Are condo fees mandatory?
Condo fees are mandatory for divided co-ownership, but not for undivided co-ownership.
Undivided co-ownership properties might still require a monthly or annual injection to build up a reserve fund and pay for building maintenance costs.
Here are the main differences between divided and undivided properties:
- The minimum down payment (the portion not covered by a mortgage loan) is 20%
- Administration is more flexible and depends largely on the co-owners
- The condo fees (if any) and taxes are generally lower
- The minimum down payment is 5%
- They are governed by mandatory rules set out in the Civil Code of Québec
- They have a syndicate of co-owners managed by a by a board of directors and the coowners hold meetings
- The condo fees and taxes tend to be higher
For a more in-depth look at the differences between divided and undivided co-ownership, read our article: Divided co-ownership and undivided co-ownership: Key differences.
What does condo fees cover?
Condo fees (also called co-ownership fees) are billed to the co-owners each month. They are used to:
- Pay for the regular maintenance of common areas: Expenses can include window washing, snow removal, lawn maintenance, etc.
- Cover administration costs: Managing a building involves certain fees, such as those for holding meetings. Some buildings are managed by private companies that are paid for their services.
- Paying insurance premiums on the building: In addition to your personal insurance to cover your dwelling and civil liability, some types of insurance are necessary to cover the building and its syndicate (sometimes called a condominium corporation).
- Contribute to a self-insurance fund: This fund is used to pay the building’s insurance premiums, i.e. the base amount to be paid for a claim. This fund is mandatory for divided co-ownership properties in Quebec.
- Build up the reserve fund: This is a contingency fund for the building. Co-owners contribute to this account in case major maintenance work (such as roofing or unforeseen repairs) is needed. This fund is mandatory for divided co-ownership properties in Quebec.
How much are condo fees?
Your personal contribution is based on the relative value of the portion of the building you own. For example, if the value of your condo is equal to 7% of the value of the building, you’ll pay 7% of the shared expenses.
The amount of condo fees depends on a number of factors, namely:
- Suppliers, e.g. a private building management company must be paid.
- Location of the property: buildings located in large cities generally have higher condo fees.
- Amenities, such as a gym, a pool, or elevators.
- Planned work: older buildings may need more upkeep.
Should you be wary of condo fees that are too low?
Yes. If you’ve just found the perfect condo, and the condo fees are among the lowest you’ve seen, be sure to exercise caution.
Condo fees that are too low could be a sign that:
- Maintenance costs and administration fees have been under-estimated. This situation is common in the case of new buildings. It may seem attractive when you’re buying, but it’s unfortunately not viable. At some point, the fees will have to be increased to keep the building in good condition.
- Regular, preventive maintenance is not being done. In the case of an existing building, condo fees that are too low could mean that preventive maintenance is not being done or major work is being put off. When a building is neglected, it can lose value.
- An under-funded contingency fund—or none at all. If this is the case and major work is required, you may have to inject a considerable amount of extra money (special assessment).
What is a special assessment?
A special assessment is an amount that’s over and above your monthly condo fees. It’s collected to cover additional costs for projects, such as renovations, or to remedy financial issues.
The importance of a reserve fund study
A reserve fund study helps determine the amount that should be in the reserve fund. For peace of mind: Ask to have the study done by an architect, engineer or other building professional.
It’s sometimes better to pay higher condo fees to make sure that your building is well maintained and there is a healthy amount in the reserve fund. For personalized support and budget planning when purchasing a co-ownership property, make an appointment to meet with one of our specialists. We're here to answer your questions.
Ready to buy your dream condo? Read our article: 5-point guide to co-ownership.