Want to opt out of condo fees? Here’s what you need to know

January 4th, 2019 - by UrbanCondo Team

confused man outside condo

Condo fees, oh condo fees – you literally can’t live in a condo building without ‘em. After all, if no one paid for the shared spaces and common elements within the building, wouldn’t the building as a whole cease to exist?

Okay, enough prose. Let’s get real.

What do condo fees pay for?

If you’re new to condo living, you might’ve heard about the ominous ‘condo fee,’ something that adds quite a chunk onto your monthly condo expenses. Condo fees pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the building that everyone lives in and must therefore contribute to.

Maintenance of and cleaning for shared spaces like amenity rooms, pools, gyms, lobbies, hallways, elevators, outside areas and more is not something most people will do for free. The condo board has to hire dedicated service people to take care of the building and keep it fresh and up to collective standards. Condo fees may also pay for concierge, cleaning and seasonal staff. 

The condo fees are also liable to change. For example, if something goes wrong on the shared rooftop patio – perhaps some wooden flooring gets warped, causing a safety hazard – the condo fees might be a bit higher that month to pay for these repairs.  

How are condo fees calculated?

Condo fees are typically calculated based on the size of your condo unit. The simple calculation will multiply the amount of square footage in your unit by the condo fee rate at the time.

If the condo fee rate is set at $0.36/sq.ft per month, for example, then a unit owner with a 620 sq.ft condo would have to pay:

620 sq.ft. x $0.36 per sq.ft. per month = $223.20 in condo fees for that month.

Pay fewer condo fees in a new building with a smaller unit

As you can tell, smaller units will have to pay less in condo fees, because they technically own less of the building. Also, newer buildings tend to have lower condo fees simply because much of the building is brand new, requiring less maintenance than one with a bit of age or wear and tear.

Can you opt out of condo fees?

Unfortunately, you cannot opt out of paying certain condo fees even if you don’t intend to use certain amenities. Even if you do find a building that lets you opt out (or pay per use) for the gym or party rooms, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll let you opt out of the baseline fees for elevator, lobby, hallway or security maintenance, for example.

Everyone’s condo fees also go in part towards the building’s reserve fund, something that acts as an emergency savings account for the condo board in case something especially expensive happens that requires immediate remedy.

Failure to pay your condo fees can result in legal and financial consequences, including the forced sale of your unit.