How to Avoid Condo Fee Nightmares

Overworked person leaning on desk buried in papers

We've all heard or read at least one condo fee horror story that makes us think twice about ever joining one on our own. You know, those stories where the condominium board imposed extreme rules for the homeowners in their communities and buildings.

Have these stories off-put you from purchasing your own home where there's a condo fee present? It makes sense to proceed with caution, but it’s also important to realize that there are ways you can avoid being in situations by keeping these suggestions:

Familiarize Yourself With The Bylaws

In order to follow the rules, you have to know what they are in the first place. That's why it's crucial you read through the house rules and regulations that are registered on title by the condo board. The rules are going to vary based on many factors, including the type of home you live in and the group that put them together. Some common rules Calgary residents can expect are:

  • Restricted loud noises from 10 p.m to 8 a.m.
  • No RVs or large vehicles allowed to be parked in the driveway
  • Only a certain number of vehicles can be parked on the curb
  • Decorations for holidays have to be taken down by certain times
  • Landscaping has to be kept up
  • Rugs need to cover hardwood floors to control noise in other condos

 There will likely be many rules and regulations that are imposed on whether you’re going to live in an apartment type condo or a townhouse. 

Read Condo Board Meeting Notes

Most condos in Calgary meet every three months or every month to discuss rules, concerns and other situations that need to be addressed. If you ask, you should be able to read notes from these meetings so you can get an idea of how strict the association is.

You might find that they are easy to deal with and allow a lot of leniencies, but you could also find just the opposite. Look for any red flags that might bother you in the future, like complaints from homeowners about the condo management company or cases where the condo board has made extreme requests to homeowners.

Look Into the Condo Board's Finances

Every board should have a reserve fund that helps cover major expenses, like repairs for building plumbing or other major repairs. If there isn't a large reserve available, then you could end up suffering the consequences and having to pay a huge fee to help pay for the repairs.

Another aspect of finances that you should look at is whether or not the condo board can afford their monthly expenses. If the homeowners in the association aren't paying their dues on time or at all, this could result in larger payments for everyone else.

The lesson here is to do your homework before you ever purchase any type of home with a condo fee. Horror stories are generally the result of not doing any type of research and just assuming things will be fine. There are plenty of buying tips available and some wonderful associations in Calgary, and you can be part of one if you just look to find it.

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