• 100-4300 Village Centre Ct, Mississauga, ON

Before You Buy a Condo

Before You Buy a Condo

Are you thinking of becoming a condominium owner soon? Living in a condo is not for everyone but if you are set on buying one, here are a few things to know! Tips and tricks courtesy of Consumer Protection Ontario, an awareness program from Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.


ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS

Do I like the communal aspect of condominium living?

As a condo owner, you are the owner of your unit BUT you are also part of the condo community.

Can I afford monthly condo fees?

It is important to know that increases in condo fees are quite typical in order for condo corporations to keep up with inflation and unexpected expenses. As a condo buyer, you should know this going into ownership of a unit(s).

Please note that if you are purchasing a brand new condo, it is likely that a large increase in condo fees will occur from the first year of ownership to the second year. This might be because of the cost of certain amenities that the condo needs to take into account or the condo corporation’s budget for the first and second year may have been estimated too low.

If you decide to purchase a condo unit, you must understand your condominium’s finances and be confident in your ability to handle unexpected increases in monthly condo fees.

Am I prepared to contribute to how the condominium is run and governed?

According to Consumer Protection Ontario, condo owners have a responsibility to attend owners’ meetings vote:

  • To elect the condo board of directors
  • On how the condominium will be governed (e.g. changes to by-laws and rules)
  • On other issues that the condo board proposes (e.g. certain renovations)

Do I understand responsibilities of owning a condo?

Condo living is great because it boasts a “carefree” living environment that is different from owning your own house. However, that does not mean that living in a condo is responsibility-free. Owning a condo comes with many obligations including:

  • Maintaining and repairing your own unit
  • Contributing financially to the maintenance, repair, insurance, and operation of the common elements
  • Living by the condo corporation’s rules
  • Participating in owners’ meetings
  • Respecting the right of the other owners, especially your neighbours

Taking the time to understand your rights and responsibilities before you buy will ensure you choose the most appropriate condo community for you.

Am I looking for amenities?

Are the type of amenities offered at the condo building of use to you? Generally, the more amenities there are such as fitness centres, swimming pools and concierge services, the higher the condo fees are.


BEFORE YOU BUY

There are a number of things you should consider before buying a condo unit. A complete list of questions you should discuss with a lawyer, real estate agent or accountant can be found here but a few important ones include:

  • How are my condo fees determined?
  • What are my repair and maintenance responsibilities?
  • Am I responsible for the maintenance of my heating and cooling equipment?
  • Should I consider getting extra insurance?
  • Is there a shared facilities agreement with another condominium or property? (Some condominium properties may share amenities with others)
  • Are there any commercial units located within the building?

Advice and guidance from professionals is critical to making an informed decision.


CONDO FEES

Monthly Common Expense Fees
Special Assessments

These fees cover several costs including the upkeep of common elements, the operating costs of shared amenities, and payments for security, cleaning and concierge staff.

As a condo owner, you are responsible for paying your condo fees.

If you do not pay your condo fees, your mortgagee will likely be notified and the condo corporation will have the right to register a certificate of lien against your unit. Condo fee payment is just as important as paying your mortgage or your property taxes!

Make sure you know:

  • What services are and are not included in these monthly fees
  • If you need to pay certain costs in advance
  • What is included in the monthly operating costs (ie. utilities, legal fees, landscaping, etc)

Special assessment are fees that can be occasionally charged by a condo corporation on top of regular monthly fees.  This type of expense may be charged to help cover unexpected repairs of large scale or to make up for shortages of reserve funds.

How much each condo unit has to pay for a special assessment fee is set out in the condominium declaration and it is typically the same percentage that is used to determine an owner’s share of monthly condo fees.

Note: These fees do NOT need to be approved by all owners. According to Consumer Protection Ontario, you have the right to request copies of financial records from your board, as long as you put your request in writing and give reasonable notice.


GET INVOLVED

Once you become a condo owner, it is highly suggested that you get involved so you fully understand your rights and responsibilities, as well as have your say about certain decisions.

As a condo owner, you are entitled to vote at meetings of the condo corporation and you must comply with the condo’s declaration, bylaws and rules.

By attending owners meetings, you can have your say and help make group decisions about the property and fees that you pay while you live there. Your involvement could help improve the qualify of life and satisfaction within the condominium community.


Source: Consumer Protection Ontario