You're ready for a change of life style, with no more snow shovelling or grass cutting, the ability to lock up and go south for month at a time. Perhaps it=s time to look at a condominium -- a daunting task with all the new construction these days. Imagine your surprise when your Martin & Meredith sales representative shows you an affordable apartment building that turns out to be something other than a condo.
What is the difference between a condominium, co-operative apartment and a co-ownership building? And what do you really need to know? Here's a quick overview.
A condominium, the most common type of apartment ownership today, is a common interest community governed by the Condominium Act, an elaborate piece of provincial legislation originally enacted in the 1960s and updated in 1998. Individual units are separately owned and the unit owners share ownership of common area, such as hallways, roofs, exteriors, and amenities.
Outside of assisted housing, most co-operative apartments or co-ops" in Ontario predate the Condominium Act. Co-op residents own shares of stock in a private corporation that itself owns the building. Each unit is occupied by a shareholder in accordance with a licence of occupation. The number of shares owned relates to the relative size of the unit occupied.
Co-ownership represents a system in which the registered owners have an undivided percentage interest of the whole property. Each coowner has shared rights with respect to common elements of the property, as well as exclusive rights to a particular suite.
A condominium unit can be mortgaged; a co-op unit can't, although in some cases the co-op share certificate can be used as bank collateral. Co-op owners therefore usually must have money "in the bank" in order to make their purchase, whereas a condominium purchaser can finance his or her purchase like a conventional home buyer. Since coownerships are based on ownership of real property, financing is possible, although limited.
Ownership of a condominium or co-ownership unit typically includes the right to sell or lease the unit. This gives each owner a degree of flexibility and independence. It also gives each unit owner little control over who his or her neighbours are. Most co-ops, by contrast, are operated in the manner of a private club: the board must approve new purchasers before their transaction can proceed.
WORDS OF ADVICE?
Treat condominiums, co-ops and co-ownerships like any real estate: Size up the location, the building, and the unit itself first. The nature of the ownership regime should be the least of your concerns.