Canada's Condominium Magazine

Tips on how to keep condo fees in check

Nobody likes rising costs for services, and especially when there’s no apparent benefit to be seen. Condo owners often complain about their condo maintenance fees. In fact, that is probably the most frequently heard complaint, and with it comes the question, why can’t they ever go down instead?

The Condominium Act specifies a number of rights for Ontario condo owners. These include

  • the right to receive an annual budget and a periodic reserve fund study
  • the right to attend an annual general meeting
  • the right to access most condo records
  • the right to representation by a board that is accountable

Based on these owners’ rights, here are a few ways you can possibly affect the amount of maintenance fees you pay.

Keep an updated copy of your condo’s Status Certificate. This should always be examined, preferably by a lawyer, before you purchase a condo. It contains information about the monthly fees, the board, and the all-important reserve fund.

Attend the meetings of your condo association and particularly the annual general meeting where budget issues are discussed.

Examine the annual budget when it is presented at the annual general meeting. Owners do not have the right to vote on the budget, which is the responsibility of the condo board. But this is why it is important to know who is on the board, and to hold them all to accounts.

Be active in keeping informed about your condo’s finances. As an owner you have the right to see monthly financial statements and board meeting minutes. Whether you suspect anything is amiss in your building’s spending or not, it is worth taking the trouble to be informed in case something suspicious or questionable does occur. (You might have to apply for these documents in writing, but you can’t be stopped from seeing them.)

Become a board member. As a member you’ll be involved in the inner workings, especially setting the annual budget for the building. You will have a greater voice in the decision making if you’re at the table. As a board member, look at the annual budget and see whether it is really possible to reduce expenses without sacrificing services.

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