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Condominiums

More than half of new homes built so far in Ontario during 2013 are condominiums and more than a million residents of Ontario choose to live in condominiums. In fact the popularity of Condominiums has encouraged the provincial government to revue the condominium act created in 1998.

More Information on Ontario's Condominium Act Review: http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/oncondo_about.aspx

Condominium living is a popular option for many Canadians as it can be a relatively carefree housing option. Condominium living can offer the prospective homeowner many desirable attributes such as affordable housing and low maintenance requirements. Many condominiums have enhanced security features over that found in single family houses. Some even prefer the Social opportunities provided by condominium living over buying new homes. Here in London, Ontario you can see condos being built across the city.

 What are Condominiums?

A “condominium” typically refers to a form of legal ownership, as opposed to a style of construction. Many people imagine Condominiums as high-rise residential buildings, but this form of ownership can also apply to townhouse complexes, individual houses and low-rise residential buildings. Each development establishes a corporation to deal with day-to-day functions (maintenance, repairs, etc.). A board of directors is elected by the owners of units (or, in the case of a common elements condominium corporation, the owners of the common interest in the common elements) in the development on at least a yearly basis. A general meeting is held annually to deal with board elections and the appointment of an auditor (or waiving of audit). Matters can also be dealt with at the Annual General Meeting, but special meetings of the owners can be called by the board and, in some cases, by the owners themselves, at any time.

Condominiums consist of two parts. The first part is a collection of private dwellings called “units”. Each unit is owned by and registered in the name of the purchaser of the unit.  The boundaries of each individual unit and the percentage of common elements you own may vary from condominium to condominium, depending on how they are specified in the condominium's governing documents. Sometimes, the unit boundary can be at the backside of the interior drywall of the unit’s dividing walls. Alternatively, the unit boundary can be the center line of the unit’s walls. Each unit owner has an undivided interest in the common elements of the building. This ownership interest is often referred to as a “unit factor”. The unit factor for any particular unit will generally be calculated in proportion to the value that the unit has in relation to the total value of all of the units in the condominium corporation. The unit factor will tell you what your ownership percentage is in the common elements and will be used in calculating the monthly fees that you must pay towards their upkeep and renewal.  The boundaries of your condominium unit are an important consideration at the time of purchase— particularly if alterations and renovations are a potential part of your purchase plan. The unit typically includes any equipment, systems, finishes, etc. that are contained only in the individual unit. The right to use one or more parking spots and storage areas may be included. While you may have exclusive access to parking spot or storage area, you seldom actually own the space itself.

The second part consists of the common elements of the building that may include lobbies, hallways, elevators, recreational facilities, walkways, gardens, etc. Common elements may also include structural elements and mechanical and electrical services. The ownership of these common elements is shared amongst the individual unit owners, as is the cost for their operation, maintenance and ongoing replacement.

Freehold Condominiums

The biggest difference between a freehold condominium and a regular condominium is what is included as part of the unit. With a freehold condominium, you own the plot of land and any structure on that land such as a house or townhouse. You are normally responsible for the care and upkeep of the entire house, including the exterior walls and roof, as well as the lawn, garden, driveway and garage.

With a freehold condominium, the common property elements might include access roads to the units, recreational facilities, visitor parking area or a park with a playground. These items may be the responsibility of the condominium corporation. All unit owners pay a monthly condominium fee toward their upkeep.

With a regular townhouse or house condominium, the unit typically consists of the interior of the house itself, while the exterior of the house and the plot of land on which the unit sits are considered part of the common elements. This means that repair and maintenance of items like exterior walls, windows, lawns, gardens and driveways may be the responsibility of the condominium corporation. In a freehold condominium, you usually have more freedom to make improvements, such as landscaping features, to the unit. However, there are usually provisions that give the condominium corporation some control over owners modifying the unit, such as determining when the roof will be repaired, and what color the shingles must be. So if you want to change the color of your door or build a deck in your backyard, you may have to ask for permission from the Board of Directors.

For more detailed information:  www.straughan.ca/condos/page_2029769.html

 

 

Published Monday, February 11, 2013 8:51 AM by Jim Straughan
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