Let’s talk about maintenance fees

Let’s talk about maintenance fees

When you’re buying a condo, your purchase price (and monthly mortgage payment) are just part of the equation. Depending on the building, your maintenance fees may add a pretty significant chunk to your monthly expenses.

Not familiar with the term? A maintenance fee is a monthly payment to the condo corporation that’s based on the size of your unit. It goes to everything from cleaning carpets to servicing the AC, and everyone shares in the costs of keeping the building running (just like you would if you owned a house, it’s just shared with everyone else who lives there).

After all, taking care of the building is in everyone’s best interest: you get to live in a clean, well-maintained home, and you ensure the value stays high when it comes time to sell.

What should you expect to pay?
Maintenance fees vary widely from building to building and often go up as the building ages and/or gets more expensive to maintain. In Toronto, the average maintenance fee is $0.64 per square foot. So for 800 sf, you’d pay around $512 a month in maintenance fees. (Larger units pay more). You can check out the maintenance fee history of most GTA buildings here.

But wait. It doesn’t cost that much to keep carpets clean!
No, it doesn’t. But that’s because those aren’t the only costs a condo building faces. Cleaning costs are low and predictable, but replacing an elevator or a pool heater isn’t. Condo corporations plan for major/unexpected expenses by keeping a portion of maintenance fees in a reserve fund.

Your fees will probably go up every year – at least a bit.
Condo maintenance fees typically increase each year, in line with inflation rates and property taxes. However, looking for a well-managed building is key to keeping those increases in check: they generally have lower maintenance fees overall because the Condo Board is experienced and proactive, which means they’ve thought to save for major repairs and emergencies.

This Globe and Mail article has some great tips for avoiding big jumps in monthly costs.

Want to learn more? Read up on 7 maintenance fee myths – and how knowing the truth can help you land a place that’s in your budget, both now and in the future.

Maintenance fees typically include:

  • Maintenance and repairs to common property (hallways, elevators, parking area, amenities)

  • Operating and service costs (like utilities, garbage and snow removal, window cleaning, etc.)

  • Insurance

  • Management costs

  • Adding to the building’s reserve fund, which covers larger or unexpected expenses.

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