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July 06, 2021

Condo fees: undisclosed costs can really add up

When it comes to condos, buyers need to balance getting in early — which sometimes means a better price — and plunking down a deposit on a building plagued by poor construction, shaky financing or hiddden fees.

Book It’s hard to think of any contract where the price on the front page is not the full purchase price, where additional charges are unlimited, and where the seller has no legal obligation to make full disclosure of extra charges to the buyer at the time of sale, says Toronto real estate lawyer Bob Aaron.

When he added up all the extra charges buried in the disclosure statement but not even hinted at in his client’s purchase agreement, the total came to just shy of a staggering $70,000, he reports on the Move Smartly blog.

For instance, it’s become common practice in Toronto and other major cities for some developers to require condominium purchasers in each building to contribute to the costs of guest suites, superintendent’s units, carwash bays, car share units and similar amenities.

Typically, the total price for these units is between $250,000 and $500,000 per project, and the cost is amortized over 10 or 15 years, along with hefty interest fees, he says.

In other words, have somebody else read the fine print.  

And, if that wasn’t enough, have a look at the other extreme. Long-term condo residents, who have been were content to keep their condo fees low at the expense of necessary maintenance, are now facing skyrocketing bills they’d like to unload or at least resist.

When the residents resisted the board’s plans to take out a multimillion-dollar loan for the needed repairs, the board went to court so an administrator could take over and impose fees and break the impasse.

In fact, Ontario’s courts and tribunals have been this past year with all sorts of condominium matters. Here are lawyer Christopher Jaglowitz’s picks for the top 10 cases of the year – a very scary list.

Are you a condo owner or prospective buyer? What’s your experience so far? Any advice?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money

* Follow Gordon on Twitter here.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...