How Condominium Maintenance Fees Are Calculated
Maintenance fees are a fact of condo life, and understanding how they are calculated is a vital part of your due diligence when evaluating various ownership opportunities. The default method used to calculate condo maintenance fees in Toronto is a two-step process. First, the percentage of the building owned by a specific suite holder is determined. Then, each suite owner is assessed a monthly fee proportional to the overall cost of running the building. For example, if a specific suite occupies 1 percent of the entire building, that suite owner would be responsible for 1 percent of the overall monthly operational and property maintenance costs. These overall costs are established by the condo board and the building’s management group.
Several factors determine how much of the building a specific suite holder owns. The first factor is the gross square footage of the condo unit, which is measured to the furthest reaches of the walls as they extend to common building elements. In addition, the square footage of any storage lockers and parking spaces are factored in. These three area measurements are added up, then divided by the total square footage of the building, including all common elements, lockers and parking spaces, to arrive at a percentage. Also, management companies typically set condo maintenance fees at a per-square-foot rate; for example, a building with comprehensive amenities may be assessed at as much as $1 per square foot per month.
The actual per-square-foot rate depends on a number of factors. If a building has high-cost amenities, such as 24-hour concierge, valet parking, a swimming pool or landscaped grounds to maintain, the rate will rise. In essence, the more staff required to provide amenities, the higher the condo maintenance fees will be. However, expensive amenities may be offset by building features which reduce overall operational costs, particularly features which lead to significant energy conservation. Examples of energy-conserving building features include motion-activated hallway lighting, geothermal heating and heat recovery ventilators. If condo fees include HVAC operation, hot water and electricity, they will also be reduced if Energy Star-certified appliances and efficient indoor climate control systems are used in the building.
While condo fees are collected to provide for preventative maintenance and building maintenance, they do not cover any special assessments undertaken by the property management company or condo board. For example, if the management and unit holders determine that the interior hallways or exterior landscaping need to be updated or replaced, funds for the improvement project(s) are raised, from the unit owners. Any such special assessments will be proportionally levied, based on a suite holder’s percentage of building ownership. Before you purchase a condo you should know if there are any special assessments forth coming. your real estate agent and lawyer can help.
If you need any further advice as you’re shopping for a Toronto condo, contact Jethro Seymour, an experienced and proven real estate professional specializing in desirable midtown neighbourhoods.