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Who's responsible for condo maintenance and repairs? (and who pays the fees?)

“Always pick your yard based on your Summer lifetstyle.”

~ KARL

August 15, 2019 - Karl Yeh

When buying a condo, who is responsible for maintaining it? What are the owner's responsibilities? Renters? In this episode, we discuss maintenance responsibilities, how maintenance fees are calculated and what's included in these fees. 

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What we discussed:

Hi, there. I'm Karl. Welcome to another Homebuyer's School video, a channel where you get the latest strategies, tactics, and tips from home-buying experts.

Remember, if this is your first time on this channel and you want to get the latest strategies from the experts, hit the subscription button below, hit the little notification [00:00:30] bell so you don't miss anything.

Today, I'm joined by Karen McDonald, Community Manager with Brookfield Residential, and the question we're going to answer is ... Actually, the topic we're going to answer is on condo maintenance. Karen,

Who is responsible for maintaining a condo?

Karen McDonald:         

Well, the corporation that manages your whole area, the whole development, would be responsible for maintaining it, but it's also comprised of a homeowners' board that's formed by the [00:01:00] homeowners.

Those members will be determined by the homeowners on the whole and they'll have a say.

Everybody as a homeowner has a say as to how the property is managed, with the help of the management company.

Karl Yeh:                       It's not usually called a homeowners' board. It's condo board.

Karen McDonald:          Condo board, yeah.

Karl Yeh:                      

Yeah, the condo board typically.

What is the responsibility of a condo owner themselves?

Karen McDonald:         

Well, depending on your level of ownership as well, too. Of course, maintaining [00:01:30] the interior of the home, not doing anything to damage party walls.

Bylaws will state everything that the homeowner is responsible for, so make sure that you're well aware of what the bylaws state but yeah, typically, it's within the property lines, if condo fees maintain the exterior of the building, that's up to the management company to maintain for you.

Condo renter responsibilities

Karl Yeh:                      

Okay. If you are a renter though, what are your responsibilities? Because [00:02:00] it has to be different than an actual owner of the condo. Correct?

Karen McDonald:          It's really not.

Karl Yeh:                       Okay.

Karen McDonald:         

I mean, as a renter you assume the bylaws as your own because you're renting that space and your landlord should provide you with a copy of those bylaws to say what you can and can't do with that property, so there's some instances where you can run a business that brings traffic to and from your front door, so if you're renting and that's going to pose an issue [00:02:30] from other people that live around you, that's going to be an issue with your rent.

Karl Yeh:                       Got it.

Karen McDonald:        So you have to be aware of the bylaws and you have to accept them.

Karl Yeh:                       So obviously there's condo fees related to your condo, right?

Karen McDonald:          Yes.

Karl Yeh:                      

So if you want to know more about condo fees, check out our video above and below,

but for a condo maintenance fee, how are they calculated?

How are condo maintenance fees calculated?

Karen McDonald:         

They're typically calculated on unit factor shares, so within the whole development, any development in Alberta, multi-family, will have 10,000 unit factor [00:03:00] shares and so typically based on size of a home, unit factor shares are divided into numbers so that affects your property tax also, it affects your voting shares and your condo fees.

The amount of space that you own in there as well, so that's how it's calculated.

Karl Yeh:                      

Are you saying that if you own a bigger condo you have more ... A. You probably have more fees but do you also have more say or that's ...

Karen McDonald:         

Voting factor shares, I mean [00:03:30] you would have to have like much higher, say a penthouse.

Maybe a couple of floors. You're probably going to have a little bit more voting share than somebody that has a 600 square foot single bed kind of thing, so yeah I mean, anything that's ...

It's calculated will be all be in those disclosure documents, everything that you would have as an owner, as a tenant, from your landlord as well.

Karl Yeh:                      

So if there's actual work being [00:04:00] done on your condo or the condo building itself, does that mean your maintenance fees increase?

Karen McDonald:         

It depends on what it is.

There are things that are done over time that may need to be paid for so that could be done either in an increase in fees or in something that's called a special assessment, and a special assessment is something that happens when say there's major repairs or they're say replacing all the windows or they're [00:04:30] replacing the roofs or something like that that's maintenance typically over time that needs to be updated that special assessments come in.

Or if there's something that happens, a leak in something that causes damage, then those can come around as well too.

Karl Yeh:                      

I know for example, my parents bought a condo in Harrison Hot Springs and the roofs leaked, that means all the condo owners had to essentially pay an x amount of fee to get that roof [00:05:00] fixed, right?

Karen McDonald:         

Yes, and special assessments come in that situation, right?

Karl Yeh:                       Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Karen McDonald:         

But what I think everybody should keep in mind is that these costs come in a single family home as well too and it's something that you have to take into consideration with a single family home, with any kind of home ownership, that there's going to be things that you have to repair and maintain and there's costs associated with that.

Just because it's called a special assessment in condos and multi-family living, [00:05:30] it kind of gets a bad rap for that but because it's not called something in a single family home.

So just like anything, home ownership, you have to maintain the home, costs can be associated with it.

Karl Yeh:                      

But isn't there like some sort of ... I think you've mentioned it before, a reserved fund.

Karen McDonald:          There is.

Karl Yeh:                       Doesn't that kind of cover those kind of issues?

Karen McDonald:         

Yeah, it can. Yeah, it can absolutely and depending on how much the reserve fund has built up over time.

There's [00:06:00] a certain amount that's allocated within your condo fees on a monthly basis devoted to reserve fund so over a number of years the things that need to be maintained and updated just because they're out of date or they need replacing, those a lot of the times can be taken out of the reserve fund.

But if it's something that's like a repair, a lot of the times warranties, if you're buying new, can come into that and on the special occasions, the special assessments come [00:06:30] in as well.

Karl Yeh:                       Got it. Do you have anything else to add in terms of condo maintenance?

Karen McDonald:         

I think it's just making sure that you keep in mind that these things happen with a single family home as well too.

Karl Yeh:                       Yeah.

Karen McDonald:          

Maintenance has a cost for everything. Condo fees put it in a nice little lump sum on a monthly basis and you're paying for a lifestyle that you have.

You're not out there with everybody else on a Saturday morning doing the lawn, right?

Karl Yeh:                       Got it, got it.

Karen McDonald:          Yeah.

Karl Yeh:                      

And if you want to know more [00:07:00] about condo maintenance, specifically condo fees, check out our four video playlist here as well as how to buy your first condo for the very first time. Check out that playlist here, and don't forget to subscribe to know more from the experts. Thank you and we'll catch you next time.

 

Your turn:

Let us know if you have additional condo and/or home buying related questions that we can answer by submitting them in the comments section below. 

Homebuyer's School publishes new content weekly so subscribe or check back regularly for the latest information, strategies and tips from home buying experts.  

About Karen McDonald:

This is my 12th year with Brookfield Residential.  I have been involved in 8 sites now with 7 in multi-family and 1 Single Family.  I received my certification as a New Home Sales Professional from PHBIA in 2008. 

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