas;
which the unit sits are considered part of the
common elements. This means that repair              security systems maintenance
and maintenance of items like exterior walls,         and monitoring;
windows, lawns, gardens and driveways may
                                                     salaries of employees (if there is a
be the responsibility of the condo corporation.
                                                      superintendent or security guards,
Due to the fact that condominiums are                 for instance); and
governed by provincial and territorial
                                                     property management fees.
legislation, terminology that is commonly
used can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.   A portion of your condo fees will also likely
The term "freehold condominium" has                go toward the building's reserve fund. (Your
different meanings in different provinces.         province or territory may have another name
In most jurisdictions, the term refers to a        for this, such as contingency fund or capital
condominium where the unit holder owns the         replacement reserve fund.) A reserve fund
house as well as the plot of land on which the     ensures that the condominium has enough
unit sits. However, in others, the term includes   money to pay for the major repair and
all condominiums where the land is owned           replacement of the common elements over
by either the unit holder or the condominium
                                                   the life of the building. These may include
corporation. This is to distinguish freehold
                                                   the roof, roads, sewers, sidewalks, elevators,
condominiums from leasehold condominiums.
                                                   plumbing and other building systems. For more
With leasehold condominiums, the developer
                                                   information on reserve funds, see Is there enough
leases the land and the condominium
corporation is essentially a tenant.               money in the reserve fund?

                                                   To find out exactly what is -- and is not --
What do my condo fees cover?                       included in your monthly condo fees, check:
Your monthly condo fees pay your portion of
                                                     your disclosure statement (for new
the cost to maintain and repair the common            condominiums);
property. These costs may cover:
                                                     your estoppel or status certificate (for resale
  removal of snow, garbage and recyclables;          condominiums); and

  landscaping;
                                                     the condominium's operating budget.

  cleaning (carpets in common areas and
   outside windows, for example);


                                                                                                     27

Condominium Buyer's Guide




You can also find out more about your fees by    Is there enough money in the
speaking with the vendor, property manager,      reserve fund?
board of directors or the developer prior
                                                 The condominium's reserve fund provides
to purchasing a unit. Ask for confirmation
                                                 financing for major repairs and renewal projects
in writing.
                                                 over the life of the condominium building.

What can happen if I don't pay my                The fund essentially ensures that the

condo fees?                                      condominium's common elements will be
                                                 maintained in good shape.
Don't even think about withholding your
condo fees! They are neither optional nor        The amount of money that should be in the

negotiable. For example, if you don't plan to    reserve fund depends on:

use your building's swimming pool, you must
                                                   the condition and life expectancy of all of
still pay a share toward its care and upkeep.       the common elements in the building; and
Likewise, being frustrated with the board
of directors, property manager or another          the estimated cost to repair or replace them
unit owner doesn't allow you to stop paying         over the life of the project.
your fees.
                                                 Condominiums often rely on a reserve fund
In some provinces, the condominium               study to help them determine how much
corporation can register a lien on your unit     money should be in their reserve fund.
if you do not pay your share of the common       Reserve fund studies are carried out by
expenses. This means the corporation may have    engineers or other professionals who assess
the right to sell the unit to recover the money  the condition of the common elements of the
it is owed. It may also be entitled to charge    building, estimating their remaining lifespan
interest and collect any reasonable legal costs  and their related repair and/or replacement
and expenses it has incurred while trying to     costs. They then estimate what monthly
collect the debt.                                or annual contributions will be necessary
                                                 for long-term renewal.
Suspension of voting rights can be another
unfortunate consequence of withholding           Some jurisdictions have condominium
condominium fees. In some jurisdictions,         legislation that requires that reserve
you are not entitled to vote if you are more     fund studies be done on a regular basis.
than 30 days behind in your payments.            Others leave it up to the owners to estimate
                                                 how much should be in the fund.
Many banks include provisions in their
mortgages that owners who are in default of      Regardless of where you live, it's essential
their condo fees are automatically in default    that you find out the current state of the
of their mortgage. Depending on the amount       condominium's reserve fund. Check the
owed, they may be at risk of foreclosure.        disclosure statement or the estoppel or
                                                 status certificate for this information.




28

                                                                          Condominium Buyer's Guide



How do new home warranties work?                    all-risk or major perils;

Many new condominiums come with a                   personal liability -- against claims for bodily
developer's warranty, backed by a third-party        injury and/or property damage occurring on
new home warranty.                                   the condominium property;

As an owner of a new condominium, you'll want       directors' and officers' insurance -- for
to report any defects or omissions in your unit      claims made personally against a director
and co operate with the builder's warranty           or officer of the condo;
inspections. Some builders perform regular
investigative service calls during the first year   Boiler and machinery (equipment
of possession; others prefer to deal with all        breakdown);
warranty issues toward the end of that time.
                                                    Fidelity -- against claims for theft of
If the developer fails to correct construction        money; and
defects and deficiencies within a reasonable
                                                    Human rights defence costs -- for
time frame, buyers can turn to the third-party       claims made against members of the
new home warranty program to help resolve            board of directors.
outstanding issues.

