Is Condo Ownership Right For You?

Trying to decide between a house (freehold) and a condo (condominium)? Before you make a final decision and sign anything, consider these seven factors first to determine if condo ownership is right for you.

Spatial Requirements

There are two questions you should be asking yourself before deciding to purchase a condo: Do you need a yard and how much space do you need to feel comfortable? If you’re single or don’t plan on having a large family, a condo might be the right decision for you. But if you love to garden or need ample space for the kids to run around, then a home might be the better option.

Maintenance Needs

Do you hate mowing the lawn, planting flowers, cleaning out the gutters, or doing home repairs? If you answered yes, then condo ownership is probably the way to go. Condo owner’s pay common elements fees (aka condo fees), which typically cover the cost of items such as insurance, water, heating (gas), landscaping, gym/pool maintenance, structural repairs, security and administration costs. Some older condominiums also include TV packages within the condo fee. Whereas, almost all newer condos do not, and also do not include electricity costs within the fee.

On-Site Amenities

Condos also come with many luxury amenities that are incorporated into the price. Such services can include fitness centres, tennis courts, game rooms, rock climbing, and even bowling alleys! When you purchase a condo, you get to enjoy all the on-site amenities that are offered, without having to pay any extra membership costs, beyond your monthly fee.

However, keep in mind that condos that have many high maintenance amenities, such as pools, often have condo fees that are higher than condos that do not have such amenities. There is also a risk that as the condominium ages, the cost of maintaining those appealing amenities, begins to become a burden on the condo corporation, which can lead to yearly increases in the condo fees, or special assessments (a one-time payment required from all owners) to cover the cost of maintenance and repairs.

Rules and Requirements

Each condo is run by a Board of Directors, in collaboration with a management company (in most cases), which makes decisions regarding the rules and regulations of the building. Upon the creation of the condo corporation, a set of documents called the Condo Declaration and Condo Rules / By-laws are approved. These documents, unless the board of directors amends them, will determine issues such as if pets are allowed in the building, if smoking is allowed in the common areas, if BBQ’s are allowed on balconies, etc. If you disagree with the rules of your property, then that condo might not be right for you. This is why it is particularly important, if you are placing an offer to purchase a Condo, to have your lawyer review the Status Certificate of the Condo and Unit, to ensure the property is financially and legally sound, and the rules of the condominium are suitable to your lifestyle.

Urban vs. Suburban Lifestyle

If you love the excitement of the city and would love to live in an urban setting, then a condo can help you achieve that dream. Most condos are located in and around city centres and provide easy access to restaurants, grocery stores, parks, employers, and entertainment. So consider your lifestyle wants and needs before jumping into the decision.

Cost Factor

If you’re looking to keep your costs low, then a condo can be a great option. The hot real estate market in the Greater Toronto Area, has pushed many buyers out of the housing market, or has left them with a budget that only allows them to afford condo living.

The cost savings associated with Condo living can be significant. Not only will you save on the cost of traditional household repairs such as roofing, windows, furnace, etc., but your utility bills and mortgage payments will likely be lower too.

When it comes to deciding between buying a home or condo, it all comes down to your lifestyle and budget. When you need help making a decision or are ready to make an offer, contact us first at Accord Law. We will ensure that your Agreement of Purchase and Sale is written to protect your interests and that the Status Certificate for the condominium is thoroughly reviewed.

Why We Value Transparency Above All Else

At Accord Law, we are dedicated to providing exceptional legal representation and service to each and every client that walks through our doors. We know that every successful case depends greatly on building mutual trust the client and our legal team, which is why we always ensure full transparency so that we can work together to gain the best possible outcomes.

Building Trust

As specialists in Real Estate Law, at Accord Law, our team is always excited and eager to share our knowledge and expertise with our clients. We are fully aware lawyers may not have the best reputation in the eyes of some, and that is precisely why we are committed to never engaging in tactics that leave clients frustrated and discontented. We are always upfront and honest with clients with respect to our legal fees. We never provide deceptive low-ball quotes, and never surprise clients with hidden costs on closing.

We keep our customers involved and informed on all of the essential issues from the moment we retain them. This approach helps us to build trust and lasting relationships with our clients, while allowing us to develop our reputation as an honest and committed team.

Understanding Your Needs Better

We believe that being transparent helps our clients feel more comfortable with us and allows them to open up about their goals and expectations. When our clients are comfortable talking to us, we can get a better understanding of their needs and how we can provide the best legal representation possible.

The Foundation of Teamwork

We believe that trust is the foundation of teamwork. That’s why our team is fully open and integrated with each other, which has enabled us to be committed and focused towards a common goal. At Accord Law, our staff is always on the same page, working closely together to produce the best possible results for our clients.

Better Outcome

At Accord Law, our goal is to always maintain lasting and transparent relationships with our clients. We know how stressful the real estate purchase and selling process can be. That’s why we go above and beyond to ensure that our clients feel safe and comfortable discussing their file with us, and that they know we will be accessible throughout the process.

When you need legal representation that you can count on, our legal team can help. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you.

Real Estate: Pet Restrictions in Condos

As the number of condominiums in the city continues to grow, there has also been an increase in litigation with regards to the legality of pet restrictions in condos.

The bond between pet owners and their pets is undoubtedly sacred, as such, when a resident or potential homeowner is forced to choose between their pet or their home, the outcome is typically contentious. 

However, it is important to note that the topic of pet restrictions in condos is not only a concern for residents, but also the condo corporations that govern them.

Where does the law stand on this topic?

