As a unit owner you will be responsible for your share of expenses known as common element fees or common expenses. These are set out in the condo declaration. It describes what expenses are to be shared and in what proportion. This can be equal or unequal in cases where they are based on the comparative size of the units.
The exterior and common area maintenance of your condo is covered by your common element fee. The fees are usually paid monthly in accordance with the budgeted expenses. Of course if your condo has more amenities such as a swimming pool, on-site security personnel etc. your fees will reflect the extra services.
Reserve or contingency funds are set up by the condominium corporation to cover major or unexpected expenses. The developer of a new condominium usually sets up a fund which is then turned over to the condo corp. The fund becomes an asset of the corporation and each year the unit owners decide on what the level should be. The individual owner does not have any rights to the Reserve Fund.
Security is a key factor in choosing a condominium. The type of security will vary depending on the type of condo you choose and special care must be taken to ensure it meets your lifestyle requirements. What security features exist or are planned - suite alarms, TV surveillance, controlled access? Here are the factors you should consider or the questions you should get answers to.
Doors - Are they solid wood or metal and equipped with dead-bolts and peepholes? Do patio doors have effective locks?
Parking - how is access controlled? Electronically?
Intercom - is there a good working system?
Lighting - is property well lit in all areas - hallways, parking, fire escapes entrances and exits?
Balconies - are they accessible from the ground or adjacent units?
Mailbox - are numbers different from apartment and parking spaces?
Alarms - is there wiring for home security alarms in every unit or suite?
If possible check on the condo’s record for break-ins and vandalism by asking local authorities or current residents.
Ask Wendy to help you get the complete set of building rules and regulations. Are there any restrictions you require/don't want - pets, children, age, number of people per suite, carrying on business in a suite? Most condos have a long list of association rules and regulations by which you'll have to agree to abide if you purchase in the building. These rules may limit the number, type, and weight of pets; how many visitors you can have at any one time; how often - and for how long - you can rent out your unit (if at all); when and how you can reserve common facilities like the party room; when you can have work done in your unit; and, what day you can move.
Ask to see the past two years worth of condo board meeting minutes, as well as the last two years' of budgets and the current year's projected budget. What are the owners concerns?
Are there any large-scale improvement projects planned? How much will they cost and how are they to be funded?
Has there been a review of the reserve fund to ensure it is adequate? Is the building fiscally responsible? Are any fees/owners in arrears?
Information provided by and used with permission from RE/MAX of Western Canada