What is a Condominium?

Friday Jan 08th, 2021


What is a Condominium?

When most people hear the word “condo” they may think of a single residential tower or maybe a townhouse, but what “condo” really refers to is a specific kind of real estate ownership structure that involves shared ownership of common elements and community decision making. This means that a condo could resemble a park, parking lot, or even an empty field. If you are considering purchasing property in a condo corporation, it is important to understand upfront that condo living involves shared ownership and therefore a responsibility to your community.

Unlike when you own a traditional house, when you purchase a condo you become part of a condo community and become responsible for paying your share of the common expenses and complying with the condo corporation’s governing documents, among other things. You will also be able to participate in condo governance by, for example, voting for directors.

A “condo” is also a type of corporation. A condo corporation is responsible for making decisions about the condo property on behalf of the owners. A condo corporation may also get a condo manager/management services provider to help manage the property and the affairs of the corporation on the corporation’s behalf. The condo property is described in certain documents that must be completed and officially registered to establish the condo corporation. Those documents specify how the land is divided into units and common elements, as applicable. The owner of the land where the condo corporation is being established arranges for those documents to be registered with a Land Registry Office. That owner is known as a “declarant”, who may be the developer of the land. The condo owners (e.g., unit buyers) are the members of the condo corporation. The Condo Act sets out rights and responsibilities related to the management of a condo, including rights and responsibilities of condo owners and condo boards.

Different Kinds of Condominiums

The Condo Act outlines various types of condo corporations. There are two main categories of condo corporations: freehold and leasehold. Freehold condos are condo corporations where the condo property is owned by the condo owners. Leasehold condos are condo corporations on leased land. Owners have a leasehold interest in units and common elements but do not own the land. Under the Condo Act, there are four different types of freehold condos:

1. Standard Condominium

• The most common type of condo corporation in Ontario.

• Has individual units.

• May include common elements, which often include areas such as a foyer, exterior walls, and amenities (e.g., pools, gardens).

2. Phased Condominium

• A condo corporation that is intended to be built and registered in phases.

• New units and common elements are constructed and added to the condo corporation.

• Upon completion, a phased condo corporation becomes a standard condo corporation.

3. Vacant Land Condominium

• The units may be vacant lots at the time of purchase, and the layout of the lands may resemble a subdivision. Common elements are often things such as roadways, sewer systems, and amenities such as parks or recreation facilities.

• The developer can sell the lots as vacant or build (e.g., homes) on the lots and sell the lots with buildings on them.

4. Common Elements Condominium

• There are no units in this type of condo corporation. Instead, ownership is of a common interest in the common elements of the condo corporation by a separate parcel of land that is “tied” to the common elements corporation.

• Owners purchase a part of a common elements. Examples include shared roads, golf courses, or ski hills.

5. Leasehold Condominium

• Developed on land that is leased for a term between 40 and 99 years. 

• Common expenses include a portion of the rent payable to the landowner.

• Once the lease expires, the owners’ rights to occupy their units are automatically terminated.

• Leasehold condo corporations may be less common in Ontario. It is important to note that the Condo Act has some different requirements for different types of condo corporations.




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