Condominiums: Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a limit on how much condo fees can be increased?

There is no maximum amount.

Each year, your condominium corporation should set out a budget for current operating expenses and the reserve fund. If you or other owners are concerned about increases to condo fees, discuss this with your board of directors at the condominium’s annual general meeting or at any other owners’ meeting.

Can I withhold my condo fees until urgent repairs are carried out in my unit?

Generally speaking, unit owners have to pay their condo fees even if they have a claim or dispute with the condo corporation. If they do not pay, the corporation can register a certificate of lien against a unit. This lien can be enforced, if necessary, by selling a unit.

My condo board wants to use the reserve fund to build a new exercise room. Can they do that?

No. The reserve fund may be used only for major repairs or replacement of the common elements or of any assets of the corporation.

Also, a new exercise room would be a substantial change to the common elements. These kinds of changes must be approved by at least 66.66% of the owners in the condominium corporation.

Our board says there’s no money in the reserve fund to complete necessary repairs. We don’t know where the money has gone. What can we do?

Generally speaking, unit owners have the right to examine the financial records of the corporation, including the reserve fund study. This study estimates necessary repairs and sets a minimum balance for the reserve fund.

There is usually a process that owners have to follow when asking for records. There are also some exceptions to the records that owners can request. For example, condo boards do not have to release records that have personal information of its employees.

Also, according to the Condominium Act, unit owners must appoint an auditor to review the condo board’s financial statements and prepare an annual auditor’s report. The condo board’s financial statements and the auditor’s report must be given to all owners as part of the annual general meeting notice package. Owners have the right to have the auditor attend this meeting to answer their questions.

My window has been leaking and causing damage in my unit. I submitted a work order to the condo manager but nothing has happened. What can I do?

Contact your condo manager or the board of directors to clarify who is responsible for any repair and maintenance that’s needed. Responsibility for repairs can vary from one condominium property to another.

If you have insurance for your unit, you can also consider contacting your insurance company. Or, if the condo board is responsible for making the repairs, ask for a timeline for action.

The sink in the unit above me overflowed and damaged my unit. Who pays for the repairs?

Consider contacting the condo manager or board of directors as soon as possible. Check:

if anything has to be done right away to stop any more damage
if the damage in your unit is covered under the corporation’s insurance policy
Also, if you have insurance for your unit, consider contacting your own insurance company.

You can also review the condo corporation’s declaration and by-laws to better understand your rights.

Can pets be banned or restricted in a condo building?

Yes, it is possible. Check your condominium’s declaration, by-laws and rules to see if pets are prohibited in your building or if there are any weight restrictions.

Ask the condo manager or board of directors for a meeting to discuss the issue. There may be room to negotiate.

You may also want to consider getting legal advice, especially before you decide to buy a unit in a condominium that limits or prohibits pets.

There is a loud and difficult resident across the hall from me. What can I do about this situation?

Report the concern to your condo manager or the board and ask that they look into the matter.

The condo board must take reasonable steps to make sure that owners and residents comply and with the Condominium Act, and the condominium’s declaration, by-laws and rules.

Can the property manager enter my unit without notice?

It is possible in some cases.

If there is an emergency, like a fire, management may be able to enter a unit immediately or without notice. Check your condominium’s declaration, by-laws and rules.

Normally, a representative of a corporation may enter a unit to carry out the “objects and duties” of the corporation, like inspecting the heating and cooling system, as long as he or she gives the unit owner and resident reasonable notice and enters at a reasonable time.

Do condo boards have to call and hold owners meetings?

When it comes to holding owners’ meetings, boards have to:

  • call and hold an annual general meeting within 3 months after the condo corporation is created (i.e. after the registration of the condo declaration and description)
  • after that, boards have to call and hold annual general meetings within 6 months of the end of each fiscal year of the corporation
  • call and give notice for a meeting at least 15 days before it is scheduled
  • Condo boards can also call and hold special owners’ meetings, known as requisition meetings. To request a requisition meeting, unit owners must send the board a written petition (known as a requisition) with the support of at least 15 per cent of the unit owners in the condominium.

