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Linda Palfi
CNC Properties
Box 47033 Creekside, Calgary, Alberta
P: 403-998-7732
F: 403-592-8002
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Condo fees or no condo fees; that is the question

           

Calgary offers both new and resale townhouse developments that offer “no condo fees”. While all of us want to avoid expenses, there are both pros and cons that should be considered by home buyers before deciding between a condominium development with a monthly contribution (“fee”), and a non-condominium development that has no monthly charge. I’m not saying that one is better than the other, but that buyers should understand the nature of their housing options before choosing.

           

In a condominium townhouse development each homeowner usually owns personally only the interior space of their home, and with their neighbours collectively own the shells of all the buildings, the land and improvements, which can include driveways, sidewalks, in-ground pipe systems, garages, refuse sheds and playground equipment. In a NON-condominium townhouse development each owner owns their entire home, inside and outside from foundation to rooftop, and there is no collectively-owned property. Simply put, it’s like a municipal subdivision, in that the road outside is a city street. In these cases party-wall agreements registered on property titles likely govern maintenance of the shared walls between the homes.

            

The obvious implication is that in non-condominium homes each and every homeowner is responsible for the exterior maintenance of their property. There is no condo corporation that under Alberta law has a “duty” to maintain the common property, which includes cutting grass, contracting for snow plowing, painting exterior siding, repairing roofs and saving up for re-paving of driveways and for entirely replacing worn-out roofs. In some non-condo developments registrations on each home’s title will require the homeowner to maintain the property’s exterior, although enforcement of such a requirement would probably require civil action by a neighbour(s).

           

So there’s the choice; pay into a collective pot to have things done centrally and deal with the politics of administering that money and of choosing collective priorities, or have no collective pot and be responsible for tidying, trimming and maintaining your property yourself. The choice isn’t complex, but it’s a real choice that home buyers should consider before signing. The costs of home ownership and good maintenance cannot be avoided, although they can be deferred. So it’s not a question of cost, but of approach. If you’re an independent Mr. or Ms. Fixit who can’t yet afford that own-home spread in the country, a non-condominium townhouse home may be just the ticket. If you’d rather pay to have things done, even if not necessarily always done the way you’d like it, then condominium-style housing is for you.

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