To make any changes, add something to or modify the common elements, The Condominium Act requires you to get permission from the Condominium Corporation. Which means the Board of Directors.
To protect the Corporation and yourself this is done in writing. You make a request in writing, and the Board replies in writing. Often restrictions are put in place, and it is stated who is responsible for maintaining and repairing the change in the future.
So before running off to install a satellite dish, make a flower/kitchen garden or install a privacy fence, be sure to check with your Property Manager and Condominium Board. Most of the time the answer is NO.
They are specified in the Declaration of the Condo Corporation, and are areas of the common elements used exclusively by only one owner or a group of owners that live adjacent to that common element. In the case of one owner, it could be a balcony, patio, backyard or frontyard. In the case of several owners, it may be use of a certain lawn, while other owners have use of a different lawn.
They are areas of the Condominium complex that are repaired and maintained by the Condominium Corporation. They are defined by the Declaration and will be different in a high rise building compared to a townhouse complex.
They are owned by all unit owners, and may consist of a playground, swimming pool, roadways, gazebo, lawns, walkways, a gymnasium, security system, elevators, roofs, garbage rooms, fire alarm system, lobbies, party room, garages, etc.
A Status Certificate summarizes the financial and legal health of a Condominium Corporation and indicates if any financial increases will be passed on to unit owners in the near future. The information is comprehensive and comes with several attached / included documents.
If you are buying a re-sale property one of the best things you can do for yourself is order a status certificate (previously called Estoppel Certificate) of the Condominium Corporation in which you intend to buy. You do not have to own a condominium in the Corporation. However, you are required to pay around $100.00 for this document.
Status Certificates are typically ordered from the Property Management Company of that Corporation. Once they receive a written request and your $100.00 (paid to the Management Company) they have 10 days (includes weekends) to get the Status Certificate ready. Ensure you order it well ahead of any deadlines you need to meet.
In this type of condominium, the Condominium Corporation is not responsible for the up keep of any houses/units. It is only responsible for the common elements which may consists of adjoining land, roadways, playgrounds, street lights, etc.
The houses/units themselves are built on a parcel of tied/titled land (POTL). In other words the land each house/unit sits on is owned by the home owner and is tied to the common elements land the corporation is responsible for. On the common elements land the corporation is responsible for, sits roadways, playgrounds, street lights, etc. that everyone in the complex shares.
All Condominiums in Ontario are governed by the Condominium Act of 1998. It came into law May 5, 2001. Each province and territory has its own legislation regarding Condominiums.
The Condominium Act is very detailed and covers every aspect of Condominium living. What to do if an owner does not pay the monthly maintenance fee? How much money to put aside to repair aging property? What procedure to follow if you want to make changes to the common elements? Etc.
It requires all owners and residents of a Condominium Corporation to adhere to it and establishes clear procedures and guidelines for directors, owners and property managers to follow. This facilitates the smooth running of a Condominium Corporation.
The declaration is a legal document that is more specific to your particular Condominium Corporation, and on its registration a new Condominium Corporation is “born” and is given a number like TSCC (Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation) XXXX and PSCC (Peel Standard Condominium Corporation) XXXX.
It tells you what you can do inside and outside of your unit, and if you can have pets. It explains what the Corporation repairs and what you are responsible for and lists what you have exclusive use of. This may include a patio, balcony, and parking space. Most importantly it spells out what percentage of the common element fees you are responsible for. This in turn determines your monthly maintenance fees.
It is important that you read the declaration. It will explain the boundaries of the unit (Schedule C), as well as who is responsible for what maintenance. These can be found in various places of the declaration and not necessarily in one place.
Each Condominium starts out with a standard set of by-laws and with time owners can modify or add to them. They spell out:
- The duties of the board of directors
- How owner’s meetings are called, for what reasons and how often.
- Who votes and who cannot, and what is required of a person if they are going to seek position.
- If there is fire or water damage, who is responsible for which repairs.
- And so on.
Tarion has been in operation for over 30 years to protect buyers of new Condominiums from builders. This they do by licensing and regulating Ontario’s builders.
Once you know the builder of the Condominium you are interested in buying from, visit the Tarion’s website at http://www.tarion.com and explore their Licensed Builder Directory to learn more about the builder’s history and track record. Check if there are any claims against the builder. You can also call Tarion at 1-877-9TARION with any questions.
Be sure to check with existing owners on the Builder’s customer service record, and their compliance and response time with warranty repairs before buying.