What Do Maintenance Fees Cover?

If you are looking to buy a condo, one thing you will see on every listing is a “maintenance fee”. The maintenance fee is a monthly amount that owners of a condo MUST pay to maintain their ownership in a condominium based on their proportionate share of the building (the amount of square footage they have exclusive access to). Unlike buying a house where you are buying that specific property, when it comes to condos you are actually buying into a corporation which oversees the management of the entire property. You not only purchase your specific unit, you take on the financial responsibility of maintaining the entire property which is shared among the owners of the condominium. Even if you never plan to use that swimming pool, or games room, if you buy in a building that has those amenities, you will end up paying for them.

The maintenance fees are overseen by the condo board, and is used to keep the building running smoothly. These fees can vary dramatically from building to building depending on the services offered and quality and number of amenities. Some things that may be covered by maintenance fees include:

  • Building Lighting (exterior, hallways and other communal areas)
  • Building repairs (from small touch up paint jobs to large repairs like roof maintenance)
  • Amenities – (equipment and upkeep for gyms, pools, party rooms, etc.)
  • Property Management
  • Building Security
  • Building Insurance
  • Maintenance Staff
  • Landscaping
  • Reserve Fund (money put aside in case there are any major issues)
  • Reserve Fund Study (professionals brought in to assess the condition of the building every year or two so that money can be properly allocated)
  • Garage Cleaning
  • Window Cleaning
  • Heating
  • Hydro
  • A/C
  • Water
  • Elevator Maintenance
  • Cable TV (in some cases with older buildings)

TREB Prospect Search Maintenance Fees Sections

If you are working with a realtor and they have you set up on a TREB prospect search, you will be able to get an idea of some of the things included. On all prospect search reports, just below where it has the maintenance fee amount, you will see the following boxes:

Heat Incl: Y or N
Cable TV Incl: Y or N
Building Ins Incl: Y or N (Building Insurance)
Com Elem Incl: Y or N (Common Elements – Amenities)
Water Incl: Y or N
Hydro Incl: Y or N (Electricity)
CAC Incl: Y or N (Central Air Conditioning)
Prkg Incl: Y or N (Parking spaces can come with additional maintenance fees typically around $50/mth)
Building Amen: Will list off some (or possibly all) of the building Amenities which you will have access to as an owner

Here is an example of a TREB prospect search listing maintenance fee section:

Condo Maintenance Fees

Why are the maintenance fees so high in some buildings?

You may also notice that some buildings have extremely high maintenance fees. The typical reasons you might find are:

  • The building is small (meaning there are less owners to share on the building upkeep)
  • It is an older building (older buildings generally may require more upkeep)
  • The reserve fund was not managed properly (The building had to perform major repairs that drained the reserve fund and in order to have money aside for future repairs the fees were increased)
  • The building has many amenities (The more amenities in a building typically means the higher the fees)

To determine which is true for a particular building, it is best to discuss with your realtor. If you have questions about a specific condo building in Toronto where you want to know what is included in the maintenance fee, or why they are so high/low feel free to contact me anytime.

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