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Condominiums Are Growing In Popularity…But They Are Not Everyone’s Cup Of Tea

True as it may very well be that when our Mega City can no longer accommodate lateral real estate development, the only available option for the construction of new residential dwellings will be to go the vertical route, and that has certainly been the trend in Toronto.Condos offer a great opportunity for home ownership in the city and are a viable alternative to the hefty price tag that comes with ownership of a free standing home these days, many of which homes, in Toronto proper for example, require tens of thousands of dollars in improvements, electrical and plumbing upgrades, removal of harmful asbestos, etc. That being said, condos are not everyone’s cup of tea and it would be nice to be aware of why ahead of a legal and irreversible obligation to conclude on the purchase of one.

More often than not, purchasers of condos approach the prospects of home ownership as do purchasers of non-condo residences, after all a person’s home is a person’s castle and that person’s castle to reign within. The difference, and often to the new purchaser’s surprise, is that the condominium unit being purchased has rules to which the condo owner will be made subject, kings and queens alike.

Examples of Condo Rules Affecting Ownership

The rules and regulations of a condominium corporation impose a number of restrictions affecting an owner’s use of his or her unit including:

  • Not allowing barbeques on balconies;
  • Types of plants and other possessions that may be left out within view on a balcony;
  • Window coverings viewable from the building’s exterior;
  • Restrictions respecting interior design including the requirement to obtain the consent of management prior to replacing the floors in the unit preventing, for example, the replacement of broadloom carpet with hardwood flooring;
  • Restrictions respecting the kinds of and sizes of pets on or about the common areas;
  • Restrictions respecting the types of vehicles in the parking facilities;
  • Restrictions as far as permitted uses of one’s condo unit such as the requirement to not exceed capacity limits and not to exceed acceptable noise levels;
  • Moving of large possessions both in and out of the condominium unit which require, prior to scheduling of same, the booking of the moving elevator as large possessions cannot be transported via the regular elevators;
  • The obligation to maintain conformity with other units which would prevent, for example, the replacing of the entrance door to a particular unit from the standard white door to a mahogany stained oak door;
  • Restrictions respecting use of the common elements notwithstanding that each condo owner pays into the maintenance of same. Examples of such restrictions include but are not limited to: hours during which certain facilities are open, such as the fitness room, swimming pool, etc.; the requirement to book, sometimes with considerable time in advance, facilities such as the party or theatre room, conference room, etc.;
  • Restrictions as far as the types of improvements permitted within one’s condo unit such as the restriction against the installation of a wood burning fireplace;
  • Restrictions respecting what one may and may not store in one’s parking space and locker unit, etc.

While the foregoing is not intended to represent an exhaustive list, it does convey the basic point that the condo lifestyle comes with a fair bit of restrictions. The foregoing is also not intended to discourage the condo lifestyle as there are, arguably, as many benefits that come from owning a condo as there are restrictions associated therewith. This commentary is a caution, however, to the unacquainted prospective purchaser who will undoubtedly benefit from inquiring with his or her lawyer who, upon request, can review the rules and regulations of a condo corporation, in addition to the standard practice of reviewing an updated status certificate, prior to waiving the standard condition on the solicitor’s approval of the condo documentation in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and is not intended, nor is it to be relied upon as a substitute to obtaining legal advice.

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