Maintaining a condo complex can be consuming— both in terms of money and time. Whether it’s laying new carpets, refreshing the property’s landscaping, or updating lighting fixtures, condo betterments and improvements must be made (and someone has to be responsible for them).
But do you really know who is answerable for these projects? Many Alberta condo owners don’t.
Fortunately, our in-house expert, Kassidy Poudrier, has the answers. We picked her brain to put an end to the condo board VS unit owners debate, once and for all.
Here’s what you need to know:
Unit owners are responsible for the following condo betterments and improvements:
Any cosmetic enhancements made to flooring, cabinets, countertops, light fixtures, etc, inside a particular unit are the unit owner’s responsibility. The only exception to this rule is windows. In some cases, unit windows on exterior facing walls may be the responsibility of the condo association. It is important to check your condominium bylaws to determine for certain what the policy is in your particular case.
As of January 1, 2020, the Alberta Property Act states that plumbing, electrical, fire, or HVAC issues start in your unit and are caused by negligence or malpractice on your behalf, you will likely be liable. This includes flooding due to clogging your kitchen sink, fire due to smoking within your unit, or an HVAC system fire caused by a dirty air filter—just to name a few examples.
It is advisable to read your condo bylaws and policies to ensure you are aware of your legal and financial responsibilities with regards to damage.
Some condo bylaws list exclusive possession areas as the condo owners responsibility. Exclusive possession areas are common areas that only a specific tenant can occupy, such as their unit balcony, a designated parking stall, or an on-site storage unit.
If your condo bylaws state that exclusive possession areas are your responsibility, you will need to foot the bill for any updates or maintenance-related costs.
HOAs and property management companies are responsible for the following condo betterments and improvements:
Your property management company or condo association is responsible for the upkeep of all exterior corporation areas, including (but not limited to) parking lots, walkways, lawns, siding, roofing, and outdoor light fixtures.
If you notice an issue with any of these elements, it is best to inform your property manager or condo association as quickly as possible. You should also document the date and time of your inquiry. If management does not respond to your request in a timely manner, there may be grounds for legal action on your behalf.
Floods, fires, or wind damage that occurs as the result of an act of God is the responsibility of the condo association. In fact, condo boards are required by law to have insurance to cover any damages resulting from extreme weather and other natural disasters. Any condo building upgrades, repairs, or alterations that result from such a situation are never the burden of tenants.
Any issues that arise from systems within common walls, both interior and exterior, are the responsibility of the association— as are any condo betterments or improvements involving these elements.
These upgrades are completed using reserve funds or insurance coverage, depending on the unique situation.
In addition to the information provided above, these are some important tips Alberta condo owners should keep in mind:
If damage occurs to a unit as a result of condo building improvements being made by your association, they may not be responsible. If they do have to make repairs, they may only be legally required to return your unit to its original condition. This means any cosmetic upgrades or changes made to your unit after its construction may be lost.
Any personal belongings damaged or lost as the result of flooding, fire, etc (even if it originated in a common area) likely will not be covered by your condo association. This also applies to additional living expenses (hotel fees, travel costs, etc), utilities, or the cost of moving furniture and personal effects.
The Alberta Property Act prevails over any other document, policy, or regulation. This includes municipal bylaws, condominium bylaws, insurance policies, etc.
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