Generally speaking, condo boards have to call and hold requisition meetings within 35 day of getting the petition.

Does my condo corporation have to give me access to its records?

Under the Condominium Act, condo corporations have to:

  • keep adequate records, including the corporation’s financial records, minutes from owners’ and board meetings, and a copy of the declaration, by-laws and condo rules
  • allow owners to view its records. However, owners have to ask for records in writing and may have to pay a fee if they want copies of the records
  • also, there are some records that condo corporations may not have to release to a unit owner, like records that have to do with other owners or units, records with personal information on employees of the condo corporation, records about actual or pending lawsuits or records about insurance investigations
  • provide copies of records within a reasonable time

If the corporation refuses to let you examine the records without a reasonable excuse, you can file a claim with Small Claims Court.

Are condominium corporations allowed to impose fines?

The Condominium Act does not allow a condo corporation to “fine” a unit owner.

But keep in mind that a “fine” is not the same as the recovery of costs against a unit owner. A condo corporation may be entitled to recover costs against a unit owner depending on certain factors. In these cases, owners may want to consider getting legal advice.

Why did monthly condo fees increase in my new condo?

The 1st year operating budget of a new condo corporation is set by the developer before the condominium is built. Many things can impact the accuracy of that budget, like increase in costs during construction.

Generally speaking, the developer is responsible for any shortfall in that 1st year budget. However, condo fees need to be adjusted in the 2nd year.

Also, fees to cover the cost of certain amenities, like a guest suite, might not take effect until year 2 of the corporation’s operation. Sometimes, these costs may not take effect until later on.

Also, keep in mind that increases in condo fees can happen at any time and for a number of reasons, like an unexpected major repair, legal proceedings involving the corporation, or just to keep up with rising costs.

What happens if you don’t pay or default on your condo fees?

Generally speaking, the condo corporation has the right to register a certificate of lien against your unit. Condo fee payment is as important as paying your mortgage and your property tax.

Do my monthly condo fees cover all of my maintenance?

The condo corporation uses the fees that are collected to operate the condominium. That includes maintenance and repair of most of the common elements.

But generally speaking, owners must maintain and repair their own units.

For example, the fixtures in a unit are usually the owner’s responsibility to repair and maintain. In many condominiums, the electrical and plumbing equipment behind the wall that only services the owner’s unit is also the owner’s responsibility.

Check your condominium declaration for a definition of unit boundaries and to understand what you are responsible to maintain and repair.

You should also keep in mind that condo corporations have to carry certain insurance, which may affect repair and maintenance. Any insurance that you choose to get for your unit may also affect your repair and maintenance responsibilities.

I’m interested in running for election to my board. Is there any training available on how to run a condominium?

Voluntary training on condo governance and the responsibilities of condo directors is available from industry associations.

There are no training requirements to become a condominium board member.

Who do I contact if there are defects in my newly-built condominium?

Tarion Warranty Corporation administers the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan – a warranty protection for newly-built homes. Visit the Tarion website for more on how to deal with defects in newly-built condominiums.

Read Tarion’s Homeowner Information Package for Condominiums.

Are there limitations to the number of units a single purchaser can buy?

The Condominium Act does not set limits on the number of units a single purchaser can buy.

If I see people in common areas who I think don’t live here, do I have the right, as an owner, to ask them for identification?

The common elements include property shared by you and other unit owners. It is possible that the people you see may be there because of other owners. If you have a concern, let security or the condominium manager know about it.

Can condo owners vote to change a condominium’s declaration?

The declaration can be changed, but this is not very common. Changing financial items, like contributions to condo fees, would require the support of 90% of the unit owners of the condo property. Even non-financial matters in the declaration, like pet restrictions, would require the support of 80% of owners.