Condo living comes with a whole bunch of perks, from 24-hour security and concierge, to private parking and a gym just steps from your front door. Of course, access to all of these perks isn’t free, and chances are your condo lifestyle will be reflected in the cost of home ownership - and your condo fees.
What kind of things do condo fees cover?
The main purpose of condo amenities is to help residents live comfortably and have access to as many things as possible. Often, they act as a selling point and can be the final deciding factor for a potential buyer teetering on the edge of a decision. Common amenities include:
Gym and swimming pool access
Communal party room
Outside garden areas
Parking and bike storage
Condo fees also cover the less glamorous items, like general maintenance and upkeep of shared communal areas, like lobbies. That means if something breaks or is damaged in one of these areas, the fees you pay will ensure they are repaired.
Does everyone have to pay amenity fees?
While the fees that cover maintenance and repairs are mandatory for everyone in the building, some condo units will allow the fee for “leisure” amenities to be optional. If you are someone who doesn’t want to access any of these additional extras - the gym, swimming pool, party room, etc. - then your building may allow you to opt out. It should be noted that this is not true of all buildings, and many make no distinction between amenities fees and general maintenance fees.
How are fees paid?
Fees are usually paid on a monthly basis, directly to the condo board and separately from your monthly mortgage or rental fee, depending whether you own or rent your unit. Despite the fact they are paid monthly, many people forget to budget for them.
Condo fees may be influenced by the size of your unit. For example, a two-bedroom unit might pay a higher fee than a studio apartment. Usually fees are recalibrated on a yearly basis, up or down, depending on the building’s annual operating budget.
Building fees can range, depending not only on the size and age of the building, but also based on the type of amenities available at each. The more amenities, and the higher quality they are, the more likely the fees will be higher.
Who decides how the fees are used?
As a unit owner and a member of the condo community you will work with your neighbours to decide how the money is spent. Part of the money will go to staffing and upkeep of amenities, such as your fitness suite or pool. However, you can work with that is known as the condo corporation to decide other ways the money is allotted.
The condo corporation is a non-profit organization run by a volunteer board made up from residents of your condo building. The board is determined through an annual vote, and is approachable year-round. The board collects votes and mediates on the behalf of residents with the condo management company.