St Lucia Condominiums
What is a condominium?
Condominiums usually resemble apartments, but may take the form of ground-oriented townhouses. Newer condominiums are purpose built, with individual units made available as rental apartments by their owners. In some cases, older condominium apartment buildings were constructed as purpose-built rental units, but converted to ownership. The distinguishing feature of condominium ownership is that the unit itself is owned by an individual (often with a mortgage) but all shared elements are owned by a corporation of unit owners. In a standard condominium tenure, the unit owner possesses the internal space of their unit. The condominium corporation, of which every owner is a member, owns the land on the exterior of the building and common areas. Common areas include essential features like hallways, staircases, elevators and utility corridors, as well as amenities including swimming pools, gyms, and common rooms, where these exist. Where parking spaces are privately owned, driving lanes and associated parking facilities are commonly owned.
Ontario’s Condominium Act
The province of Ontario in Canada is considered a veritable capital of condominiums. There are over one point three (1.3) million condominium owners or residents living in five hundred and fifty seven thousand (587,000) units in Ontario; condominiums represented one-half of new construction in 2013. In the city of Toronto, the population living in condominiums grew from nine hundred and seventy eight thousand, one hundred and twenty five (978,125) in 2011 to one point four seven eight (1.478) million people in 2016, representing fifty four point seven percent (54.7%) of the city’s population.
In fact, condominium corporations exist for a wide array of housing forms, but are most commonly used for multi-storey apartment buildings and townhouses with shared physical assets.
Ontario’s Condominium Act has evolved over time. . The 1998 Act governed condominiums in Ontario until December 2015. It required every development to establish a corporation to manage the day-to-day functions of a community, including maintenance and repairs. The corporation had to be led by a board of directors elected by the owners of units on a regular basis. Directors must hold an annual meeting to conduct elections and appoint an auditor, though special meetings can be called at any time.
The Act permitted a wide range of development options, including standard, phased, vacant land, common element, and leasehold. Under the Act certain existing condominiums can amalgamate and existing properties can be converted to condominiums if allowed by municipalities. An important element of the Condominium Act was the reserve fund contribution, consisting of at least ten percent (10%) of condominium fees collected. Unlike some provinces, Ontario does not allow small condo corporations flexibility on this matter.
Ontario’s condominium legislation was updated with the Protecting Condominium OwnersAct of 2015. This act created a new Condominium Authority, funded by a one Canadian dollar (CDN 1.00) a month fee on individual condo owners and developers. The Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) was established by the province in 2017 with the goal of minimizing issues before they become disputes.
The new Condominium Act recognizes two types of condominiums: freehold condominium corporations and leasehold condominium corporations. A standard freehold arrangementincludes ownership of a unit and interest in the property’s common elements and assets (inseparable from ownership of a unit). In the case of a leasehold condominium, the land is not owned by the corporation. Buyers purchase a leasehold interest in units and common elements, but do not own the land. The differences from a freehold model are that commonexpenses include a portion of rent payable to land owner and the owner’s right to occupy theunit expires with the ground lease. In this case, a lease term must be between forty (40) and ninety nine (99) years.
The Condominium Act lays out the rights and responsibilities of unit owners. A critical right is to the quiet enjoyment of your unit, as well the need for advance notification of anynecessary inspection. Unit owners are required to follow their corporation’s declarations, by-laws and rules. Unit owners are also required to repair and maintain their unit, pay acommon expense fee to the corporation, and not interfere with their neighbours’ quietenjoyment of their own units.
A condominium corporation is managed like a business with a board of volunteer directors and a manager hired to oversee day-to-day operations.
When a developer is building a condominium building, they must prepare documents declaring a condominium corporation and file them at the land registry office; this is called registering the condominium. Once active, the corporation votes on by-laws effecting common expenses and common elements. By-laws must be voted on at meetings. The board of directors can more easily enact rules intended to promote safety and security, such preventing short-term rentals and banning animals.