Living in a Condominium can be quite different from living in a house or apartment. Because you share ownership of the common areas in the complex, the owners must make decisions together about the running of the Corporation. This unique ownership has implications in a number of areas:
- Your Rights and Responsibilities
- Rules, Regulations and By-Laws
- Taxes and Insurance
- Repairs and Maintenance
- Resolving Disputes
Your Rights and Responsibilities
When you own a Condominium unit, you have the right and obligation to vote on matters affecting unit owners. You also have the right to use the common areas; get information on the management or administration of the Corporation; and use arbitration to resolve disputes.
As an owner, you must abide by the Act, regulations, by-laws and general rules; attend general meetings and read the minutes; maintain your own unit; and pay all Condominium fees on time. As an owner, you also have the responsibility to participate in the governance process for your own and other owners’ benefits.
Rules, Regulations and By-Laws
Every Condominium is governed by its own unique rules, regulations and by-laws. There may be rules regarding the number of occupants per unit, pets, noise, parking and when certain amenities may be used. In most cases, you can rent out your Condominium, but check the by-laws to be sure.
Many Condominiums have strict rules about altering the unit space or appearance. Additionally, you may need to get permission from the Board before you can do things like change exterior fixtures, install a satellite dish, set up a clothesline or put an air-conditioning unit in your window.
Taxes and Insurance
You will need to pay municipal taxes on your Condominium unit and your share of the common areas. The current taxes should be noted in the purchase documents, but it’s a good idea to check with the municipal government to confirm that figure.
Repairs and Maintenance
One of the great things about Condominium living is not having to shovel snow or mow the lawns. Day-to-day maintenance and repair of the shared areas like hallways, exterior walls and grounds are managed by the Board of Directors on behalf of the Corporation. Each owner shares in these costs by paying a monthly Condominium fee.
You are simply responsible for the repairs and maintenance within your own unit. This could include plumbing, appliances, and heating or electrical systems that are in your unit and used only by you.
In an environment where people live very close to one another and group decision-making is necessary, there can be, from time to time, disputes that arise between owners, the developer, the Corporation, an employee of the Corporation or a Director.
If you have a dispute with someone, speak directly to them and try to resolve the problem. If the conflict involves the by-laws, the Act, the regulations or the Corporation, you can file a written complaint with the Board of Directors. Mediation and/or arbitration can be used as an alternative to court action if the dispute remains unresolved. The party will need to apply to the Director to appoint an arbitrator.