The word ‘condominium’ refers to a form of property ownership that is made of two fundamental parts:
- Individual units – the suites themselves, and any or all parts of the property available for individual ownership and title transfer, plus
- Common elements – any part of the property that is not a unit element, which is owned by all of the unit owners as tenants in common.
A condominium’s affairs are regulated by the Condominium Act, 1998, and documents known as the Declaration, Description, By-laws and Rules.
What are common elements?
Common elements are those parts of the condominium development that are outside of the boundaries of the individual units.
Common elements may include, but are not limited to parks; roads and landscaping – gardens, lawns and trees; the elevators; corridors; lobbies; parking areas; garage; onsite mail room; plus entertainment, recreation and/or fitness facilities.
Other common elements include the mechanical and electrical systems and structural parts of buildings. The maintenance and repair are typically the responsibility of the Condominium Corporation.
What are exclusive use common elements?
Exclusive use common elements are those common elements of a building to which ONLY the unit owner or owners have exclusive use. The most obvious are balconies, terraces, patios, backyards, a parking spot or locker. Dependant up what is provided in the condominium’s Declaration, exclusive use common elements may be maintained or repaired by either the owner or owners who have their exclusive use, or the condominium corporation.
As a rule of thumb, any feature that is within a suite is owned by that unit, unless stated otherwise in the Declaration.
What is the Declaration?
The Declaration is the “constitution” of the condominium. It’s your governing documents. It outlines the division of ownership within the corporation by identifying the units, the common elements and the exclusive use common elements, if any. It also sets out the percentages of ownership each unit has in the property and the percentage that each unit contributes to the monthly common expenses. The Declaration will also indicate which costs will be the responsibility of the corporation and paid for by the owners’ contributions to the monthly common expenses.
What are Condominium Restrictions?
The Declaration, By-Laws and Rules will determine any restriction on how you may use your suite or the common elements, for example:
- Restrict the size or number or types of allowable pets
- Specify the color of your shades or blinds (usually white or off-white)
- Require you to file certain documents with the Condo Corporation if you will be leasing out your unit
- Restrict certain renovations to your suite.