Documents and more documents everywhere. Buyer Beware!

G.M. writes:

Dear Paul: I have just moved into a condo building and I am finding out a lot of things that I did not know about before my purchase. For example, I did not know that I could not paint my door a different colour than the other doors on my floor. After all, I believe that I bought the door along with the suite. I was told that I should read the Bylaws. For goodness sake, I was given some 150 pages of documents to read when I bought. I did not have time to read it with the move and all, and a lot of it is in legal terms that I don’t understand. Can’t we just be given a summary that is easy to read?

Paul replies:

Dear G.M.: This is a common question and I understand your concern. Living in a condominium community is not the same as owning your own home on ABC Street. You are now living in one building (there are variations such as townhouses, and bare-land projects for examples) with many other unit owners. In order to guide residents’ behaviour, to maintain the building in good shape, and retain the aesthetic value (the looks)  of the building and its surroundings, legislation allows the condo corporation to enact Bylaws and Rules that owners must follow. When you bought your condo, you also bought into the lifestyle, which includes the Bylaws and the Rules. You probably used the services of a licensed real estate agent and a lawyer versed in condominium laws. You placed your trust in them to provide you with the information you needed to purchase the property. I am sure however, that they did not go into all of the details contained in the governing documents. If you personally did not take the time to read the documentation, you may not have fully known what you were getting into. I sympathize. To create a summary for buyers is a good idea, such a summary exists in the form of a Status Certificate. A summary, however, will not cover everything you should know. I am sorry, but your condo suite, your home, is not your castle; it is shared with others, and it has its own regulations. As the old adage says, “Buyer Beware.” All the best!   

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