To help all owners, or potential owners of Condominiums McMurdo Management has compiled a list of frequently asked questions.
1. I have made an offer on a condominium unit, what do I do now?
The process of purchasing a condominium unit in the province of Ontario is a relatively simple process. It is always recommended that you retain the services of a qualified legal professional with regard to review of the Documents that will be presented to you through the buying process. It is important for you as a purchaser to feel informed about your purchase. There are rules and regulations with every condominium complex and they are all different. Don't be afraid to ask a question. If you have used a Real Estate Salesperson to conduct the transactions chances are they will have requested a "Status Certificate". This is a document that is created by the Property Management Company for the Condominium Corporation that you are purchasing into. This document will outline fees, rules and regulations and the general make up of your condominium Corporation. It is important that the Corporation that you are purchasing into has a healthy Reserve Fund to deal with future major expenditures. Any unit owner can request a Status Certificate at any time from the property manager. Appropriate fees would apply.
2. What is included in my Condominium Common Fees?
Every Condominium Corporation is different. It is a very important question that you should ask your Realtor what is included in your fees. Some condominiums include everything up-to and including the exterior walls of the building. Others are different (PLOTL(S)) where you own and maintain your lot and the corporation maintains the road. The fees for every unit are clearly outlined in the Declaration of your Corporation that is included with every status certificate.
3. Is there HST on my Common Fees?
If you live in the Province of Ontario in a residential Condominium unit then HST is NOT applicable to your condominium common fees. Commercial units would be subject to applicable taxes.
4. I have a pet it isn't a problem is it?
Again it is important that you as an owner know the rules and regulations of your Condominium Corporation. These rules are readily available and a call or email to the property manager for your Corporation should answer any questions you might have. Do not assume that you can bring a pet to the corporation no matter the circumstances. Buyers often think that because the corporation is a small one that the rules will be bent, or that because they have a valid reason to breech this rule that it will be ignored. This is not the case and often times Corporation's will go to great lengths to insure that the rules of their corporation are followed to the letter of the law. In order to avoid potential conflict and problems when moving into a condominium be sure to check if fido can easily make the transition to the new complex.
5. What is a PLOTL (Common Element Condominium Corporation)?
A PLOTL or a Parcel of Tied Land as it is called in the land registry office is a mechanism for developers and builders to take otherwise useless parcels of land which would not allow development of more than one structure and stratify them to allow multiple owners to enjoy that parcel. These types of Corporations are registered with the land Registry office as Common Element Condominium Corporations. These condominium corporation's often have limited involvement with the actual units or buildings and focus mainly on providing the services required to allow for the unit owners to access their units. Ie. these corporation's responsibilities are usually restricted to roads, paths, etc. The Declaration of your Corporation will clearly outline what is and what is not included with the common fees of your corporation.
6. What is a Status Certificate? Why does it cost $100?
A Status Certificate is a document that is usually requested by the Solicitors involved in the sale or registration of a Mortgage on a unit in a Condominium Corporation. These documents are a valuable source of information. They clearly outline the "status" of the unit in question including but not limited to the status of common fees paid, the monthly amount of fees, what the fees include. This document will also outline who the property manager is, who the board of directors is, any modifications that have been made to the unit or common elements of the corporation. This package will also include the Reserve Fund Study. This is a report that is fundamental to all condominiums in the province of Ontario and should be reviewed by your legal representative to see how the Reserve moneys of the corporation are sufficient to meet the estimated future needs of the Corporation.
7. Reserve Fund Study what is that?
A reserve fund study is a report commissioned by the Board of Directors of your Corporation on a 3 year cycle. This report is one of three varieties: Phase 1, 2 or 3. The types of study are clearly outlined in the Condominium Act 1998 which is the current legislation that condominiums in the province of Ontario operate under. This report will give a general overview of what is determined will make up the major expenses of the Corporation in subsequent years. The board of directors then use this report to formulate both operating and savings budgets for the current fiscal years. If done correctly the contributions on a yearly basis to the Reserve Fund will match what is outlined in the Reserve Fund Study.
