We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding property management companies, hiring a property manager, and related topics for your convenience. Should you require answers to more specific questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Pivotal Property Management.
What is a condominium?
A condominium is a form of real property ownership that has two distinct parts: you own your condominium unit to which you get a title, and you also jointly own common property with the other unit owners in your complex.
Owning a condominium is not the same as renting an apartment where all the duties and responsibilities of running the building are handled by the building owner and caretaker. In a condominium complex, ownership responsibilities belong to you and all the other unit owners in your condominium corporation.
What is a Board of Directors?
Every condominium corporation has a board of directors elected by the owners to carry out the corporation’s responsibilities. The bylaws outline how many directors sit on the board, how often they are elected, and if there are any eligibility requirements.
Directors are volunteers who agree to take on the responsibility of running the condominium for at least one term. Two thirds of the members of the board must be unit owners or mortgagees, unless otherwise stated in the bylaws. The board conducts its business by holding regular meetings, usually monthly. The board must report to the owners at annual general meetings or extraordinary general meetings.
Each director has the responsibility to act honestly and in good faith in exercising the power and in discharging the duties of the board. Every director must declare any conflict of interest and not vote on matters that may involve a conflict.
It is important to remember that the board of directors must make decisions in the best interests of the entire corporation and all the owners, which will sometimes conflict with what individual owners might want to do.
What are bylaws?The bylaws regulate the corporation, providing control, management and administration of the corporation. The owners of the units and anyone in possession of a unit are bound by the regulations of the bylaws. If there is a conflict between the bylaws and the Condominium Property Act, the Act prevails and overwrites the regulations in the bylaws.
Can bylaws be changed?Changes to bylaws can only be made at a properly convened special meeting that is attended by 75% and 7,500/10,000 unit factors within a corporation and the special resolution to change the bylaws needs a majority vote.
What are condo fees?
The condominium corporation needs money to meet its financial obligations – paying for insurance premiums, snow removal, grass cutting, repairs to common property, reserve fund, etc. The main source of income for the corporation is the money paid by the owners in their condominium contributions (often referred to as a condo fee).
Contributions are normally set annually and paid monthly, however the board can levy special assessments (one or more lump sums) if the corporation needs to raise extra funds to meet its obligations.
The board sets contributions by taking into consideration the budgeted needs of the corporation and the unit factors (for each unit). Corporations can change the formula for allocating condominium contributions, if the owners pass a special resolution to amend the bylaws
Why does my neighbour pay a different amount in condo fees?
The unit factor identifies your portion of the joint ownership of the common property. The developer assigns a unit factor to every condominium unit when registering the condominium plan. The sum total of the unit factors for all the units in a condominium plan is 10,000. Developers must disclose how they set the unit factor.
It is important to know the unit factor assigned to your unit because it will affect your condominium contributions and your voting rights.
What happens if I don’t pay my condo fees?
A condominium corporation has the right to collect unpaid condominium contributions.
- The corporation can ask the owner’s mortgage company to pay the outstanding amounts and add it to the owner’s mortgage
- Require an owner’s tenant to pay the monthly rent to the corporation to cover the unpaid condominium contributions
- File a caveat against the title to the unit at the owner’s expense
- Charge interest (up to 18% per year on outstanding amounts)
- Sue the owner for all outstanding contributions, interest and its full legal fees; and
- Foreclose on the title to the unit
Do I need my own insurance?
Insurance on the entire structure of the condominium complex is the responsibility of the condominium corporation. (This is not always the case for bare land complexes.) The corporation must have replacement cost value insurance on the property for all perils covered by standard insurance policies. Check the policy for exclusions. There must also be insurance for any liability incurred by the board or corporation when carrying out their duties and responsibilities.
You will need to buy your own insurance to cover your personal property, personal liability, and perhaps any changes made to your unit. Check the bylaws to see if unit improvements are covered under the corporation’s policy. Ask your insurance agent or broker for more information.
Can I change the exterior aspects of my condo?
Depending on the type of condo you live in and the bylaws therein, you may have the right to use defined areas of the common property called exclusive-use areas with private access and use of, (i.e. the carport, parking stall or balcony next to the unit). These areas may be identified on the condominium plan or defined in the corporation’s bylaws. The corporation retains the control of these areas.
Check the bylaws to see what exclusive-use areas you can access and what your responsibilities are for those areas (e.g. maintenance). You need to know if you are entitled to the exclusive use of these areas, if the area is shared with the other unit owners and if you are you allowed to make any improvements to these areas.
Can I change the interior aspects of my condo?
Altering non-structural, cosmetic, aspects of the interior of your condo is perfectly fine and you don’t need permission to do so. Changing anything that may affect the units around you might require permission from the Board; ie electrical wiring, plumbing, load-bearing walls, anything that will protrude to the exterior such as vent lines or exhaust lines.
If you’re not sure, it’s best to contact your Board, in writing, outlining your intentions and to request permission. Failure to get permission in writing could result in the reversal of the work you performed or the upgrade you did.
Can I rent my unit?
If you want to rent your unit to someone else, you must inform the corporation in writing of your intent, your future address, and the amount of the monthly rent. You must name your tenant in writing to the corporation within 20 days after the tenancy starts.
The corporation may require that you pay a deposit that could be used to repair or replace common property damaged by your tenant. The amount of the deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent.
If you do not pay your condominium contributions, the corporation can direct the tenant to pay all or part of the rent to the corporation to cover your unpaid condominium contributions.
The tenant is bound by the bylaws of the corporation. If your tenant contravenes the bylaws or damages the common property or the corporation’s property, the corporation can ask you to evict the tenant. It can also give the tenant and you the notice directly.
What is an Annual General Meeting (AGM)?
Once every year, an annual general meeting of the owners is held. An annual AGM must be scheduled within 15 months of the preceding AGM. Subject to the regulations, The Corporation, in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, prepare financial statements for The Corporation’s preceding fiscal year and distribute copies of the financial statements and the annual budget to each of the owners.
What is a Reserve Fund?
The Condominium Property Act requires that condominium corporations establish and maintain a capital replacement reserve fund to provide for major repairs and replacement of property and common property owned by the corporation. As buildings age they need to be repaired and maintained e.g. the roof of the complex needs to be replaced. The same is true of other parts of the common property such as the asphalt in the parking lot, underground utilities, or services and landscaping.
Condominium owners must pay for the repair or replacement costs of the property owned by the corporation. The reserve fund is not used for repairs or replacements that are done annually.
Reserve fund studies must be conducted every five years.
The Act gives the board the responsibility and power to make decisions around the reserve fund. Although a responsible board will provide information to and obtain input from the owners, it need not consult the owners before making decisions on the reserve fund.
*This is intended to provide general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice.
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