New home warranties don't cover every item         Your unit owner's property or general
you might think is a defect so be clear on what    insurance package should cover:
the warranty does and does not cover, and for       chargeback of the corporation's deductible.
how long, before making a claim. Buyers of           It's vital that you make sure that your
resale condominiums should find out what             policy covers you if there is a chargeback
warranty coverage remains on the unit.               of the corporation's deductible (sometimes
                                                     $25,000 or more). This could happen if
What property or general insurance                   there were a flood in your unit that affected
coverage should I look for?                          another unit, for example. The corporation's
                                                     insurance may cover damages to the common
There are special considerations when insuring
                                                     elements and possibly other units, with cost
a condo as opposed to a residence held under
                                                     of the deductible being charged back to you
other tenure. You'll want to ensure that
                                                     as the unit owner that caused the problem.
your individual unit and the condominium
corporation as a whole are sufficiently insured.    liability;

A condominium corporation's property or             personal property and contents (appliances,
general insurance coverage may include:              furniture, jewellery, items stored in lockers,
                                                     for example);
  one hundred per cent replacement cost of
   the corporation's property, such as furniture,   improvements made to the unit (finishing
   equipment and vehicles;                           a basement, installing new cabinets,
                                                     for example);




                                                                                                   29

Condominium Buyer's Guide




  loss of use;

  loss assessment -- property damage or
   liability (when the corporation's insurance is
   invalid or insufficient); and

  unit contingency (coverage if the
   condominium corporation's insurance on
   your unit's structure is insufficient).

Condominium insurance requirements
vary across Canada. You should consult
your provincial or territorial condominium
legislation, your condominium's governing
documents as well as a condominium insurance
specialist to ensure sufficient coverage.

Can I rent out my condominium?

Many condominium buyers purchase their
units as an investment and plan to rent them
out. Most condos allow owners to do this but
you should confirm this by reviewing your
condominium's governing documents and
provincial or territorial legislation.

You may also want to find out from the
property manager what percentage of
the building is owner-occupied. In some
condominiums, a large percentage of the
units are rented out and there may not be
the same pride of ownership and sense of
community and security that you may find
in a building that is fully owner-occupied.
Additionally, absentee owners may not have
the same maintenance and repair priorities for
the building as owners who actually live in the
building.

Find out about key business and legal aspects
of being a landlord in Your Guide to Renting
a Home.




30

GLOSSARY

Bare land condominium                              a charge against the unit equal to the unpaid
                                                   contribution. The caveat can be enforced in
The boundaries of a bare land condominium
                                                   the same manner as a mortgage.
are defined in relation to the land, instead of
to a structure or improvement on the land.         Chattel
A building that is constructed on a bare land
unit is considered part of the unit.               A chattel is a piece of personal property
                                                   that can be moved, such as a refrigerator.
Board of directors                                 In contrast, real property, such as buildings
                                                   and land, cannot be moved.
Each condominium has a board of directors
that is elected by, and generally made up of,      Common elements or
the unit owners. The board is responsible          common property
for administration and management of the
condominium corporation, including policy          Common elements or common property are
and finances, as well as decisions about the       the portions of the condominium that are not
maintenance and repair of the common               owned by a unit purchaser as part of his or
property. Some decisions will directly affect      her individual unit. They are co-owned and
your use of common property elements.              generally shared by all the individual owners
Unit owners are usually entitled to one vote       of the condominium corporation. They usually
for each unit they own for each position on        (but not always) include such things as corridors,
the board of directors.                            elevators, recreational facilities, playgrounds,
                                                   lobbies, the grounds, parking and central
Bylaw                                              heating and air-conditioning systems. What is
                                                   and is not included as part of the common
Bylaws govern how a condominium corporation
                                                   property elements must be listed in the
is run. They frequently cover matters such as
                                                   condominium's governing documents. It is
the election and duties of the board of directors,
                                                   possible that some of the common elements
how meetings are conducted and the collection
                                                   may be reserved for the personal use of one or
of condo fees. Provincial and territorial
                                                   several owners. They are known as restricted
condominium legislation specifies what matters
                                                   or exclusive-use common elements.
can be governed by bylaws. Legislation in
some jurisdictions does not make a distinction     Disclosure statement
between bylaws and rules.
                                                   In some jurisdictions, the developer of a
Caveat                                             new condominium must provide you with a
                                                   disclosure statement before the agreement of
In some jurisdictions, if an owner does not pay
                                                   purchase and sale is binding. The statement
his or her condominium fees, the condominium
                                                   includes, among other things, a summary of
corporation can file a caveat against the unit's
                                                   features or amenities, proposed commencement
title. The caveat is a legal notice that another
                                                   and completion dates for construction, the
party is claiming interest in the property.
                                                   condominium's governing documents and
Once the caveat is filed, the corporation has
                                                   budget for the first year after registration.




