Are you thinking of buying a condo in Ontario? If you are a first-time buyer, it is important to note that condo ownership is different from owning other types of property in several important ways, and it is essential to understand these differences before you buy. You may want to seek the advice of a lawyer, real estate agent or accountant before making a decision.
According to the Ontario government’s website, below are some examples of how condo living may be different from renting or owning other property:
Condo owners are also co-owners of the common elements in the complex, such as hallways, lobbies, or amenities. This means that, as a condo owner, you would share the costs for the upkeep, maintenance and repair of these elements with your fellow condo owners. If extraordinary repairs to the condo complex are needed, you may also be required to pay special assessment fees to cover part of the cost of the repairs.
You may not always have a say in how issues directly affecting your condo complex are addressed. Depending on the issue, decisions affecting the condo complex may be made by the unit owners, by the condominium corporation’s board of directors, or by the condominium manager. Condo owners, who are not members of the board of directors are not entitled to vote on every decision that a condo board makes, nor can they initiate a vote to compel the board to do, or not to do, something (except for very limited issues). For example, owners may not have a say in the final decision when selecting a company to perform repairs to the condo complex's common elements.
The condominium corporation's declaration sets out the basic rights, obligations, and restrictions for condo owners, such as the use of a unit, repair and maintenance obligations, etc. In addition, the board of directors may also make rules that apply to residents in the complex. For example, there may be restrictions on:
- How you can use your unit or the common elements (such a party room, fitness centre)
- The size or number of pets that you can keep
- The colour of your blinds or window coverings
- The types of renovations permitted to your unit
A condo's by-laws set out how the corporation will be run. They deal with the responsibilities and powers of the board of directors, how board and owners' meetings will be run, the collection of condo fees, and much more.
Right to Enter a Condo Unit
A representative of a corporation may enter a unit to carry out the "objects and duties" of the corporation, like inspecting the smoke detectors or heating and cooling system, provided he or she gives the unit owner and resident reasonable notice and enters at a reasonable time.
If there is an emergency, like a fire, or a unit owner fails to fulfill their duties, such as maintenance of certain aspects of the unit, then condo management may be able to enter your unit immediately or without notice.
As we prepare for designation as a fully functioning administrative authority, the CAO is developing more information, tools and resources to better serve the condo community. Until then, please refer to the Ontario government's condo pages to learn more about buying a condo in Ontario.