What Exactly Do Condo Fees Cover?

With a boom in condominium construction over the past several years, the discussion surrounding new condo owners’ associated fees is a common one. Do these additional monthly fees range from old to new buildings and from neighbourhood to neighbourhood? In short, yes.

Generally calculated based on unit size, your monthly condo fee is your percentage share of the cost it takes to run the building. This includes such things as utilities, window washing, garden maintenance, snow removal, security/concierge, parking, etc. A percentage of this will be allocated to a contingency fund, reserved for unforeseen issues with the building such as roof, heating or plumbing repairs. Your building’s management is, by law, a not-for-profit company and therefore fees collected must cover building maintenance and contingencies, and not a penny more.

In certain buildings, utilities can be controlled and calculated on a per unit basis, in this case, condo fees cover common maintenance only. Your building’s amenities package also contributes to your monthly cost and fees will vary based on whether you have access to things like a gym, pool, rooftop patio, 24-hour security, or indoor parking. As you can certainly imagine, a building with a variety of amenities is more costly to run. That being said, new buildings tend to have lower condo fees than older buildings as their recent construction is often much more efficient.

The idea is for fees to remain on par with what it would cost you to own a home of a similar size, price range, and neighbourhood. Toronto condo fees average between $0.50 and $0.70 per square foot. The per square foot total is an important calculation to pay attention to. If you’re comparing two or more buildings when looking to purchase a condo, always ask for a list of services that condo fees cover to aide in your decision.

In some buildings, it is possible to opt-out of certain services (eg. parking), however it’s always good to keep your re-sale value in mind. Even if you don’t require a parking space, it will likely be an attractive feature when the time comes to sell.

Beware of pre-construction condos that offer monthly fees much below $0.50 as there have been reports of builders setting rates low in year one to entice buyers, and then subsequently raising fees significantly in years two, three and four. That said, it is absolutely normal and expected for your building to re-visit the maintenance budget each year and adjust your fees accordingly.

Questions to Ask When Buying a Condo…

Before buying a condo, be sure to ask yourself:

• What are the unit boundaries?

• What will my maintenance obligations be?

• What management style is being used, and am I comfortable with it?

• What are the rules regarding the allowable number of occupants, noise, pets, amenities, parking, etc., and how are these upheld?

• Can I alter my unit’s appearance? If I want to change something, what procedure do I have to follow to get permission?

• Does the condominium corporation have the minimum insurance required by my provincial or territorial legislation?

• What will my insurance obligations be?

What Insurance Will I need on my Condominium?

Both the unit owner and the condominium

corporation must have insurance. Specific

insurance requirements vary from province

to province.


The corporation may be responsible for insuring:


• Common areas and units;

• The corporation’s property, such as

furniture, equipment, vehicles, etc.;

• Personal liability—against claims for

bodily injury and/or property damage

occurring on the condominium property

or caused by some act or omission of the

condominium corporation;

• Boilers and equipment (for example,

elevators, HVAC systems, etc.);

• Directors and officers insurance—to

respond to claims made personally against

a director or officer of the condominium;

• All perils as per the condominium

governing documents.

The unit owner may be responsible for insuring:


• Personal property contents such as

appliances, furniture and jewelry,

and items stored in lockers.

• Improvements and betterments made

to the unit (for example, finishing

a basement, installing new cabinets).

Check your provincial legislation to find

out if insurance for improvements is your


• Personal liability.

Above material extracted from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation website. For more information please visit

Who Takes Care of the Building and Grounds of a Condominium?

Most condominium corporations contract-out

the day-to-day operations of the condominium

to a property management company under

the direction of the condominium’s board

of directors. The cleaning of common

areas, payment of common area utility bills,

operation and maintenance of the central

space and domestic hot water heating and

air-conditioning systems, snow and garbage

removal and the collection of monthly

maintenance fees may fall under the

jurisdiction of the property manager. There

are usually limits to the property manager’s

authority. For example, anything that requires

a major expenditure, or an expenditure not

accounted for in the annual budget, may have

to be approved by the board of directors. The

property manager is not usually responsible

for items or operational problems within

individual units, unless they are related to

the common elements (e.g., heating systems,

roofs, windows, exterior walls).