8. The Reserve Fund isn't matching the Reserve Fund Study should I walk away?
NO! This is a reason to ask more questions but not run! There could be a very valid reason why this has happened. The Reserve Fund Study creator does not have a crystal ball. He is using reasonable deductions from the information that he was able to acquire a prognosis of what might be required. The report may speculate that the roof of the building needed to be replaced in 10 years and budgeted for it in accordance with that timing. Mother Nature and other factors can expedite the need to replace components earlier. Should this be required the property manager should be able to quickly explain the reasoning. At that time should you not be satisfied with the reasons for the expenditures you can bring your concerns to the board of directors for considerations. It should be noted that the property manager in this situation is just a messenger working on behalf of the Board of Directors for your Corporation.
9. I am not happy with the way decisions are being made what can I do?
This is the easiest question to answer and one that is posed to my office on a regular basis. Owners are always encouraged to become involved in their condominium corporation. The best and most effective way to do that is to volunteer for a position on the Board of Directors with your Condominium Corporation. These positions will come up for election on a regular basis. By being a board member you will be using your expertise and knowledge to help form the decisions that are being made on how the Corporation will spend money, tender contracts etc. An owner who is willing to sit on the board insures that their voice is heard.
10. I have received my Annual General Meeting (AGM) Package. What does all this information have to do with me as an owner?
Every year your Board of Directors will send out a package of information for your Corporation's Annual General Meeting often called the AGM. These meetings are legislated to happen within 6 months of the fiscal year end of your Corporation and are open to all owners, mortgagors, and stake holders of the corporation. Often this is when the election of new directors will take place. This will also be a forum to discuss the financial operations of the Corporation. In your package you should have received the Financial Statements that were approved by your Board of Directors. The Board will give an overview of these statements during the meeting and answer any questions that might arise from the ownership. Your package should also have included a proxy form. This form is your way of getting your voice heard should you be unable to physically attend the meeting. Your proxy form will give your designated person the right to vote in the election should their be one for the candidates that you believe will fulfill your mandate on the board.
PROXY FORM - Form used for voting purposes at the meeting of your Condominium Corporation. This form is used by an owner who can not attend the meeting in person. Proxies count towards the quorum of the meeting being held if they are filled out in the hand of the owner and properly signed and registered prior to the commencement of the meeting.
NOTICE TO WAIVE AUDIT FORM - This form is included with condominium corporations that are under the 25 unit threshold set out in the Condominium Act 1998. All Condominium Corporation's comprised of more than 25 units must on a yearly basis have their financial statements audited. Condominium Corporations that are under this 25 unit threshold are able to produce unaudited statements that are presented to the Ownership. For the Audit to be waived for the fiscal year ALL owners must agree with their Notice to Waive Audit form prior to the commencement of the meeting. Should any owner request an audit it will automatically be triggered and the Board will prepare all information and provide them to the auditor.
NOTICE OF LEASE - If you lease your condominium unit in the province of Ontario you are bound by the Condominium Act 1998 to advise the Board of Directors of your corporation or your property manager immediately. These forms provide a convent way for the unit owners to fulfill that requirement on a yearly basis.
10. I attended the AGM for my Condo but all of my major concerns were just brushed aside?
The AGM is not a time to bring up Major concerns. Often times owner's unaware of the process will make a list of their grievances and hope they are addressed at the Annual General Meeting of the Corporation. Often times Boards, and meeting chairs will not allow totally "NEW" business to appear on an AGM agenda. The reason for this is that the Board has put many hours of preparation in to insure that they are meeting all legislation and requirements of them leading up-to and through the AGM. It is important for owners to understand that should they want an item on the Agenda for the meeting other than just general conversation about day to day operations that they should present this information to the Board prior to the meeting so that all owners can be advised that it will be on the Agenda and discussed at the meeting. This way everyone can consider the proposal or proposals that are being presented and make an informed decision about them. It should be pointed out that the ownership can always voice their concerns directly to the Property manager who will then advise the board of the issue. Or through the board of directors directly. The board will then take the information presented and make a decision on how they would like to proceed to deal with the concern.