The purchase of condominium property is one of the most complex legal transactions the majority of people will ever undertake. In addition to the normal issues involved in purchasing a traditional home, condominiums are governed by internal rules and have additional financial disclosure requirements, that prospective purchasers must be aware of.
Purchasing a condominium unit means that you are buying not only living space in the condominium complex, but you are also acquiring a share in what is referred to as the “common property” of the project. The common property is, simply stated, that part of a condominium complex which is not part of a living unit. The common property is the part of the entire project that is owned by all of the unit owners, as a group.
The maintenance and upkeep of the common property is managed and directed by the Board of Directors of the condominium corporation. This maintenance is funded by the collection of condominium fees from all of the owners, in proportion to their shares in the common property. The Board of Directors is mandated to manage the common property for the common benefit of all of the owners, and in accordance with a budget which is prepared annually.
The Board of Directors also administers the condominium’s Capital Replacement Reserve Fund (the “Reserve Fund”), which is a fund set aside to replace major capital items, such as roofs, elevators, and exterior siding, to name only a few, in the project. The amount required to be held in the Reserve Fund is based on an engineering report (the “Reserve Study”), repeated every five years, which examines the building and predicts when major items will need to be replaced. The engineering study will also include a projected budget, which is the Board of Directors guide to set funds aside toward these capital replacement expenses.
All condominium owners must comply with the bylaws of the condominium corporation, as registered at the Land Titles Office, and which are the rules that govern the relationship between all of the owners in the project. In addition, the bylaws set out how the common property is to be used by all of the owners and any rights, or restrictions, on that use. Further, if the unit is rented, the tenants are also bound by the bylaws and the owner of the unit is ultimately responsible to ensure that the tenants comply with those bylaws.
The day-to-day operation of the condominium complex is often done by professional condominium management company, who is hired the by Board of Directors. The management company carries out the Board’s instructions and reports to, and advises, the Board of Directors from time to time.
Condominium corporations are required, by law, to keep records of their owner’s annual meetings, the Board of Directors meetings and their financial reports. Those minutes and financial records must be made available to any owner in the project who requests copies.
When purchasing a condominium unit, it is imperative that all of the relevant reports and supporting materials, including the bylaws, be reviewed by a prospective owner. These documents will provide an insight into the operations of the project, and any problems with specific units in the complex. In addition, condominium documents include the rules and regulations by which the project is governed, and present a picture of the financial status of the condominium. A prospective owner should have these documents reviewed by a professional with expertise in these matters, such as the lawyers at Cameron Horne Law Office, as a condition of purchasing a unit.
A standard real estate purchase contract provides for a list of condominium documents which must be provided to a potential purchaser. These documents include, amongst other things: a copy of the registered condominium plan; the current registered bylaws; copies of the minutes of the most recent owner’s meeting and copies of the minutes of Board meetings for at least the past year; the most recent financial statement; the most recent Reserve Study; and a copy of the current condominium budget. It is important to have these documents reviewed to ensure that all of the required documents have been provided, and that they provide a picture of the state of the project which is satisfactory to the buyer, prior to committing to purchase the unit.
Our office assists prospective condominium purchasers with the review and assessment of the condominium project, and provides a concise and comprehensive assessment of the status of the project. We work with you, to address your concerns and to discuss the issues surrounding condominium ownership. In particular, we address issues which may be of specific concern to potential owners, such as permission for pets or satellite dishes, age restrictions, and other permitted use of the common property. We also assist our clients to complete the purchase by providing real estate conveyancing services to close the transaction. Real Estate Transactions page
We would be pleased to provide you with a fee quotation to complete a review of condominium documents and to complete the purchase of your condominium.