Some condominiums prefer to deal with

the management of daily maintenance

themselves. These are sometimes referred to

as “self-managed” condominiums. Under this

management style, the board of directors—

and in some cases, volunteers who are residents

or owners—will carry out the day-to-day

tasks of operating the condominium.

It is important when considering the purchase

of a particular condominium,

to ensure you are comfortable with the

management style, whether it is a contract

property manager or self-managed. This may

have implications on both condominium fees

and any obligations you may have towards

the operation and maintenance of the


The condominium unit owner is responsible

for some maintenance duties and the

condominium corporation for others. These

responsibilities vary from condominium to

condominium and should be clearly laid out

in the condominium’s governing documents.


Maintenance duties for the unit owner can




• Internal unit plumbing, appliances,

heating, air-conditioning or electrical

systems that are contained in and serve

only that unit;

• Cleaning window surfaces that

are accessible from inside the unit;

• Cleaning some parts of the common

elements, such as balconies and patios that

are assigned to or exclusive use of, the

unit holder.


Maintenance duties for the condominium


corporation can include:


• Common plumbing, electrical and heating

and air-conditioning systems;

• Roof and wall repairs;

• Windows and doors—repairs and


• Grounds cutting, watering;

• Recreational amenities;

• Parking areas;

• Any other part of the property that

is not part of a unit.

Sometimes the responsibility for maintenance

and repair can be shared. For example, a

heating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system

may be part of the common elements, but the

unit owner may be responsible for some tasks,

such as changing filters.

Above material extracted from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. For more information please visit

What Rules and Restrictions Might I Encounter in a Condominium?

Every condominium is governed by its

own unique rules, regulations and bylaws.

These may be very strict or very relaxed

depending on the nature of the condominium

corporation. These are necessary to ensure

that condominiums are properly operated

and maintained and to define the rights

and obligations of the individual owners.

With respect to rules regarding the individual

owners, condominiums may have restrictions

regarding the number of occupants per

unit, pets, noise, parking and when certain

amenities may be used.

Many condominiums have strict rules

concerning the alteration of the unit space or

its appearance. For example, the condominium

corporation may require all the exterior

doors of units to be the same colour to keep

the architectural and community aspect of

the condominium intact. Additionally, you

may have to get the permission from the

condominium’s board of directors before you

change exterior fixtures or install a satellite

dish, especially as some changes may affect

the condominium structure or safety.

Noise is an important consideration,

especially for people moving from a

single-family dwelling to a multi-unit

condominium. Many condominiums have

rules regarding what noise levels will be

tolerated and at what hours. For example,

if you are hosting a party in your unit, you

may be asked to turn the music down at

a specific hour. You may wish to clarify the

rules regarding noise, and if possible, talk to

current residents about any noise problems

they have experienced in the past and how

they were handled.

Individual condominium owners may be

obliged to attend condominium meetings

or serve on condominium boards and

committees. Almost all condominiums have

requirements for the payment of monthly

condominium fees. There can also be

mandatory charges for unforeseen repairs

to the condominium common elements.

Be sure to carefully review and consider all

rules and obligations when considering the

purchase of a condominium. They should

be available from the unit’s vendor (the

seller), the property manager or the board of

directors. The rules of the condominium

will be clearly outlined in the condominium

governing documents, and you should

become familiar with them prior to

purchasing a particular condominium unit.

While the rules and regulations of

condominiums may initially seem to be

overly strict, particularly to those used to

rental housing or owning their own home,

they help to ensure that condominiums are

safe and enjoyable communities to live in for

all concerned.

Above material extracted from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation website. For more information please visit

What Do I Own When I Buy a Condo?

