Condominium refers to a type of ownership found within multi-level apartment blocks and condominium buildings with shared common areas.
The word condominium is actually derived from two Latin words. Dominium means lord (or owner) of the house. Con is Latin for power. Combined, condominium refers to, "who holds ownership of a home."
Just as cities require a committee of representatives to take responsibility over such public works as roads, parks and sanitation, Condominium boards, or councils, are chaired from residents or hired from contracting firms to oversee the maintenance and upkeep of the building(s) and to address all immediate concerns that occur within the common spaces.
Just as civic governments draft laws that pertain to their constituency, Condominium councils create rules that address the needs of the occupants of their building. They are funded through condominium fees charged on a monthly basis.
Condominiums are not to be confused with Cooperative Housing, or co-ops which have different stipulations in terms of purchasing and councils.
In British Columbia and Australia, a condominium is referred to as a Strata.
Condominium living has become increasingly popular for three reasons:
Condominium living enables many to live in a desirable neighborhood at the fraction of the cost of a single-unit home. It also allows residents previously unattainable luxuries as pools, gyms, movie theaters and even bowling alleys.
In order to accomplish this developers spread their expenses among the hundreds, if not thousands of residents who will eventually call their development home. Councils take care of the the basic upkeep of the building and its common areas as well as provide essential services such as trash/recycling collection.
Residents of condominiums are encouraged to be vigilant about council activity as well as to participate in council meetings which usually occur on a monthly basis.
Benefits of Condominium Living
For new condominium owners, the benefits are evident in the minimum amount of responsibility they have to take in regards to the upkeep of their homes. While owners are responsible for everything inside their residence, much of everything else is covered through a monthly fee.
This has made condominiums popular as second homes since owners can leave them empty for months on end without having to worry about basic upkeep.
Councils ensure the upkeep of amenities such as pools and hot tubs, gyms and landscaped greenspace. Often these amenities are enjoyed without the company of other residents!
Rules and Regulations
Just as individual homeowners must abide by the bylaws put in place within their community, condominium residents are subjected to a host of bylaws that pertain to the building in which they live.
Such bylaws can restrict an owner from renting their property. Restrictions on animals are also common in condominiums. Other restrictions can include minimum age of residents and whether barbecues are allowed on patios.
Before purchasing a condominium, it is important that potential owners have a clear understanding of the bylaws in place to avoid future conflicts.
Condominium or Strata?
These two terms actually refer to the same type of residence.
In British Columbia and Australia, this type of residence are referred to as a Strata.
Australia adopted the term Strata (which is plural for stratum, also Latin: meaning layers) in 1961.
British Columbia followed the Australian model soon after.
Such developments are referred to as condominiums everywhere else.
Condominium is a land title system that recognizes exclusive ownership to a tract of land and airspace while acknowledging that domain over clearly defined parts of the whole property are divided upon registration of the respective constitutional documents into two traditional forms
- Exclusive: private ownership
- Undivided: tenancy-in-common shared ownership
These forms allocate ownership via Condominium/Strata titles
These titles are separated into two parts
- Exclusive ownership of an airspace portion of the property, i.e. unit 17
- Undivided co-ownership of all common property
Prior to the advent of condominium title, ownership in a shared residential building was usually characterized as a cooperative, which has a separate and distinct legal definition.
- The Condominium Manual
- BC Laws
- Status of Changes to the Strata Property Act and Regulations
- Condominium Laws