Explaining Monthly Condo fees

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Lots of my clients have questions about the dreaded ‘maintenance fees’ associated with Toronto condos I’m going to de-mystify them for you! 

If you're buying a condo it's important to know how much the maintenance fees per month, as your lender will take 50% of the condo fees into consideration when they are looking at your finances.  

Very simply, condo fees are calculated on the square footage you own, and a % of the common areas (like the halls, lobby, gym, elevators, recreational facilities).   So if you own more, like a larger unit, an extra parking spot, a locker you’ll pay more per month.  

The actual fees in Toronto are around 67 cents a square foot; but there’s a really wide range – I’ll talk about why that is next.   If you find a condo that has monthly fees are about $1.00 a square foot or more, than you’re in a building with higher fees.  

Click here to watch my 3.5 minute video - Monthly Condo Fees or click on the picture below!

Before I cover what's in the video here, here are some additional Pro Tips: 

1.  Pro Tip - understand how fees work to set your budget and expectations

Did you know that Toronto condo fees can have a direct relationship with the price you pay for a condo? Many of my clients wish list looks like this: 

"Sue I want a big condo with low fees and all utilities included in a new building"   Is that even possible on a modest budget?  Let's call those features the "holy grail" of condos.  Is it even possible to find that?  Well, yes, if you have a higher budget than average,,,,

It may be if you are looking to spend over the Toronto condo price average.  But if you're looking to spend under the Toronto condo price average (right now it's $730,792) it just makes sense that you will not likely find the "holy grail" with a below average budget. 

2. Pro Tip - there is a relationship between price and monthly condo fees

I mention in the video that monthly condo fees can range from an average of .65 per square foot (you'll have a hard time finding a 2 bedroom with fees under $600 per month) to over $1.00 per square foot.

There are 2 types of condos in Durham and Toronto where you can find $1.00 and up

  • Luxury buildings that are in wealthy neighborhoods 
  • Condo buildings that have had to increase fees to cover extraordinary repairs.   I will say generally (but not exclusively) these buildings are older & have a lower income owners or owners on a fixed income.  They have not agreed to increase the monthly fees to cover repairs over time; consequently have had large condo fee hikes for emergency repairs.  This depresses the prices in the building.  

But, don't worry,  you will be able to check that out before you buy!  That's the subject of my next video!!

3.  Pro Tip: is it a bad idea to buy an older condo?

Older condos can be a great option -  this is where you find the sweet spot of size & community.  I like older condos because:

  • you can get an idea of the community
  • they are larger
  • if they have been well managed, fees increases will be modest over time
  • large costly repairs may have already happened (therefore been paid for)

So back to how fees have changed over time; 

So why is there such a wide range of fees and what to they cover?   

The first condo in Toronto was built in 1968, they were heavily advertised as a great option for downsizers.   To attract this clientele, the condos were created as maintenance free living – large units with luxurious amenities.   So, similar to an apartment utilities and upkeep were included in the monthly fees.   Indeed many older buildings still include all utilities in their monthly fees as well as cable TV & internet packages.

Here's an article from Tridel on First Condos in North America

Over time, the provincial government encouraged builders to become more energy efficient.  Condo boards also looked to manage fee increases by downloading some utility costs to the suite owners.  Consequently you’ll find buildings built in the 1980’s include fewer utilities.

So what do those fees cover?   Think of a pie chart with a slices allocated to different things - see the example below.  One slice goes to a reserve fund, where funds are reserved for upcoming repairs & capital improvements.  One slice is for utilities, one slice can be for groundskeeping and landscaping etc.  The owners form a board of directors that oversees the management of the building year to year.   

Who regulates condominiums in Ontario? Rules for how a condo operates are governed by Provincial legislation called the Ontario Condominium Act. If you’re buying a condo, the property management is obligated to provide you with the financials – called a Status Certificate to review with your lawyer – I’ll be talking more about that in the next video! 

Other helpful articles and resources: 

Buying an older condo in Toronto

Condominium Authority of Toronto

If you’d like to learn more, please call me at 416-562-5002.   

Download your FREE copy of the Ontario Condominium Buyers Guide here 

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A disturbing trend I've come across recently is the fraud in the rental space.   As an agent who handles a fair share of rentals; these issues have shown up over several ways this year.   I'll tell you about 3 instances I've had and the red flags that appeared with each! 

When I'm representing a landlord and an application comes in, I spend a lot of time going through an applicants documentation and getting references and looking through their background.  Here's what I do:

  • Call their employer by finding the employer's website and calling through their office to confirm employment.  I don't just call the supervisor on the application
  • Look carefully at the documents to see if they are real; company letterhead & credit reports can be faked or bought
  • Check social media & linked in
  • Call past landlords
  • Make sure there is a building at the address they're currently renting
  • Check that the landlords name and property owners names match.   If it's an apartment building call through the property management company if it's an apartment rather than calling the number provided.
  • Look at the credit report for signs of altering

With those things in mind, let's look at 3 things that have happened to me this year!

1.  Student rental Scam - fake rental and landlord

First of all, you should never have to pay to submit a rental application, or be asked for a deposit before you get a chance to see the place.   These scams are generally ads on sites like Kijijii and Facebook for rentals that look too good to be true.  They also steal MLS listings for homes and advertise them at lower rates.  I came across one recently through a family friend desperate for some student housing.  It was a big scam; and when I called them out they 'protested too much'.    Here's how to spot these scammers:

  • They demand payment to submit a rental application
  • They demand a deposit before you see the unit
  • Makes excuses why they are not available to speak to on the phone 
  • Will only communicate through messenger, text or email
  • The advertised price is way lower than other rentals
  • Their Facebook profile was just created
  • Their Facebook name does not match their user name ID (see the URL) 

2. Fake Rental Applications   

There are some very good forged documents out there.  I had some people submit an application on a lease I was advertising and here's what I found during the checks, among the other checks I did as above :

  • Inconsistencies in addresses on the application
  • Employment letter does not look real - no header or footer with information on the company letterhead

3. Forged Tenacy Papers

I had a call from a gal who had a great story, good employment, good credit, moving to Toronto from outside the city for work, can't come in to look for a place so needed virtual showings.  Could I help her find a place.  Sounds great right?  

Now I don't usually check tenants out before I help them (and I'd helped out a client with an out of town move this year already in a similar situation)  But with everything going on right now, I felt it couldn't hurt to see what her references would say.   So she sent in her application & 

then came the paperwork - the address of her job didn't match up with her story.  The company had never heard of her or her supervisor.  There was even no property listed at the home she had put for her address!  Other red flags for scammers include what she did:

  • get overly upset when called out 
  • provide complicated excuses for 'mistakes' on application forms
  • call the fact checker a liar, unprofessional, etc.

So be careful out there folks! 


A big thank you to the communities of Guildwood, West Rouge & Port Union for the terrific support last Saturday for my Community Shredding Event.  About 30 families participated - and their generous food donations filled our Jeep to the brim!   The food donations were taken straight to Feed Scarborough - the Scarborough Food Security initiative and will be distributed to local satellite food banks in the area.   Judging from the huge line up outside the Manse Rd. food bank Saturday, it's much needed. 

Chartwell Guildwood was my partner for this event and provided the venue and great snacks.  Thank you Kelly & Dianne for your wonderful support.  As always, Papersavers was gracious, friendly, professional and helpful!  

One interesting sideline - My husband, myself, Dianne and Alex from papersavers all grew up within the same area!   Such a big city/small world!