Condominium Living

Living in a condominium complex is not the same as living in a freehold home: condo living is the right choice for someone who prefers not to spend time on the upkeep of the structure and grounds of their home. Those of us who have opted for this living arrangement are aware of the advantages of condo living, as well as of its limitations.

Here are some of the great pros of living in Copperfield Estates:

Our proximity to downtown provides all of us with walking access to great places, such as the art galleries and stores on Queen Street West, restaurants on Queen and King Street West, the nearby gyms, the lake with its cycling paths and the downtown core of Toronto.

When you are a resident of a condominium corporation, you entrust a property management company to deal with the upkeep of the common elements. You do not have to take care of your home's exterior, do landscaping in the summer or shovel snow in the winter! This frees up your personal time.

Spending of corporation funds is well protected due to government regulations referring to condominium corporations.

We are fortunate to have a courtyard with a fountain and a lot of green trees, which provide a welcome shade in the summer months. We can sit there in the sun or socialize with neighbours. To enhance the visual aspects of the courtyard, you can buy flowers in hanging baskets and pots to decorate your patio.

Living in stacked row houses, however, also comes with certain responsibilities and limitations. Here are a few things that you may want to know and keep in mind about condominium ownership:

By-laws and Rules
A condominium's affairs are regulated by the Condominium Act, and documents known as the Declaration, Description, By-laws and Rules. . . . By-laws are made by the Board of Directors and approved by the unit owners. There are also rules of the corporation which regulate the owners' day-to-day living environment. The Board of Directors makes the rules. The owners are required to receive notice of the rules and have a right of veto and can amend or repeal them.
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You are expected to read the communications sent by your management company in order to be informed of your commitments regarding repair and maintenance projects, as well as any events pertaining to you as an owner or resident. You should also attend the annual general meetings and vote on the issues presented at those meetings.

Your involvement
You have the right to participate in the affairs of the condominium corporation. Decisions made by the Board of Directors will directly influence the use of common elements and what you can do with your own unit. For this reason, you should be well informed about what is happening in your corporation. The condominium corporation provides that some decisions are the sole responsibility of the owner-elected Board but others must be approved by a vote of the unit owners.
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A different lifestyle
Condominium living may be very different from your accustomed style of life. The following statements point out some of these differences:
  • Most declarations for residential condominiums specify that units can be used only for residential purposes in accordance with the zoning by-law and not for commercial purposes;
  • Usually the owner is forbidden from any actions which could threaten the project's insurance coverage . . . making any structural changes to a unit or changes to the common elements without the consent of the condominium's Board of Directors.
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Monthly fees
The monthly fees, which are used to maintain the property and contribute to the reserve fund, are mandatory. Even if you are unhappy with the management company or the Board of Directors, you still have to pay those fees. They are used to pay for insurance, accounting fees, utilities and other costs associated with the upkeep of the property. "If you do not make your monthly payments, the corporation can put a lien against your property for the amount owing, together with interest and legal costs incurred".
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Every owner or tenant has an obligation to provide management with updated contact information. In an emergency (for example, flooding from your unit), the management company has the right to force entry into your unit if they cannot reach you.

Condo living as a compromise
What every condominium owner needs to keep in mind is that living in a detached or semi-detached house is very different from living in a multi-unit condominium. "Condominium living involves compromise. In return for having someone else fix the roof or cut the lawn, you will no longer have the final say in what colour you want your shingles to be or the timing of yard maintenance".
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Condominium living implies that you live in close proximity with a lot of other people. You are, therefore, expected to be respectful and considerate of your neighbours' presence. Noise is an important consideration. "Many condominiums have rules regarding what noise levels will be tolerated and at what hours. For example, if you are hosting a party in your unit you may be asked to turn the music down at a specific hour".
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You may be asked to provide access to your unit in order to have some necessary maintenance done, such as chimney and vent cleaning, door and patio painting. You can stay at home, arrange for a friend or neighbour to be there, or provide the management company with a key to your unit.

Finally, if you have any questions regarding the management of the condominium corporation, please call our manager Janine Wallace-Rivard.

  • Condominium Buyer's Guide, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2002.
  • Loeb, Audrey, Condominium Ownership, The Canadian Condominium Institute.