What's yours and what's shared in a condo?

There's no doubt that condominiums are an increasingly popular choice for new homeowners. In 2016 alone, more than 22,600 new units became homes for Ontarians who are looking for the condo lifestyle and amenities. If you're thinking of joining them, a good first step is to understand the difference in responsibility between what you own and what all the building's unit owners share.

A benefit of purchasing a new condominium is the mandatory warranty that is provided by your builder and backed by Tarion, the warranty's administrator. There's a separate warranty for your individual unit and another for the building's common elements.

Your unit's warranty provides coverage for deposit protection and delayed closing before you move in. After you take occupancy, it covers defective materials, building code violations and unauthorized substitutions of items agreed to in the purchase agreement.

Your builder is required to provide you with a homeowner information package, explaining what is and isn't covered in your individual unit, how to make a claim and when to involve Tarion. As owner, you are responsible for understanding and managing the warranty that comes with your unit and to submit warranty claims on a timely basis.

All condos come with some common elements — like roofing, parking, exterior cladding and some mechanical systems. The homeowner package should clearly outline which are considered common elements. For example, electrical, heating and plumbing systems may be considered part of the common elements and not your individual unit.

The common element warranty is managed by your condo's board of directors or delegated to a property manager. The board is made up of a group of unit owners who are elected to run the condominium corporation on behalf of all owners.

The board must arrange for a post-construction performance audit, which will determine if there are any major deficiencies in the common elements. If there are, the board should report them to the builder and to Tarion.

Any warranty claims relating to the condominium's common elements must be dealt with by the board of directors, but as a unit owner you should report any common element issues to the board in writing.

If a warranty claim must be made, some boards will identify a designate who will act as the condo's representative; others may choose to have a property management company fulfill this role. Once a claim is submitted, the builder has 18 months to complete the required repairs.

Find more information online at www.tarion.com

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