FAQ for Condo Buyers
What is a condominium, and as a condominium purchaser, what exactly will I own?A condo is a form of individual ownership in a multi-tenant building, which could be either a townhouse or apartment. Ownership is also combined with a fractional share of the common property of the complex. You own your strata lot or condominium unit outright. The boundaries of your unit are defined in a legal document called a strata plan; in addition, you become a part owner of all common property.
What does common property mean?Common property means all property in the strata plan that is not part of any individual unit. For example, it would include hallways, open space around buildings, elevators, playgrounds, pool and other recreational facilities.
Are condos the same as co-operatives?No. Co-operatives do not involve individual ownership. In a condo, you own your unit and you are not responsible for liabilities arising in your neighbour’s unit; in a co-op, there is only a single mortgage with each individual paying a proportional amount. A co-op sells shares, allowing a buyer to occupy a unit.
What is a strata corporation in relation to a strata plan?A strata corporation is the legal entity of which you are a member. It represents and controls the common property described in the strata plan. It collects money from the owners and pays the “common” bills. The corporation is not the same as the strata council, which is elected by members (owners) to look after the affairs of the strata corporation.
Does a condo owner have the same rights as the owner of a single detached house?No. Condo ownership involves an element of communal ownership and living, and the strata corporation may restrict your lifestyle through bylaw changes. Other differences include: Your mortgagor, which is usually a bank or credit union, may exercise your vote at corporation meetings; you are responsible for legal judgements against the strata corporation; the corporation may do repairs in your unit and charge you or pay your taxes and fine you for non-payment of maintenance fees or bylaw violations. Finally, the strata corporation may place a lien on your title for default in maintenance fees.
Who prepares the operating budget?You and all the other owners of strata lots. All owners are automatically members of the strata corporation, which through its council manages the common property and assets of the strata corporation.
What to watch for when buying a condo:Check the strata plan to determine your lot and the project boundaries
- Who owns the parking and storage areas?
- Find out your share of operating expenses.
- What are the monthly maintenance fees, and what expenses are included in the operating budget?
- Ask for a "Form B" certificate of full payment, which should show that maintenance fees are paid up to date.
- Examine the bylaws and rules & regulations.
- Check for judgements and liens against the common property.
- Check the amount and type of insurance on the strata corporation.
Can condos be mortgaged?Yes.
How are my property taxes determined?Each lot is valued together with its proportionate share of the common property.
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