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Reviewing a condo status certificate

Lawyer Mark Weisleder shows us what to look for in the Status Certificate of the condo apartment you are thinking of buying. Robert.

“Here are 5 items I look at and questions I ask when reviewing a status certificate in advance to give the buyers comfort before making their purchase decision.

Have units sold and closed in this building in the last 3-4 months? If units are selling and closing, it means that other lawyers and lenders have approved the building, and that CMHC most likely has not refused to lend on the property, which has occurred many times when concerns have been raised. This should give you some comfort that all is in order in the building.

  1. What is the condominium corporation number?

Condominiums are registered in numerical order, with the first buildings being registered about 50 years ago. There are approximately 1,000 condominium corporations in the Ottawa area. That means if you are number 999, your building is likely less than 2-3 years’ old. If its number is in the 500 range, then it is likely 25 – 27 years’ old. If its number is in the low 200s, then it was built around the mid 1970s.This can give you some clues as to when the roof may need to be repaired and whether there is enough money in the reserve fund for major repairs that may be required.

  1. Who is the property manager?

When the property manager is a familiar name, there is comfort that the condominium board is being given the correct advice in how to properly maintain the building now and in the future. If you hear names such as Brookfield, First Service or Dell, this is typically a positive attribute for the corporation.

  1. Does the reserve fund match the reserve fund study

The reserve fund study should be updated every 3 years. Be suspicious if there is no current one. The amount in the reserve fund today should be similar to the amount that was projected in the last reserve fund study. If there is a shortfall, then do the following calculation. If there are 100 units in the building, it is likely your unit is 1% of the expenses. That means if the reserve fund is short 1 million dollars, your unit share would be $10,000.00. If there are 200 units, your share is one half a percent or $5,000.00. This is likely your worst case scenario. Just adjust your purchase price accordingly. You can do the same math if you need to cost a special assessment or lawsuit affecting the building.

  1. Is Air BNB permitted?

The status certificate will tell you how many units are leased to tenants. Many buildings have minimum lease periods of 6 months to 1 year, which would prohibit Air BNB. More and more condominiums are trying to prevent this, due to security and insurance issues.

  1. Pets and Parking

Make sure you understand in advance whether pets are permitted at all in the building or whether there are weight restrictions on pets that are permitted. There is no point wasting time on buildings where the buyer has a pet that will not be permitted.

Make sure you physically see the parking space and the locker before signing any offer, so that there is no confusion with what you expect to receive on closing. It is possible that the number on the floor may not be the same as the legal unit number. That can be determined by just asking the property manager for details.

 

Mark Weisleder is a Partner, author and speaker at the law firm Real Estate Lawyers.ca LLP. Contact him at mark@realestatelawyers.ca or toll free at 1-888-876-5529

Note: Minor changes have been made in order to reflect the Ottawa market.

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