Finding housing solutions is on top of mind in Wellington County, as is evidenced in their Live Here campaign. That means more multi-home facilities like apartments and condominiums will be on the horizon. Condos can be a simple solution for homebuyers looking to downsize or start out on their homeownership journey, but there can also be some questions when looking at condos. Let’s remove some mystery around condo fees.
What are Condo Fees?
Unless a developer has specifically said “no condo fees”, anyone purchasing a condo should be prepared to pay a monthly fee. Condo fees vary with prices depending on the size of a building as a whole, the size of the unit purchased, how many amenities are in the building and whether it covers all utilities or just some.
What Do the Fees Cover?
As was mentioned above, condo fees vary, but you can generally expect the condo fees to cover common areas. That’s parking lots, hallways, lobbies, elevators, and any amenities like an exercise room or a games room. Condo fees will also include insurance, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have homeowners’ insurance for yourself!
What About a Reserve Fund?
A reserve fund is just that: a reserve. A portion of the monthly condo fees is reserved for larger ticket repair items, like a roof, a boiler unit, or exterior repair. Condo owners will be made aware of these upgrades in a general meeting, or other forms of communication.
While condo boards create a yearly budget and plan for large repairs that would come out of a reserve fund, the unfortunate thing is that shortfalls can occur, or that larger repair expenses can creep in. When that happens, owners must be prepared for a “special assessment.” Condo owners should be aware of lower-than-average condo costs. While it might look great at the outset, it’s more likely for owners to have to deal with special assessments because the budget is not properly created or maintained.
Can I negotiate my Condo Fee?
Condo fees are non-negotiable. Owners that have a larger unit in a building may have a larger portion of condo fees to pay compared to an owner of a smaller unit. In Wellington County, and in Ontario, there is no limit on condo fee increases. While there is a Condominium Act, that Act does not say anything about increasing ceilings. Condo owners do have a say, as they sit on the condo board and have voting rights.
Are Condo Fees Tax Deductible?
If the condo is being used as a rental property, then owners can deduct the fees that represent the owner’s share of the upkeep.
What is a Freehold Townhouse and Why Don’t They Pay Condo Fees?
Another name for a freehold townhouse is a row house. It has the same features as a detached house, but it has houses attached on both sides. Because it boasts the features of a detached house, there are no condo fees because there are no common areas. They are on a public road, and the owner is responsible for all maintenance, utilities, etc.
As Wellington County explores different options for housing units, there will be more and more opportunities for new condo buildings, condo boards as well as renting and buying options. Knowing the questions to ask, and what to expect when you ask those questions will be important to know if you’ve found a condo that has everything you’ll need in a home.
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