Condominiums: By-laws, Reserve Funds, Condo-Documents
In part 1 we examined the different types and styles of Winnipeg condominiums. Now lets look at some of the more common questions buyers have about condominiums in general:
What do Condo-Fees pay for?
All condominiums (and there are hundreds in Winnipeg) have different arrangements. With some, your condo fee only pays for the very basics, such as snow-clearing, grass cutting, management fees and common-element insurance’. With other condominiums, the fees might include water, cable-vision packages, heat and an on-site caretaker.
What is a ‘common-element’?
Basically it is any area where all residents have access. In an apartment style condominiums, that would be the entrance and the hallways, as an example. In a townhouse, or bungalow styles, it would be the roadway and the visitor parking lot. The ‘common-element insurance’ basically protects the owners from any lawsuits by visiting guests, whether invited or uninvited, but that is a subject all to itself.
What is a Reserve Fund?
Every month, a small portion of the condo-fee goes into a special savings account, called a “Reserve Fund”. Again depending on the type of condominiums we are looking at, this reserve fund might pay for any building repairs such as a new roof, new windows, painting and re-carpeting of hallways, etc. Basically the maintenance and repairs of areas which are common to all owners, and which effect all owners. So for example, if you own a stand-alone bungalow condo, you might be responsible for your own roof repairs, new windows etc etc.
If the condo requires extra maintenance or improvements, and the Reserve Fund does not have sufficient funds to cover these costs, owners are faced with a Special Assessment. Here is where knowing your specific “percentage of ownership” comes in: When you bought the unit, you are actually buying a small percentage of the entire building…. for example, 0.75%. So if a special assessment is required of, let’s say, $1.2 million dollars, you will have to submit 0.75% of that….. Owners and buyers are, understandably concerned about this, but here is a way to look at it: If you owned a HOUSE, you might face an unexpected bill for furnace repair/replacement, or roof repair, etc etc.
Bylaws for Condominiums:
When a condo-project is first created, the builder usually sets up a set of ‘by-laws’, which would govern the use and rights of the individual owners. The initial set of by-laws are quite often very simple, such as “No Laundry to be hung from windows” of an apartment style condo. Bungalow condominiums might have a rule that states “No Outbuildings or Sheds or Fences to be erected”.
As owners settle into the Winnipeg condominiums, they establish a board, and can then write their own by-laws. In order to change a current law, or to create a new one, the owners need to approve such changes by a 75% margin. In short, majority rules.
Unfortunately, in our fair city and province, Winnipeg condominiums are taxed at precisely the same rate as regular houses. Considering that many condos, especially high-rises, uses a lot less services (i.e.: street cleaning, garbage pickup which is often paid for by the condo fees, snow clearing, etc etc) this current system is not considered fair by many. Fair or not, condos offer a unique lifestyle, and definite value in a time when it is becoming more and more difficult to find a house in a similar price range.
Check out the 7 reasons for buying a condominium in Winnipeg.
If you’re looking to buy a condo in Winnipeg, please call me first: Bo Kauffmann (204) 333-2202