When you purchase a condominium you’re buying more than just a home. You’re also purchasing shares in a corporation that is responsible for managing the affairs of the property. Your “share” of the corporation is normally based on the size of your condo unit, as a percentage of the whole. These shares are often referred to as a “unit factor.”
Of course, you enjoy exclusive use of your condo unit and pretty much everything that goes on inside of it, including improvements you wish to make are your responsibility and are done at your discretion provided these things do not contravene the Bylaws of the Condominium Corporation.
In addition to implementing and enforcing Bylaws for the condominium, the corporation is responsible for setting budgets, record keeping, maintaining adequate insurance on the building and other improvements and maintaining the property. Each unit owner makes a monthly contribution, based on their unit factor, to cover expenses incurred by the corporation. In most cases, some money is also collected and set aside for “reserves,” which will generally be used for unexpected expenses and expenditures that are not included in the general operating budget. Like any other property, major expenses are incurred when a roof needs to be replaced or a boiler system fails. Generally, these items are paid from reserves. If the reserve fund cannot cover the expenditure unitholders are called upon to make up the difference through what’s known as a “cash call.”
Just like companies that operate in the market place, some condo corporations manage the affairs of their property better than others. As a prospective buyer, you owe it to yourself to make certain that you have a reasonably good idea of what you’re getting yourself into. The doctrine of caveat emptor or buyer beware applies as much to condos as any other type of home and prudent buyers take appropriate actions to protect their interests.
If you offer on a condo unit through a REALTOR® some actions have already been taken to help protect you. All real estate registrants are required to use mandatory forms as directed by the Bylaws of the Saskatchewan Real Estate Commission. One of those forms is called a Schedule “C” Special Terms for Contract of Purchase and Sale of a Condominium Unit. This form, when completed by a buyer and accepted by the seller, binds the seller to provide you with various documents within 10 days of acceptance. You may review these documents and if you are concerned about anything you discover to the extent that you wish to cancel the agreement, you may do so by serving written notice to the seller of your intention to rescind your offer. That written notice must be delivered to the seller within 5 days of receipt of the documents.
The Schedule “C” requires the seller to provide the buyer with the following documents:
- the current Bylaws of the Condominium Corporation;
- the latest financial statements of the Condominium Corporation and the last audited statements;
- the current policy of insurance;
- any current management agreement regarding the Condominium Corporation;
- the current recent budget of the Condominium Corporation;
- written confirmation of parking/storage facilities and exclusive use areas included in the purchase price, any related costs or charges and any special rules regarding those areas; and
- a current Estoppel Certificate issued by the Condominium Corporation pursuant to the regulations of The Condominium Property Act, 1993.
In my next post, I’ll go a little deeper on these documents, explaining what the purpose of each is and what steps you may take to protect yourself.
Royal LePage Vidorra