Monthly condo maintenance fees – where do they go?

“Maintenance fees” can be a bit of a mystery to new buyers.  It seems clear these monthly expenses go towards the operation and maintenance of your building, but what does that look like, and is that the only amount that you’ll ever be required to pay?

A breakdown of maintenance fees

Some shared building expenditures are fairly obvious, such as landscaping, concierge staff, reception area, gym, pool or other amenities that are there for the benefit of all residents. Other expenses are less visible, but arguably more essential, such as utilities to heat or cool common areas, power elevators and lights, provide security and insurance coverage for sudden failures or disasters.

You should look at your strata corporation’s budget to see the exact breakdown for the building, and compare these to other buildings of a similar size, age and ideally with similar amenities. 

So, isn’t a lower condo maintenance fee better?

A below-average maintenance fee might seem great at face-value, but it could mean several things. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Newer buildings may require less maintenance over the first several years
  • Well-constructed buildings have fewer issues than poorly-constructed ones
  • Buildings with fewer amenities (concierge, pool, gym, elevators, etc) have less to maintain
  • Your condo corporation might be more efficient or frugal than others when it comes to non-essential expenditures, or seek more quotes to keep costs down
  • It’s possible the strata council is deliberately delaying maintenance, which shows poor governance
  • Some stratas choose not to build up a healthy cash reserve, and instead fund all major expenses by special levy

How can Eli help?

There is a chance that by contributing too little, major projects will have to be undertaken with additional funding.  Learn more about these essential expenses, which are payable by owners on top of regular maintenance fees, in our post on special levies.

A strata’s documentation is the best place to uncover clues about your building’s budget and maintenance fees. Owners wanting to understand how their community compares can sign up and run a free Eli Report.

Buyers, talk to your Realtor about getting an Eli Report on the next condo you are looking at, so we can make assessing the health of your potential community easier!