Condominiums are a popular form of shared home ownership in Canada. Almost 20% to 25% of housing in major Canadian cities are condominium apartments or townhouses. They are also the majority of the sales in many metropolitan areas. Condominiums in resort areas are also very common.
The word condominium does not imply a specific structural form, but a legal form. Condominiums may be detached, semi-detached, row-houses, stack townhouses, duplexes, or apartments. They can even be building lots, subdivisions, or mobile home parks. Whatever the style, a residential unit is specified and is owned outright by the individual owner in fee simple. The rest of the property including land, which is called the common elements (or common property) in most provinces, is owned in common with the other owners. For example, an owner would own a fractional share of the common elements in the development. If there are 50 condominium owners, then each individual owner would own 1/50 as tenants-in-common of the common elements. The legislation of each province can vary, but it is always designed to provide the legal and structural framework for the efficient management and administration of each condominium project. Once the project documents are registered, the project is brought into legal being as a form of tenure.
Common elements generally include walkways, driveways, lawns and gardens, lobbies, elevators, parking areas, recreational facilities, storage areas, laundry rooms, stairways, plumbing, electrical systems and portions of walls, ceilings and floors, and other items. Parts of the common elements may be designated for the exclusive use of one or more of the individual unit owners, in which case these are called limited common elements (or limited common property). In other words, they are limited for the use only of specific owners. Examples would include parking spaces, roof gardens, balconies, storage lockers, and front and back yards.
There are many reasons why the condominium concept has been economically very attractive for purchasers: better land utilization, price competitiveness, built-in amenities, and convenient locations and designs. There is also a wide price range, from $50,000 to well over a million dollars depending on the features, level of luxury, and location.
Large segments of the market find the multi-family residential development concept an attractive alternative for their lifestyles, due to the low maintenance required and the opportunity for equity appreciation. Condominium ownership appeals to active young singles, couples without children, couples with children, and pre-retirement and retired couples or singles. Many developments are geared specifically to these segments or to a mixture of these segments.
The concept of condominium living is not right for everyone, as it involves not only individual ownership in the unit and shared ownership in other property, but also adherence to rules and regulations, and shared ruler-ship.
In any situation of shared ownership and community living there are advantages and disadvantages.