When you buy a condominium, you own your unit, as well as a percentage of the common property elements allocated to the unit. The boundaries of each individual unit and the percentage of common elements you own may vary from condominium to condominium, depending on how they are specified in the condominium’s governing documents. Sometimes, the unit boundary can be at the backside of the interior drywall of the unit’s dividing walls. Alternatively, the unit boundary can be the centre line of the unit’s walls. The boundaries of your condominium unit are an important consideration at the time of purchase— particularly if alterations and renovations are a potential part of your purchase plan.

The unit typically includes any equipment, systems, finishes, etc. that are contained only in the individual unit. The right to use one or more parking spots and storage areas may be included. While you may have exclusive access to parking spot or storage area, you seldom actually own the space itself.

For a freehold condominium (or a bare/vacant land condominium), the unit may be the entire house including the exterior walls, the roof and in some cases, the land surrounding the structure. Prior to making a purchase, you may wish to hire a professional surveyor to review the site plan for the condominium corporation so you know exactly where your unit’s boundaries lay.

Components of building systems that serve more than one unit, such as structural elements and mechanical and electrical services, are often considered part of the common property elements, particularly when they are located outside of the unit boundaries specified in the condominium’s governing documents.

There may be some parts of the condominium complex that are called “exclusive use common property elements.”

They are outside the unit boundaries, but are for the exclusive use of the owner of a particular unit. Balconies, parking spaces, storage lockers, driveways and front or rear lawn areas are common examples of exclusive use common property elements. It is important to be aware of any exclusive use common property elements before you make an offer to purchase a condominium. While these spaces are exclusive to your use, there may be restrictions on how and when you use them. For instance, you may not be able to park a boat, RV or commercial vehicle in your assigned parking spot. There may also be restrictions on what you can place on your balcony.

Above material extracted from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation website. For more information please visit

What Are The Types of Condominiums?

Residential condominiums can be:

1) high-rise or low-rise (under four storeys)

2) town or row houses

3) duplexes (one unit over another)

4) triplexes (stack of three units)

5) single-detached houses

6) stacked townhouses or freehold plots

There are even mixed-use condominiums that are partly residential and partly commercial buildings. They come in various sizes with diverse features and they can be found in almost every price range.

Above material extracted from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. For more information please visit

What is a Condominium?

A “condominium” refers to a form of
legal ownership, as opposed to a style of
construction. Condominiums are most often
thought of as high-rise residential buildings,
but this form of ownership can also apply to
townhouse complexes, individual houses and
low-rise residential buildings. Condominiums
are also known as strata in British Columbia
or syndicates of co-ownership in Quebec.
Condominiums consist of two parts. The first
part is a collection of private dwellings called
“units.” Each unit is owned by and registered
in the name of the purchaser of the unit.
The second part consists of the common
elements of the building that may include
lobbies, hallways, elevators, recreational
facilities, walkways, gardens, etc. Common
elements may also include structural elements
and mechanical and electrical services.
The ownership of these common elements
is shared amongst the individual unit owners,
as is the cost for their operation, maintenance
and ongoing replacement.
Each unit owner has an undivided interest
in the common elements of the building.
This ownership interest is often referred to
as a “unit factor.” The unit factor for any
particular unit will generally be calculated in
proportion to the value that the unit has in
relation to the total value of all of the units
in the condominium corporation. The unit
factor will tell you what your ownership
percentage is in the common elements and
will be used in calculating the monthly fees
that you must pay towards their upkeep and
The creation of a condominium is regulated
by provincial or territorial condominium
legislation and municipal guidelines. It can
be created in many different ways. In some
provinces, a developer, or other interested
parties, may register a declaration to create a
condominium, while in others, an application
may be made to have title issued for the
units pursuant to an “approved plan
of condominium.” The operation of
condominiums is also governed by provincial
or territorial legislation and the condominium
corporation’s own declaration, bylaws and
Once a condominium corporation has been
established, a board of directors, elected by,
and generally made up of, the individual
condominium owners, takes responsibility for
the management of the corporation’s business
affairs. There is usually a turnover meeting
where this transfer of responsibility takes
place. Each unit owner has voting rights at
meetings. Your voting rights will generally
be in proportion to your unit factor.

All above material extracted from Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. For more information please visit