You’ll want to be crystal clear about the following special considerations when making an offer on a condo unit:
A condominium’s declaration sets forth fundamental information about how the condominium is organized and operated, such as the proportion in which owners are to contribute to the common expenses, and it may have restrictions on pets, home-based businesses, what can go on a balcony and many other issues. (Some provinces don’t use the term “declaration;” instead this “constituting” document is included as part of the condominium “plan.”)
A declaration can be difficult to change so you’ll want to read it over very carefully to ensure that it does not contain unacceptable terms or restrictions
Find out exactly where your unit ends and the common property begins. Is the door to your home part of your unit, for example, or is it part of the common elements?
You should have a good look at the condominium’s plan so you know precisely what you’ll be responsible for maintaining.
For more information on unit boundaries, see Where are my unit’s boundaries.
Your unit factor (sometimes called “proportionate share” or “percentage of ownership”) tells you what percentage of the condominium’s common property you own.
It’s a key piece of information because it determines how much you will pay in monthly maintenance fees and sometimes your voting rights.
You’ll find your unit factor listed in the condominium’s declaration (or other governing documents, depending on where you live). Don’t expect it to be equal to your neighbour’s, but it should at least be similar to those of other units that are comparable in size and location.
Your unit factor is usually based on the size and location of your unit. Before you buy, verify what your unit factor will be with your lawyer. For more information on unit factors, see How are my voting rights determined?
A portion of your condo fees will likely go toward the building’s reserve fund. (Your province or territory may have another name for this, such as contingency fund or capital replacement reserve fund.)
A reserve fund ensures that the condominium has enough money to pay for the major repair and replacement of the common elements over the life of the building.
These may include the roof, roads, sewers, sidewalks, elevators, plumbing and other building systems. For more information on reserve funds, see Is there enough money in the reserve fund?
New condominiums are often protected by third-party new home warranty programs.
Warranty programs ensure that the condo is properly constructed and meets building specifications.
If you’re buying a new condominium, find out what is and is not covered by the warranty.
If you’re purchasing a resale condominium, find out what warranty coverage remains on the unit, if any.
For more information on home warranties, see How do new home warranties work?
There are special considerations when insuring a condo as opposed to other forms of housing tenure.
You’ll want to check that your individual unit and the condominium corporation as a whole are sufficiently insured.