Buying a Condo in Calgary? Read the Bylaws First.
Before making a substantial investment, it’s only wise to do you due diligence. Whether it’s a used car or a brand new home, reading the documents and having the car or property inspected by a professional will save you a lot of trouble later. The same goes for buying a condominium. Every condominium purchase comes with a set of documents called bylaws that is written in legalese. Condo bylaws are a list of dos and don’ts that unit owners and investor buyers have to live by. Buyers often send the document (about 30 pages or less in length) to a review specialist before they sign off on a purchase, but it’s highly recommended that you review the documents on your own.
What’s Included in the Bylaws?
Condominium bylaws state the rights, duties and obligations of the unit owner, as well as the rights, duties and obligations of the condominium corporation and its board of directors. It may be impossible to understand everything contained within the bylaws, but you’d be able to make sense of most of the material. It will tell you what you can and cannot do to your condo unit. For example, if you see that there’s a no pet or a no one under 18 policy and you have kids and a dog, the condominium is obviously not for you. As for the interpreting the rest of the legal jargon, the help of a professional reviewer is invaluable. The reviewer will help you understand how well the condominium is managed and funded, what problems may be brewing and what issues condo unit owners are responsible for.
There is no perfect condominium corporation, and every single one has its issues. The question is whether the issues are grave enough to make you consider buying elsewhere. Political division, major unaddressed issues and extremely underfunded condo corporations are red flags and should be avoided. Like buying a used car, understanding the bylaws will temper any emotional attachment you have to the property. It’s rare that buyers will withdraw from a purchase, but you don’t want to be stuck with a bad deal when you could have walked away. Even if your purchase proceeds smoothly, having the bylaws reviewed by a professional will alert you to any pending issues. If your realtor does not provide review services, you can send it to a third-party reviewer. The cost of a document review is generally comparable to the cost of a full car inspection.
Dos and Don’ts
Calgary real estate bylaws keep the peace among people who live in the condo community. Instead of turning to a municipal law enforcement officer, owners of Calgary condos can turn to other owners or members of the board for action whenever issues come up. Through Alberta’s Condominium Property Act, the Board of Managers act as a mini city council or court responsible for enforcing laws, taxing and running common property. Rules and regulations in Calgary condos vary, but most are common sense, such as how many occupants can live in a unit and whether pets are allowed or not. Other typical don’ts include:
- Interfering with other owners’ enjoyment of their property
- Running a commercial business/businesses
- Causing a hazard in a unit or common property
- Using the property for any illegal activity
- Making undue noise
- Trespassing on other owners’ exclusive-use areas
- Allowing the property to become unfit for human habitation
The bylaws also detail what the owners can do. In case of infractions, the Board will decide on the penalty. For example, an owner who continues to play loud music despite requests from the Board can be fined, and a court action can be taken against the owner. Knowing what you can and can’t do and what you are responsible for in advance can help you decide whether the condo community is a right fit or not.