  • Subsections 58(1)(a) and (b) of the Condominium Act, 1998 (Ontario) allow a corporation to make rules to promote the safety, security or welfare of the unit owners and the property and assets of the corporation, or to prevent unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of the common elements, the units or the assets of the corporation.
  • In addition to the Condominium Act, the condo corporation is governed by its declaration, by-laws, and rules.
  • The Condominium Act and recent case law has illustrated that generally a provision restricting pet ownership in a declaration need not be reasonable; however, any such provisions/restrictions in the condo’s rules must be reasonable.

What residents should know:

  • Anyone who is leasing a unit in a residential complex, should be aware that any clause in your lease prohibiting pets is void, pursuant to Section 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (Ontario).
  • In Ontario, even if a condominium prohibits pets, service/therapy animals will be permitted for residents with a disability, as the Ontario Human Rights Code will prevail over the condo’s declaration, by-laws, and rules.
  • Recent case law has demonstrated that under certain circumstances it may be inequitable to enforce a condo’s pet restriction, even when it is present in the condo declaration.
    • For example, if a condo corporation was aware that a resident had a pet for years, and did not enforce the restriction consistently, and now wanted to enforce the restriction at a time when the pet was older and more difficult to place for adoption.
  • Prior to purchasing a condo or buying a pet, owners should consult with their lawyer to confirm the absence of pet restrictions in the condo’s declaration, by-laws, and rules. 

What condo corporations should know:

  • The Condominium Act authorizes condo corporations to protect all of its owners with respect to their safety and enjoyment of their units and common areas. As such, declarations and rules to restrict pets are allowed under the Condominium Act.
  • The Condominium Act also requires that any rules made by the corporation be reasonable and consistent with the condo’s declaration and by-laws. However, there is no reasonableness requirement for condo declarations. As such, it is not fully clear how far-reaching (or unreasonable) a condo’s declaration, with respect to pet restrictions, can be.
  • Whatever restrictions are in force, the condominium must be consistent in informing all owners of those provisions, and it must consistently enforce them.
    • Failure to do either of these things could result in the pet restrictions being unenforceable. 

If unit owners/residents and condominium corporations are able to proactively address the issues listed above, with the assistance of a legal professional, much time, energy and potential heartache can be avoided.

The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained. 

Immigration: Common Sense Changes to Canada’s International Student Program

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has introduced new regulations with regards to international students, which will take effect on June 1, 2014. The new rules continue to build on CIC’s increased focus on battling fraud, while introducing many common sense improvements to the program.

The most noteworthy changes to the program include:

  • Applicants will be required to enroll in and continue to pursue studies in Canada, in order to apply for, and continue to hold, a study permit.
  • New study permits will automatically authorize the holder to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic session and full-time during scheduled breaks, without the need to apply for a separate work permit.
  • Certain temporary resident visitors in Canada will soon be able to apply for a study permit through an in-Canada application – under current regulations visitors are required to apply for study permits outside of Canada.
  • Study permits will become invalid 90 days following the completion of studies. As such, international students will need to be mindful of the fact that although their study permit document may not have expired; their status in Canada may be in jeopardy if they have completed their program of study.

It is important to keep in mind that international students enrolling in courses/programs in Canada that will last for six months or less do not need a study permit, this regulation is currently in force and is not being changed on June 1, 2014.

Please see below for a complete summary of the forthcoming changes:

Current regulations New regulations, as of June 1, 2014
  • Applicants must show that they intend to pursue studies in Canada when applying for a study permit.
  • Applicants must enroll in and continue to pursue studies in Canada.  Failure to do so could lead to removal from Canada.
  • Applicants may apply for a study permit to pursue studies at any educational institution in Canada.
  • Study permits will only be issued to successful applicants who are pursuing studies at an educational institution that has been designated to receive international students.
  • Study permit holders pursuing studies at publicly-funded and certain privately-funded post-secondary institutions must apply for an Off-Campus Work Permit to be able to work up to 20 hours per week off-campus during the academic session and full-time during scheduled breaks.
  • Study permits will automatically authorize the holder to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic session and full-time during scheduled breaks without the need to apply for a separate work permit.
  • However, the study permit holder’s program of study must be academic, vocational, or professional training, and last for six months or more, leading to a degree, diploma or certificate at the designated institution.
  • Any international student can apply for a Co-Op Work Permit if a co-op placement is an integral element of their course of study.
  • Only international students who are pursuing studies at a secondary school or at a designated institution may apply for a Co-Op Work Permit if a co-op placement is an integral part of their course of study.
  • Visitors may not apply for a study permit from within Canada.
  • Visitors may apply for a study permit from within Canada if they are at the pre-school, primary or secondary level, are on an academic exchange or a visiting student at a designated learning institution, or have completed a course or program of study that is a condition for acceptance at a designated learning institution.
  • International students who have completed their studies but hold valid study permits can remain legally in Canada until the expiration of their study permit.
  • A study permit becomes invalid 90 days following the completion of studies unless the foreign national also possesses a valid work permit or another authorization to remain in Canada.
  • There are no references in existing regulations that clearly state that Registered Indians who are also foreign nationals are exempt from the requirement to obtain a study permit.
  • Registered Indians who are also foreign nationals may study in Canada without a study permit as they have the right of entry into Canada.
  • Study permit holders are not authorized to work after the completion of their studies while awaiting approval of their Post-Graduation Work Permit.
  • Eligible international graduates will be authorized to work full-time after their studies are completed while they are awaiting a decision on their application for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, if one has been applied for.


The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained.