The condominium unit may be a residential suite in a multiple-unit building, an office suite in a commercial building, or a townhouse. The owner of each unit usually has title only to the interior of the unit.
The common elements are generally areas such as the lobby, grounds, parking lots, corridors, and recreational facilities, which are used by all of the unit owners. Common elements also include machinery used in the condominium, such as heating and cooling equipment and exterior structure of the building.
More and more condominiums now have parking lots and lockers as separate units that are bought and sold apart from the main unit and as such are exclusive-use common elements.
As an owner of the common elements, each unit owner is responsible to pay common expenses. The amount usually depends on the size of the individual unit. Common expenses cover things like maintenance, gardening, snow removal, cleaning, repairs and emergency budgets.
Each condominium corporation is required to maintain a reserve fund which is used for major repairs or replacements of the common elements. As the condominium gets older the reserve fund usually increases as more and more repairs might be needed, or the repairs become more significant, thus accordingly common expenses of unit owners can increase because of that.
The bylaws are the rules that govern the internal operation of the condominium such as:
- Holding of meetings;
- Notice of meetings;
- Quorum requirements;
- Composition of the board of directors;
- Appointment of officers;
- Duties and powers of the corporation;
- Banking arrangements.
Rules and Regulations
Rules and regulations govern the everyday rights and obligations of the owners of individual units. Rules might prohibit the use of barbeques on balconies, installation of satellite dishes and so on. Rules might also impose some restrictions on the use of recreational facilities by unit owners.
For rules and regulations to be effective a notice of such must be given to the unit owners. Unit owners have 30 days to register an objection, if 15 percent or more register such an objection, a meeting of unit owners must be held to conduct a vote on such rules and regulations.
A purchaser of a condominium unit must obtain a Status Certificate from the condominium corporation. It is prepared by the board of directors and provides a written report on the current state of the condominium, it might include the following:
- The amount of common expenses for the unit and whether or not the seller is in default of payment of common expenses;
- Whether common expenses will increase and the reasons for such;
- Whether there are any law suits or judgments made against the corporation;
- Whether there are any insurance claims against the corporation;
- A copy of the current declaration;
- The address for service of the corporation.
A declaration describes the units, setting out their boundaries. It sets out the percentage of the common elements associated with each unit and the percentage of common expenses each unit owner will be required to pay.