Condominiums have been around for almost 50 years in Calgary.
The term “condominium” refers to a type of ownership and not to
a type of building. Single family homes, townhouses, apartments
and commercial buildings can be condominiums.
Alberta was the first province to enact condominium legislation in 1966
Conventional Condominium: This is where units form part of a building, structure or complex and are the private domains of the individual owners. Apartment style condominiums are a good example of this. Each unit’s boundaries are defined by the walls, floors and ceilings. Unit owners own the area inside these boundaries.
Common Property: and any areas outside of these boundaries are considered common property, meaning it’s owned by all unit owners. The roofs, driveway, fences, walks, for example, would be the Condominium Corporation’s responsibility to maintain, repair and replace.
Bareland Condominium: Where a conventional condo is defined by the walls, floor & ceiling, a Bare Land condo is defined by the size of the lot the building sits on. Lot boundaries are identified by a surveyors report such as a Real Property Report (RPR), much like freehold land. Areas outside the marked area are common property and owned by all unit owners much like the conventional condo.
Managed Property: The area within the marked area of the RPR including structure, (roofs, windows, siding, landscaping & garage) is owned by the unit owner and considered managed property. Although these items are technically the owner’s responsibility, many bylaws are written so that the exterior repair and maintenance obligations are transferred to the condominium corporation.
Annual Budget: Required by the Condominium Property Act, setting an annual budget is the duty of the condominium Board of Directors. Contributions (fees) are decided and funds collected for maintenance of common property and administration of the condo corporation based on the annual budget.
Annual General Meeting: Once per year, within 15 months of the last AGM, the Board is required to hold a meeting open to all unit owners. At this time the old Board reports on any unfinished business, discloses financial reports from the previous year and a new Board is elected.
Appraisal: An appraisal is an opinion of value that is completed by prepared by a real estate appraiser to establish for condominiums full replacement value for insurance purposes. Appraisals are required through the Condominium ACT AND Corporation’s Bylaws to ensure the condominium is insured for full replacement value.
Board of Directors: Each condominium has a Board of Directors that is elected by, and generally made up of, the unit owners. The Board is responsible for administration and management of the condominium corporation, including policy and finances, as well as decisions about the maintenance and repair of the common property. Some decisions will directly affect your use of common property elements. Unit owners are usually entitled to one vote for each unit they own for each position on the Board of Directors.
Bylaws: Initial bylaws for all new condo projects are listed in Appendix I of the Condominium Property Act, but are usually replaced by the developer (and adopted by the unit holders) with a set of bylaws specific to each project.
Certificate of Insurance: A certificate of insurance summarizes the insurance coverage on a property, including the amount of insurance, insured losses, and deductibles. It is a legal document issued to owners, usually by the manager, and is a required sales document to be provided buyers and also to mortgage companies upon request. A condominium corporation must obtain insurance coverage for the common property. Unit owners obtain insurance for their unit and personal property.
Condominium Plan: Every condo community must have a plan, registered at the land titles office. The plan provides a concise definition of the perimeter of the master lot, location of any and all buildings, unit boundaries and the unit-factor distribution.
Condominium Plan Number: The condominium plan number is a unique number assigned by Land Titles when the condominium is registered (Condominium Plan No. ______). The condominium corporation formed upon registration of the plan is assigned the same number as the plan (Condominium Corporation No. _____).
Condominium Contributions: Condominium contributions cover the cost of owning and operating a condominium’s common property. Contributions are based on the funds required by the annual operating budget, including the amount to be added to the reserve fund. This total is divided among all unit owners according to their proportional share of ownership (see Unit Factors) and then divided into monthly installments. Contributions are commonly called “condo fees”.
Deficiency and Judgement Letter: A statement, usually supplied by the manager, which outlines:
- Particulars of any legal action or claim against the Corporation
- Details of any written demand made upon the Corporation for $5,000 or more
- The particulars of any post-tension cables
- Information on known structural deficiencies of the Corporation
- Details of any Special Assessments
Disclosure Document: When buying in a development that has different phases, the developer must issue a statement which outlines the minimum and maximum number of units, a description of the units and the physical appearance of each phase. Also, the developer must state the basis of allocating unit factors and the method of allocating administrative costs
Estoppel Certificate: An Estoppel Certificate is a written statement provided by the Condominium Corporation (usually through its manager) that certifies that the statements contained within it are correct. Such a certificate is usually provided to the purchaser’s lawyer at the time of close of the sale. Information that is usually conveyed pertains to:
- the amounts of the condominium fees and when they are payable
- the amount of any outstanding assessments owing by the previous owner
- the amount of any special assessments pending
- the amount of any legal claims against the Condominium Corporation
- any liens against the unit
- the amount of the insurance held on the Condominium Corporation
- if there are any post-tension cables
- the names of the Board of Directors
Exclusive Use (Privacy Areas): Parts of the common areas adjacent to your unit are called Exclusive Use or Privacy Areas ie. decks, patios, balconies, fenced yards, front steps, driveway. Although, as an owner, you have the exclusive right to use these areas, the condominium Corporation does have authority over them. For your responsibilities and rights please refer to your bylaws.
Extraordinary General Meeting: An extraordinary general meeting (EGM) is a meeting of condominium unit owners that is called for a specific purpose (usually urgent) and is not included in the regular schedule of meetings. The board of directors may call an EGM, or the bylaws may allow unit owners to call an EGM if certain conditions are met relating to the percentage of owners signatures that are required to call such a meeting.
Insurance: Every condominium corporation is required to insure the common property. The perils to be insured against and the amount of insurance coverage to be obtained may be specified in the bylaws or mandated by the Condominium Act. The corporation may be required to carry enough insurance to rebuild the complex if it were destroyed (called full replacement cost).
Insurance – Director’s and Officer’s Liability: Every condominium corporation is required to carry liability insurance to protect named directors, officers, and employees from liability arising from actions, errors, or omissions in the performance of their normal duties.
Reserve Study/ Funding Plan: The Condominium Property Act 2000 mandated that condominiums in Alberta establish a capital reserve fund for the purposes of the non-recurring annual maintenance, repair and future replacement of major the physical components of the common property. This reserve fund is not to be used for the annual maintenance of these items, nor for any improvements to the common areas unless the owners, by special resolution, allow it. The Board of Directors must have a reserve study completed by a qualified person every five (5) years. Based on the reserve study, the Board of Directors must establish a reserve fund which sets out the annual contributions.
Special Resolution: A special resolution in Alberta is a motion that requires 75% of the total owners to approve who together represent 75% of the unit factors. Such a resolution, for example, is required to amend the bylaws.
Unit Factor: This identifies your portion out of a total of 10,000 of the joint ownership of the common property and determines the amount of your condominium fees, other assessments and affects your voting rights.