Important Things to Know

What are common elements?

When owning a condo you own the unit itself, as well as a proportionate share of the common elements. Common elements include such things as building amenities (gym, sauna, party room, pool, security, concierge, parks, etc.) as well as the hallways, elevators, landscaping,  – anything that is owned by the condo corp that will be shared by unit owners for common use.

Status Certificate: Why is it Important?

The Status Certificate & Related Documents is a document available through the building property manager’s office. It is a snapshot of the legal and financial health of the condo corporation and is updated periodically. The status certificate contains information on the condo corp’s reserve fund, maintenance fees, condo board & structure. When purchasing a condo, you should always include a condition allowing for your lawyer to examine the status certificate prior to firming up the sale.

What is a reserve fund?

The condo’s reserve fund is the pool of money they have set aside (required by law) for repairs and replacements to the common elements of the building. It is built up through the payment of monthly maintenance fees and can be depleted when major repairs are needed.

Rules, Regulations and How Things Work:

If you don’t have a copy, you can request a copy of your condo’s by-laws from the property manager. It is also important as an owner to attend your condo board’s meetings, where you can find out what type of projects are being planned for the condo corp, including impacts on the reserve fund, planned or proposed increases to maintenance fees, etc.

Parking and Condos:

When purchasing a resale condominium, parking is sometimes included as a part of the purchase price, and sometimes it is not. If a parking space is not included with your condo unit, you might have the option to purchase or rent one of these spaces separately. If you own your parking space, you are free to sell or rent it as you please (subject to condo rules and regs).

It is also possible to have exclusive use of a parking spot. Exclusive use means you are assigned a parking space that’s yours, and only yours, to use as long as you own your condo.

The cost of purchasing a parking spot varies from building to building, and of course is subject to availability. Buyers in Ottawa can expect roughly to pay $25,000 – $35,000 for a parking spot in a downtown condo building.

What are Special Assessments?

A special assessment is a charge that may be levied against your unit by the board of directors of your condo corporation. It requires you to pay a sum of money to pay for repairs that the condo corporation can’t cover from its reserve fund – for instance if a major overhaul is needed in the building. The board of directors will usually call a meeting of all unit owners to discuss a prudent course of action/how and when a special assessment would be collected.

What Does Maintenance Fees/Condo Fees Cover?

Each condo building is different in terms of what your condo fees cover. This information can be obtained on the MLS listing for a condo or by obtaining a list of covered items through the property management company or condo corporation. In most condo buildings, common elements and building insurance are covered; some condos cover parking, locker, and/or many utilities like water, heat, hydro and central air, snow removal in common areas, landscaping and cleaning of common areas can also be paid through your condo fees.

Maintenance fees/Condo fees can increase, and often increase yearly in accordance with inflation rates, and may increase or decrease as a result of decisions made by the condo association.

Do Condo Owners Pay Property Taxes?

Yes, condo owner are also subject to property taxes. You can find out what the property taxes are through the current owner, the MLS listing, your Realtor, or the City of Ottawa.