Condominiums and apartments may look the same, and to landlords and tenants, there are similarities, but also important differences too.
With an apartment, the landlord is the owner of the building. With a condo, the landlord is the unit owner. Tenants are people who, through a lease agreement, pay rent to a landlord and have the right to occupy a rental unit.
The relationship between all landlords and tenants is governed by the Residential Tenancy Act, 2006 (RTA). That’s true for condo and apartment landlords. The legislation covers the leasing agreement.
In a condo building (but not an apartment) the Condominium Act, 1998 applies too. Landlords must ensure that their tenants have a copy of and adhere to condo rules.
Condo unit owners are responsible for following rules too. The condominium corporation may have its own rules on rentals, which could include lease terms (e.g. minimum number of months) and other landlord obligations.
Just as tenants must follow the same rules as owners, they also have the same rights as owners when using building amenities.
As for parking spaces and/or lockers, condo owners can decide whether to include them in the lease agreement. Owners can choose to retain those or rent them to another tenant.
When you rent a unit for the first time, the rent is based on current market prices. There is no maximum. The market price for a unit may be higher than that paid by a previous tenant.
The RAT covers most types of rental units, whether an apartment, a condo, a house or a room in a rooming or boarding house. Generally, landlords can increase rent:
In Ontario, the Residential Tenancy Act, 2006 (RTA) outlines the rights and responsibilities of landlords and of tenants who rent residential properties. It applies to most rental arrangements, such as apartments, houses, condos, basement suites and public housing.
The legislation covers issues. such as maintenance and repairs, tenancy agreements, rent, entering a rental unit and ending a tenancy. In 2017, Ontario passed the Rental Fairness Act, 2017, which modifies the Residential Tenancies Act. Rent control now applies to all private rental units, including those first occupied on or after November 1, 1991.
A condominium isn’t a specific type of building or structure but a type of property ownership. The property includes individual units and common elements. Condominium owners own their unit and also share the ownership and costs of the common elements of the property.
A condominium corporation is an entity that manages the affairs of the property. The creation, ownership, and governance of condominiums are regulated by the Condominium Act, 1998. Every condo document in Ontario is based on this Act.
As a condo unit owner, you have certain rights and responsibilities. The affairs of the condo follow the Condominium Act; the condominium declaration; and the condo corporation’s by-laws and rules.
You have the right to:
You have the responsibility to:
If you can have a pet in a stand-alone home or single dwelling, what about a condominium? If you own the unit, shouldn’t you be allowed to decide on who or what lives in it?
Not necessarily. Owning a condominium is not like owning a freehold home. The Condominium Act allows a condo corporation to make rules that promote the safety, security or welfare of the unit owners, as well as rules that prevent unreasonable interference from happening to individuals using common elements. Some of those rules may concern pets.
A condo’s declaration or rules can, for instance:
If pets are permitted, there may be cases where the condo corporation can raise an issue with the condo owner. For instance, a barking dog that causes a nuisance or a dog that poses a potential threat to residents or the property. Condo rules may even allow for a demand to remove a pet.
Declarations are stronger than rules and do not have to be deemed “reasonable”. The courts have held that some prohibitions of domestic pets in a rule are in fact unreasonable and, therefore unenforceable.
Condo corporations should enforce any pet provisions clearly and consistently. If not, it makes it more likely that a court rejects the condo’s pet restrictions.
For condominiums that prohibit pets in declarations or rules, the only exception is for animals assisting persons with disabilities or illness. Rights to such therapy animals fall under the Human Rights Code.
When owners or tenants take possession, they should receive the keys to the unit, as well as keys and/or fobs to the mailbox and common doors and areas.
For security reasons, consider the following best practices:
The Condominium Act requires condominium corporations to insure the units and the common elements against major perils, such as fire, smoke, lightning, windstorm, or hail.
Effective November 1, 2017, condominium corporations now have an obligation to provide information to owners about insurance, including about property insurance for major perils such as fire.
If a unit is damaged for such reasons, the corporation will use its insurer to cover the costs of repairs. While the condo corporation is responsible for repairs to the unit itself, the unit owners will use their own insurers to cover:
Condo corporations should regularly review their insurance policy to ensure that it offers sufficient replacement coverage, and coverage for a range of related costs, e.g. engineering and other professional fees; demolition costs; disposal of materials; permit fees; and getting older buildings to comply with current codes.
Some condo corporations have insurance deductibles (in their by-laws), which they could add to the common expenses paid by all owners or charge an individual owner. The lesser of a cost of repair and the deductible is added to the common expenses of the owner if the damage is caused by the act or omission of said owner, the unit's tenant or a person residing in the unit. An owner, in turn, could look to their own insurer to cover the deductible.
Regarding insurance, the Condominium Act deals mostly with property coverage. However, the condo corporation must also get other types of insurance, such as liability insurance (for potential breaches of duty; insurance on the ownership and use of equipment like boilers or vehicles; and errors and omissions coverage for their directors and officers of the condo board.
Who handles condo upkeep, renovations, and restorations? There are important distinctions in responsibilities. One has to do with individual units and common elements (see Repairs and maintenance), while the other has to do with repairs and damages within the unit.
Condo unit owners are responsible for the ongoing maintenance and repair of their own units. The condo corporation is usually responsible for the unit's plumbing and electrical, but not in all cases. Sometimes, the plumbing and electrical equipment behind the wall that only services the owner’s unit is also the owner’s responsibility. Exclusive use common elements may also be the responsibility of the owner. The condo plans and declaration sets those boundaries, i.e. what is considered part of the unit.
While the condo owner handles routine wear and tear repairs, the condo corporation is responsible for repairs after certain damage. This includes damage from a flood and broader structural damage.
Some corporations have by-laws that define a standard unit and its basic elements. So if the condo owner has made improvements (such as trading carpet for hardwood or installing built-ins or custom cabinets), the corporation is obliged to only cover the damage costs for the basic elements. The condo owner or their insurance would be responsible for the balance of damage costs.
When renting out a condo unit, owners are responsible for following the rules of the corporation. Always check the rules to make sure you're not in violation.
Some rules could include lease terms that avoid short-term rentals, such as a minimum number of months on a lease. This prevents owners from converting their units into a vacation rental or homestay operation. Condo declarations can also spell out requirements, such as each unit shall be occupied and used only as a private single-family residence.
If you're renting out a unit for a longer term, any tenants have to abide by the terms too. Therefore, a tenant cannot, in turn, lease the unit out for short-term stays. Make this clear in the rental agreement.
If you decide to sublet your unit, notify your insurance company to see if and how your policy covers and damage caused by tenants.