                                                                                                   31

Condominium Buyer's Guide



Estoppel certificate or status certificate       Governing documents

Most jurisdictions require condominiums          These are the documents that describe how
to issue information packages to prospective     the condominium is organized and operated.
buyers. This package can contain the             They have different names in different
declaration, bylaws, rules and regulations,      provinces, but they can include declarations,
insurance information, reserve fund balance,     bylaws and rules. They can contain provisions
other financial disclosures, legal description   setting out the boundaries of the common
of the unit and management contract (if          elements and the individual units, the percentage
applicable). It may also include information     of ownership each owner has in the common
about any legal filings or judgments against the elements, the bylaws or budget and common
condominium corporation, the possibility of      expenses. Governing documents vary from one
common expense increases, special assessments    condominium to another and are filed with
or insurance claims, all of which could affect   the land registry office when the condominium
condominium fees.                                corporation is created.

Fee simple                                       Leasehold condominium

"Fee simple" tenure is the most common type      A leasehold condominium differs from a
of ownership. Owners of single-family homes      freehold condominium because the land on
-- who own both their home and the land it        which the condominium is situated is leased,
is on -- hold the property in fee simple, for     instead of owned, by the developer. Buyers of
example. In contrast, condominium owners         leasehold units purchase an interest that has
who own their unit but not the land on which     limited duration due to the length of the
the complex is built, do not.                    developer's lease.

Freehold condominium                             Property manager

Owners of freehold condominiums typically        The property manager handles the day-to-day
own their unit -- such as a house or townhouse    running of the condominium, such as hiring
-- as well as the land it's on. They are usually  of staff, maintenance and repairs. The property
responsible for the care and maintenance         manager is under contract to the condominium
of their entire property, including the          corporation. A representative from the property
home's roof and outside walls and the lawn,      management company usually attends board
driveway and garage. Owners of freehold          meetings. Some condominiums may not have
condominiums pay condo fees toward the           a property manager. These are sometimes
upkeep of the corporation's common property.     referred to as self-managed condominiums.
There are exceptions to this definition in       The board of directors, with the help of
some jurisdictions, where a "traditional"        volunteers, will assume responsibility for
condominium unit that has no plot of land        the day-to-day management in these cases.
is considered to be a freehold condominium
(as opposed to a leasehold condominium).




32

                                                                           Condominium Buyer's Guide



Reserve fund                                     Services unit

This is a fund set up by the condominium         Condominium corporations often own units
corporation in a special account to cover        that are for the use and benefit of all owners.
the costs of major repairs and replacement       These "services units" include amenities
of the common property elements over             such as recreational facilities, laundry rooms,
time. Usually it is at least 10 per cent of      landscaping and roads.
the corporation's total operating expenses,
although the criteria vary among provinces       Unit
and territories. In some jurisdictions,
                                                 Home sweet home. The unit is the area
the reserve fund is called a contingency fund.
                                                 that you actually own and hold title to.
Reserve fund amounts and contributions are       Repair and upkeep of the unit are generally
more accurately determined by a technical        your responsibility.
audit and reserve fund study undertaken by
a qualified consultant.                          Unit factor

                                                 Your unit factor is a percentage that represents
Rules
                                                 how much of the condominium's common
Rules govern day-to-day life in a condominium    elements you own or your "ownership
and help ensure that the condominium             interest." It is typically based on your unit's
is properly operated and maintained.             value (particularly its size and location) in
Condominiums may have rules regarding the        relation to the total value of all of the units
number of occupants per unit, pets, noise,       in the corporation. Your unit factor is used to
parking, smoking and when various amenities      calculate your monthly condominium fees.
may be used. Rules are usually easier to change
than bylaws. Legislation in some jurisdictions
does not make a distinction between bylaws
and rules.

Security

A security offers protection that an obligation
will be met. A developer may be required to
post a security, such as a bond or a letter of
credit, as a means of recourse should he or she
fail to complete construction as promised.




                                                                                                  33

       CONDOMINIUM
       BUYER'S GUIDE


                                About Your House Series

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                                              at www.cmhc.ca




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                                              The complete Homebuying Step-By-Step guide is available in an instantly accessible,
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