Answers to your questions about paying condo fees.
Condos fees, also known as common expenses or maintenance fees, are collected by condos so they can pay for cleaning, maintenance, management services and saving for major future repairs. Usually, each unit is allocated a percentage of the common expenses based on its size Payment proportions are initially determined by the builder and outlined in the declaration.
Condo corporations can charge back costs to an owner if that owner breaks the rules or acts irresponsibly. These charges can include necessary repairs completed on behalf of the owner, damage to the unit caused by the owner, occupancy related issues, costs obtained in a court order and non-compliance with common element changes. Corporations can levy additional chargebacks outlined in their governing documents. You may be able to dispute some chargebacks by filing a CAT case. For others, you may need to consider private mediation, arbitration or a court case.
Condo corporations have the legal right to place a lien against your unit if you do not pay your condo fees. A lien is a claim against an asset that can be used to pay back a debt. Here is the lien process:
- A lien is placed against your unit as soon as you default on paying your condo fees
- The lien will expire unless your corporation registers it with the Land Registry Office
- The corporation can issue a power of sale and sell your unit to recoup costs unless you pay your fees
Speak to a lawyer if you need to dispute a lien.
A special assessment is an extra one-time charge added to an owners’ common expense fees that condo corporations may use to cover shortfalls in their yearly budget. Your condo corporation will tell you how much you must pay using the same percentage used to calculate your common fee expenses. Not paying a special assessment will lead to your corporation placing a lien against your unit. Owners should always keep an eye on their corporation’s financials so they can understand if an assessment is likely and if so, why it is necessary. Condo ownership is different from other types of property ownership – owners are collectively responsible for the maintenance of the corporation’s assets through condo fees and, if necessary, assessments.
Owners should contact their condo board if they are unaware of the reason for the special assessment. Some owners may be able to dispute assessments that were levied or disclosed improperly by filing a case with the Superior Court of Justice.