Buying and Owning a Condominium in Alberta

Those who want to downsize or are buying their first piece of real estate should consider purchasing a condominium.

When you own a condo, you and the other owners share joint ownership of units within a property in an apartment complex. As such, you are responsible for maintaining and operating the building. While this might not be ideal for everyone, young adults and retirees often opt for a condominium because of the sizing of the individual units. 

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If you are thinking of buying a condo, or own one of these properties already, you should consider the following.

Be aware of your rights.

As a condominium owner, you are part of the condominium corporation, a legal body that identifies all of the owners of the condo units. As a member of this corporation, you have the right to vote in matters that are pertinent to the building and its maintenance. More importantly, you have the right to vote for new condo board members and can also vote on what funding is spent on.

You have the right to access common areas within the complex and have the right to access information on the condo’s management or administration team. You also have the right to resolve disputes with the condo corporation, board, or other owners through mediation, arbitration, or court action. That means you can legally challenge any misconduct from any of these entities.

Be aware of your responsibilities.

Being informed of the condo board’s general and board meetings is your responsibility. You are also responsible for being knowledgeable of the budget and financial statements. How else will you stay informed of the goings-on in your condo building? That’s why it’s also important that you inform the board of any circumstances that might affect funding or other decisions. You must also express your views, provide feedback upon request, and put any complaints or concerns in writing to the board for follow up.

Maintaining your unit and any exclusive use common property falls under your list of responsibilities, too. You must also obtain insurance on your unit and your own belongings and pay all condominium contributions and assessments on time. Failure to pay on time could result in the condo corporation charging you interest or suing you for the money owed. It also strips you of some of your rights as an owner.

Understand how reserve funds are used.  

A percentage of your condo fees goes towards a reserve fund. These funds are primarily used for major repairs and property replacement; not for annual repairs.   

Before they can use the money in this fund, the condo board must consult with you and the other tenants. Despite this, the board has sole responsibility and power on how the reserve fund is used. So, if you have any reservations on how they plan on using this money, speak up when they consult you.   

The board must keep the reserve fund in a separate trust fund, so that the corporation can meet the statutory requirements. It is their responsibility to maintain the monetary amount at an appropriate level.

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Before you sign the dotted line, make sure to read the fine print. It’s true that when you’re first looking into buy a condominium other factors such as location and building reputation are important, but you must be aware of the fact that there are several legal factors to consider when you buy a condominium in this province.

Understanding your rights and responsibilities and understanding the building’s reserve fund plan will take the guesswork out of living in a condominium.

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