Condos and Common Elements
A condominium or “condo” refers to a type of legal ownership that is different from owning a detached house. A condo can be an apartment unit in a high-rise building, a townhouse, or a loft. When you buy a condo, you are buying legal title to your own unit (and possibly a parking spot and locker) as well as an ownership interest in the building’s facilities, otherwise known as common elements. Common elements include the building’s hallways, elevators, lobby, driveways, recreational facilities, roof, parts of parking areas, and other parts of the building not owned by individual condo unit owners. Each unit owner is responsible for maintaining their unit, and the condominium corporation is responsible for maintaining and repairing the common elements.
Condominium developments become not-for-profit condo corporations when their description and declaration are filed with the government. The description of the condominium development consists of building plans and surveys. The declaration is the core document that creates the condominium corporation. Among other things, the declaration will describe the development, what constitutes the various units, how parking and lockers are allocated, what percentage of common expenses (monthly maintenance fees) each owner pays, and the various rules and regulations governing the use of individual units and the common areas.
A condominium corporation also will file various by-laws with the government. These by-laws are somewhat similar to by-laws of any corporation or club. The by-laws contain detailed rules for how the condo corporation will be operated. For example, by-laws will specify how many directors there will be on the board of directors, the minimum number of unit owners (or proxies) needed to form a meeting, the minimum notice required for meetings, etc. The by-laws are voted on by the condo’s board of directors, and by-laws must be confirmed by a majority of the unit owners (or proxies) at an annual general meeting
Owners and Directors
Each condo unit owner has the right to vote on particular matters when annual general or special meetings are held. Unit owners elect a board of directors, who become the unit owners responsible for managing the operations of the condominium. The board of directors hires a property management company to administer the condominium’s day-to-day requirements. The board of directors is empowered to pass rules and regulations regarding the use of common elements and condo units. However, if enough owners agree, a meeting can be held to reconsider any rule that was passed by the board.