If you are looking to simplify your lifestyle, there are plenty of advantages to downsizing to a condominium. While there are many different types of condos options, they are all generally less expensive than single-family homes. Condos offer reduced maintenance, and often include amenities to make your life easier with maintenance free living. Perks such as parking garages, fitness centres, elevators, and concierge services are often found in condo complexes.
Condos are able to offer these benefits because, as a condo owner, you are typically a member of a condominium association responsible for providing certain services and amenities to its members. The association is collectively made up of all the condo owners who typically elect a board to carry out responsibilities for the good of the condo building and its residents.
The board is also responsible for setting and collecting dues to pay for condo needs. Every condo association is governed by bylaws and an owner's responsibilities may be different under each association.
However, one commonality among condo associations is you are generally only responsible for maintenance and repairs for items within your unit. The condo association is then responsible for the maintenance and repair of items that are outside your unit, such as landscaping and exterior maintenance. Here is some additional information to help you further understand who is responsible for what when it comes to condo living.
1. Your Responsibilities
Subject to the bylaws of your condo association, as an owner you are typically responsible for:
- Repair and maintenance of your exclusive condo unit. This includes any problems that occur within your condo. This could also include porches or balconies attached to your unit.
- Payment of condo association membership dues. Dues are generally assessed monthly. Failing to pay dues repeatedly could result in a lien being placed on your unit for the amount in default.
- Payment of any special assessments for unexpected expenses instituted by the condo association in addition to regular membership dues.
- Payment of property taxes based on the value of your particular unit.
- Purchasing property insurance for personal possessions within your unit, and personal liability insurance for harm that could occur to others inside your unit.
Pride in Ownership
Though they may not be explicitly set forth in a condo association’s bylaws, as a condo owner you have a duty to learn the condo association rules, to follow them and to be respectful in your use of all common grounds.
2. The Condo Association’s Responsibilities
Subject to the bylaws of your condo association, the association is typically responsible for:
- Maintenance, repair, and care of common areas of the condo building and outside of the individual units. This includes garages, hallways, elevators, lobbies, outdoor spaces, and any other area that all condo association members have access to. Maintenance and repair generally cover outdoor landscaping and snow removal, interior and exterior upkeep such as painting, and maintenance of electrical fixtures in common areas.
- Exterior doors and windows of individual condo units. Even though doors and windows are connected to the unit, condo associations typically handle maintenance and repair of these items.
- Having insurance for all common areas and exterior elements of the condo building.
- Collecting and accounting for membership dues, and maintaining a reserve fund to cover any expenses not accounted for in the association’s annual budget.
- Contracting with service workers to perform maintenance and repairs for common areas, and employing any employees of the association.
- Any other functions or services provided for in the condo association bylaws.
3. Multi-Residential Community Living
It’s also important to consider the differences between living in a multi-residential community and living in a single-family home.
Unless there is an emergency, such as a leaking pipe that impacts other units or a fire, no agent of the association may enter your unit without your express permission. Detached housing provides more seclusion than living in a multi-unit condo building, but as an owner in a condo building you have the right to exclude others from your unit.
Renting to Tenants
Just as with any other ownership of real estate, you have a right to rent your condo unit to tenants. However, depending on the condo association’s bylaws, you may be required to seek approval from the condo association. It’s important to know the condo rental guidelines for Alberta and your association’s bylaws before entering into any lease agreement.
In many ways, living in a managed community shared with other conscientious owners simplifies the demands of owning real estate. Though condo owners must abide by association bylaws, these reasonable guidelines are a trade-off for the benefits of reduced home maintenance and the amenities that come with condo living.