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What Exactly Do Your Condo Fees Cover?

Condo living is pretty popular among buyers who are looking for something more affordable than traditional freehold homes. Plus, there are a bunch of other perks to living in a condo beside their more affordable purchase prices, including their amenities, low maintenance, and 24-hour security.

But your mortgage isn’t the only monthly payment you’ll have to make when you own a condo. Unlike a traditional freehold house, condos also come with monthly condo fees that every owner in a complex must pay.

The amount that each owner is responsible for paying is based on a specific rate multiplied by the square footage of their respective unit. You could pay as little as $200 to as much as $1,000+ in condo fees every month, depending on where your condo is located, the type of building it is (ie. luxury condos usually charge higher fees), and the type and number of amenities offered.

The question is, what exactly do monthly condo fees cover?

Security

Most condo buildings staff a 24-hour concierge who will serve as security, as well as a point of contact for things like visitors, mail, minor issues, and so forth. The concierge or security guard’s paycheck is typically covered by funds collected from monthly condo fees.

Maintenance of Common Areas

Every owner is responsible for maintaining their own individual units. But the maintenance, cleanliness, and repair of all other common areas of the building are paid for via condo fees. This includes the maintenance of things such as:

  • Landscaping
  • Parking garage and lot
  • Elevators
  • Hallways
  • Fences
  • Walls
  • Gates
  • Windows
  • Rain gutters
  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Gas pipes
  • Electrical systems

Maintenance of Amenities

In addition to the common areas and systems just mentioned, condo fees also cover the maintenance of the building’ amenities, which differ from one condo complex to another. That said, common amenities in condominiums may include:

  • Game rooms
  • Fitness rooms
  • Saunas
  • Swimming pools
  • Party rooms
  • Rooftop gardens
  • Guest suites

Insurance

Not every condo complex includes insurance as part of what their condo fees cover but must do. The insurance policies that condos take out cover building exteriors and shared common areas. Sometimes they might extend to cover things like damage done by floods, fires, and earthquakes. Given this, unit owners are only responsible for taking out an insurance policy to cover the interior of their own units and their personal belongings.

Reserve Fund

A reserve fund is an emergency fund, so to speak, that is saved up to cover the cost of occasional and unexpected repairs. For instance, a new roof or a newly paved parking lot are not things that must be done every year. Instead, they occur on occasion, and the money in a reserve fund can then be applied to cover these costs.

Ideally, there will be enough money in the reserve fund to adequately cover these costs. If not, each unit owner will be forced to fork over a lot of money in order to make up the difference between what’s in the reserve fund and how much needs to be spent.

A condo board that is well-run will charge each owner a small amount every month to be put towards keeping the reserve fund well-padded. That way, when the money is needed, there will be no need for owners to have to pay much more than they’re already responsible for paying every month.

Utilities

The majority of condo fees cover the cost of certain utilities of the building, including (cold) water, garbage collection, and sewers. Some may go so far as to cover heat, electricity, and hot water, and some may cover everything. Every building is different, so you’d need to check with your specific condo to find out exactly what your fees cover.

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of things that you have at your disposal when you live in a condo. But such things aren’t free; instead, you’re paying for them through monthly condo fees. If you’re in the market to buy a condo, make sure to find out exactly how much the condo fees are and what they cover before you sign on the dotted line.