No Monthly Maintenance Fees
Q - I'm shopping for a duplex, townhouse or condo rather than a single family home. I'm somewhat interested in a duplex partly because there is no monthly maintenance fee. Can you shed some light on the topic of maintenance fees.
A - Townhouses and condominiums, in Canada, are governed by the Strata Council which consists of a group of owners elected to run the condominium. They assess the cost of maintaining the structure and all the amenities in the building and charge a monthly maintenance fee to the owners for such maintenance. Sometimes the Strata Council will hire a Property Management company to handle all the in's and out's of strata management. The condo owners pay a monthly fee to ensure that the building has sufficient funds so that all maintenance can be made including future requirements such as a new roof.
Often, owners of a duplex do not plan ahead towards future maintenance. On the surface that may seem like a good thing but -- it really isn't. Sooner or later something will need repairs and then the duplex owners will have to come up with the money. If the problem happens to be the roof, the costs are substantial. Since there was no provision made for a new roof, this money has to come out of pocket at that time.
Let me mention something more about a roof on a duplex. This, of course, depends on the regulations in your own districts but, generally, if the roof leaks on one side of the building but not on the other, both owners still have to pay for the roof repair. The repairs do not belong to the owner who has the leaky side of the roof but belong to both owners.
If you do go for a duplex where there are no maintenance fees, be sure to get as much information about the building as possible, preferably by a home inspector and a roofer. Then make certain that you set aside a monthly contingency fund so that you're not caught by surprise. In other words, set aside your own maintenance fund on a monthly basis.
Maintenance is a requirement regardless of the kind of home. You either put aside monies to cover future maintenance or you pay it all out of pocket when it happens.