… Questions to Ask When Purchasing a Condo
for unexpected large expenses for major repairs and replacement, usually unexpected. For example, an emergency roof replacement or boiler replacement, well before it’s expected life cycle might initiate an assessment. Other possibilities include the need to clean up a deficit that has occurred, related to poor foresight or the lack of increasing fees when needed. If this is the case, asking what the board’s plan is to correct the current situation is important. Unit owner responsibilities toward maintenance and insurance In addition to the above, it is important to understand what the Standard Unit is and what that means for you as the unit owner as it pertains to repair and replace- ment and insurance. In short, the Standard Unit defines which components of a unit are to be treated as "standard", meaning, in- sured by the condominium corporation and subject of the obligation to repair the unit after damage; or as "improvements", meaning, insured by the unit owner and, subject to the declaration, solely the responsibility of the owner to insure, repair and maintain. Any improvements made by previous owners are in- cluded as your responsibility to insure, repair and maintain.
Trust me when I say that every condominium commu- nity has a different list. You may find in the declara- tion wording that puts the responsibility of repair and maintenance of windows on the unit owner but the replacement of the windows on the corporation. The Standard Unit Bylaw is also used as a guide for insurance. Over time, every unit undergoes a renova- tion of some kind and it is important to know what those renovations were. Should there ever be damage, that warrants an insurance claim under the corpora- tion’s policy, the insurance will only cover the replace- ment to the level noted in the Standard Unit. For ex- ample: the flooring noted in the standard unit is vinyl and you have ceramic tile in your kitchen, you will be responsible to cover any additional costs above the cost of installing vinyl. A call with your insurance company will explain this and more. Also helpful would be a chat with the Condominium Manager (if the corporation is professionally managed) or a board member (where there is no professional management) who could provide a good overview of the community. A good manager will be happy to have the conversation; as a well informed buyer is like- ly to become a welcomed member of the community. Chatting with a neighbour in a preferred property can also be helpful. — LS
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