Condominiums can be an excellent option for individuals seeking to become a homeowner with fewer maintenance and repair responsibilities, while enjoying the convenience of on-site amenities and enhanced safety features. Whether you own, live in, or are thinking about purchasing a condominium, it is important to understand how the Condominium Act of Ontario may impact your rights.
This blog post will provide an overview of the Condominium Act of Ontario and will provide relevant information and considerations for both new and prospective condominium owners.
What is a Condominium?
The term “condominium” is often associated with high-rise apartment buildings housing many units. However, while the terms “condominium” and “apartment” are often used interchangeably, there are key differences between these types of dwellings.
The main difference between condominiums and apartments is ownership. Apartment buildings are typically owned by one company with each unit rented out to a separate tenant. Condominiums, on the other hand, contain several units with various owners who either live in them, or rent them out.
In a condominium, a condominium corporation manages the condominium building and is led by a council of owners. The condominium council is responsible for managing many of the day-to-day affairs of the condominium.
What is a Condominium Corporation?
A condominium corporation (also referred to as a “condominium authority”) is a corporation designated to manage a condominium building. The condominium corporation is responsible for managing several aspects of a condominium building, including: Creating and managing the condominium corporation’s budget;
- Making decisions relating to budget use, including hiring contractors and maintenance services;
- Ensuring that condominium maintenance and repairs are carried out; and
- Governance, including changes to the condominium corporation’s rules and bylaws and providing notice to owners.
What is the Condominium Act?
The Condominium Act of Ontario governs most aspects of how condominiums are created and how they operate. The Condominium Act also outlines ownership of condominiums, including the sale and lease of units.
How the Condominium Act Applies to Owners
It is imperative that condominium owners have a general understanding of how the Condominium Act may impact their rights and responsibilities, some of which are detailed below.
Condominium owners are entitled to exclusive ownership and use of their unit. For the “common elements” of a condominium, which typically include areas like lobbies, elevators, and storage rooms, owners are “tenants in common”, meaning that they have a share of interest in the common space.
Owners are entitled to use the condominium’s common elements and other amenities, so long as they comply with the Condominium Act and their condominium’s specific bylaws and rules.
Voting and Participating in Condominium Governance
Condominium owners have the right to attend and vote at condominium owners’ meetings. If desired, condominium owners may choose to run for election on their condominium council.
Paying Condominium Fees
Condominium owners are required to pay monthly condominium fees. These fees are paid to the condominium corporation to fund various necessary services, including:
- maintaining a reserve fund;
- general maintenance;
- condominium insurance (in addition to unit-specific insurance); and
- property management (if the condominium uses a property management service).
Condominium fees can vary significantly between condominiums.
Complying with the Condominium Act and Condominium Bylaws and Rules
Condominium owners are expected to comply with the Condominium Act of Ontario, along with any additional governing documents applicable to the condominium, including bylaws and rules.
Dispute Resolution for Condominium Owners in Ontario
Like other real estate dealings, disputes can arise within condominiums. If a condominium owner finds themself in a condominium-related dispute, either with neighbours or with the condominium corporation, the Condominium Authority Tribunal can help resolve the issue.
The Condominium Authority Tribunal is an online dispute resolution system that handles disputes regarding a wide variety of issues, ranging from a condominium corporation’s governing documents (including access to records) to nuisances and the use of common property.
The Condominium Authority Tribunal Process
Cases with the Condominium Authority Tribunal are typically commenced through an online application. After the case has been opened, the involved parties will be notified and the Condominium Authority Tribunal will encourage the parties to resolve the issue through negotiation and mediation.
If the parties cannot resolve their dispute, they will attend an online Condominium Authority Tribunal hearing where the Condominium Authority Tribunal will make a decision on the matter.
To learn more about the Condominium Authority Tribunal, the types of disputes covered, and how to start a case, visit the Condominium Authority Tribunal website.
Considerations for Prospective Condominium Owners
If you are thinking about buying a condominium in Ontario, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with the Condominium Act, along with any governing documents created by the condominium corporation. Some key considerations for new or prospective condominium owners might include:
- familiarity with condominium owners’ rights and responsibilities under the Condominium Act of Ontario;
- obtaining copies of the condominium corporation’s bylaws, rules, and other governing documents to determine whether title to the unit includes a parking spot or storage locker, restrictions on pets, and any other relevant rules; and
- consideration of the status of the condominium’s reserve fund and whether special assessment levies have arisen in the past as a healthy reserve fund is key and can provide insights into the financial health of the condominium corporation.
The Lawyers at Campbells LLP in Oakville Represent Buyers and Sellers in Residential Real Estate Transactions
If you are looking to become a homeowner, or downsize to a condo, the experienced real estate lawyers at Campbells LLP will guide you through every step of the process. Our residential real estate team will review all relevant paperwork and contracts, negotiate on your behalf, and ensure that your interests are protected in the event of a property dispute.
Whether you are buying or selling a property, we provide a vast range of legal services to meet your real estate needs. To speak with one of our experienced team members, reach out to us online or call us at 905-828-2247.