Canada's Condominium Magazine
One of the most appealing aspects of purchasing property as opposed to renting is the ability to have free reign over a home and truly make it our own. However, that is not always the case. Many home owners have found themselves engaging in heated debates with their Home Owner’s Associations, often being required to tear down structures such as playgrounds or being forced to repaint their homes.
Just as houses often come with these organizations, so do condominiums. Rather than the typical Home Owner’s Association, however, the condominium will fall under the jurisdiction of a condo board. Read on the learn more about common misconceptions about condominiums and the restrictions that may or may not be imposed on your condo unit or building.
Common Misconception #1: “I own the unit. Therefore, I can do whatever I want with it.”
While this is true to an extent, it is not the absolute rule. Appeals will have to be made to the condo board, and permission will need to be granted before any renovations are made. These can be as complex as full-on renovations with upgraded appliances, removed walls, etc. Alternately, the regulations can be imposed on even the smallest of changes, such as the colour of paint used on your door to the types of plants and features added to your balcony. Some may even prohibit certain types of lawn furniture from being placed on the balcony.
Many condominiums also prohibit certain activities, such as grilling on a barbecue out on the balcony. Unless the balcony has an existing natural gas line, it is likely that such an activity will not be feasible. Propane tanks are a fire hazard and thus generally prohibited in condominiums. They are also strictly prohibited from being transported in elevators.
Common Misconception #2: “I can bring in extra income by posting my unit on Airbnb.”
While Airbnb has become widely popular, it is often prohibited in condominiums. Toronto’s new Airbnb rules do not take effect until July, though many condos already have their own strict rules and regulations in place. These often forbid leases that last less than six months, which directly conflicts with Airbnb policies and offerings. Furthermore, condos that do not currently have these rules in place can choose to change them at their discretion, especially if Airbnb tenants cause significant damager or are otherwise unruly.
Another downside to listing your unit on Airbnb is that, while the renter has signed a lease with you, you are still the owner and therefore the responsible party according to the condo board and property manager. Any damage, conflicts, or problems arising from their use will fall solely on you. It may not be worth the risk, especially if you lose your home due to an unruly short-term occupant.
Misconception #3: “This is my personal property, and I can bring whomever and whatever I want into the condo.”
Believe it or not, many condos have strict rules regarding pet ownership. Some flat-out do not allow them on the premises at all, while others have limits to the number of pets as well as weight restrictions. Of course, accommodations will have to be made for service animals, but nobody is going to fall for the claim that your ten cats are all therapy animals, no matter how much the cute and cuddly felines brighten your days.
Misconception #4: “Condo board meetings are dull, and I should just avoid them. The board can handle everything without me.”
While meetings certainly be dull, especially to those who do not care on way or another what is decided, that is not always the case. Many interesting topics are discussed during these meetings, and a great deal of changes are made during them as well. While you can certainly wait for any changes to be announced through a notice, it is far better to be there in person so that you can voice your opinion should things get out of hand.
While it is not a typical scenario, it is entirely possible for condo board members to take over and make changes that directly benefit themselves at the expense of others, and other changes could be made that may be appealing to other tenants but negatively impact you and your household. If you are not there to speak for yourself, then there is nothing that can be done after the fact.