Condominiums have become increasingly popular in recent years among all age groups, including younger first time buyers and empty nesters. A condominium is actually a legal definition that refers to a method of ownership, not a type of building. Any type of building can be a condominium. The term condominium refers to a system of ownership whereby a unit is owned separately by the individual who purchases it, while the common elements (hallways, elevators, lobby, walkways, swimming pool, front and back yards etc.) are owned in common by all the unit owners. When you own a condominium, you have individual title to the air space contained within the walls, floors and ceilings of your unit, which you are free to decorate, to maintain, and live in. At the same time, each unit owner has a joint interest in the common elements in a fixed proportion.
There are many reasons for buying a condo instead of a house. They make great affordable first homes, as well as great “last homes” if you are downsizing from a large family house to a smaller residence. Condo owners enjoy many of the benefits of home ownership, including individual taxation and potential gain on resale, in many cases without the burden of maintaining the exterior elements, such as mowing the lawn or shovelling the driveway.
In Ontario, condominiums are governed by the Condominium Act, 1998. This Act provides for a wide range of development options, including High-Rise and Low-Rise, Subdivision Style, Resort, Mixed Use, Phased, Vacant Land, Amalgamation, Common Elements and Leasehold condominiums. Condominiums need not be newly constructed; they may be conversions of existing buildings.
When purchasing a condominium a buyer needs to be aware that he or she has to accept the limitations of being a part owner of the common elements together with the responsibilities of being an owner of their unit. The buyer must understand that he or she will have to abide by the provisions of the Condominium Act, 1998 and the declaration, by-laws and rules of the particular condominium corporation. It is very important that a prospective purchaser understand all aspects of condominium living before deciding to purchase.