Home Maintenance is one of the many reasons why homeowners choose to either buy a unit in a condominium complex or rent a cheaper apartment in the city.
With many different types of properties to rent or buy, homeowners are finding it hard to make a safe decision.
To better understand what type of properties they should invest in, let us start with a simplistic idea of condominiums, apartments and what homeowner associations mean.
What is a Condominium?
Condo Owners are solely responsible for everything that is within their units (the interior of the condo), any maintenance and repair work within the unit is handled by the owner or a property management company.
However, condos are usually a great appeal for those who are looking for a lower home maintenance lifestyle. Owners share common areas such as pools, elevators, hallways, gyms and other facilities within the condominium complex which is usually handled by the condominium/ condo association.
Each unit owner is required to pay a regular maintenance fee to ensure all the building amenities and the exterior of the complex are maintained and taken care of.
There are different types of condominiums which are categorised into two primary types: Freehold Condos and Leasehold Condos.
The different types of condos include:
- Condo Home- This is a standard condo residential property where the homeowner owns a portion of the building. Everything within the home is the owner’s responsibility. It is more like an apartment where you can own the space you are living in and not the outdoor space or the entire building and common areas.
- Condo Share – Condo Share or Timeshare Condo are commonly known as vacation homes. These types of condos usually have maintenance fees and property taxes.
- Detached Condo – Detached Condo are commonly found near cities where you can get the advantage of condominium living but with lower maintenance within an HOA. Detached Condos are individual units and are different from Condo Homes.
- Private Condo – Private Condos are treated the same as private apartments but the criteria are different from a standard apartment. Owned by the landlord where you can rent out a single unit. It is not similar to a condo home, and tenants are to share other amenities with others. Private condos are best suitable for people who are looking to pay a monthly rent rather than buy.
- Condo Building – Condo Building is a complex with several units that are individually owned by a person. The maintenance and upkeep of the building are typically done by a community property management committee or by a HOA board.
Here are the Pros and Cons of Owning a Condo:
- Low Maintenance – Condo Association or HOA’s will manage property maintenance.
- Condo communities offer quality lifestyle – Proximity to shopping malls, transportation and other facilities.
- HOA Dues.
- Privacy Issues due to shared walls.
- Must abide by HOA rules and regulations.
What is an Apartment?
Generally speaking, the word ‘’apartment’’ is generally used when describing any residential unit inside a building. It is different from transitional homes. It can be a house, townhouse, large residential building or even a condominium complex where unit owners sublet their units.
Depending on the region, people often refer to a rented, sublet space as either ‘’Flats’’, ‘’Rental Units’’, or Apartments. The words are often interchangeable and can be a bit misleading to understand.
If you are living in a single house where the owner rents out a space this can also be referred to as an apartment, so the definition itself can be a bit complicated.
Here are two basic meanings to breakdown what really an apartment is:
If the space is in a residential building, people can use the term apartment to describe it, this usually means condos or co-ops.
If the rented living space is in a single-family house where the tenants pay rent to live there, then by definition this can be called an apartment.
Apartments are best suited for people who don’t wish to take responsibility for property ownership and expenses.
Here are the Pros and Cons of Renting an Apartment:
- Flexibility to move.
- Low Maintenance Costs.
- Closer to many city centers, restaurants and shopping malls.
- Not many facilities to enjoy.
- No Equity.
- Busy neighbourhoods.
The Difference Between a Condominium and an Apartment
Apartments are rented spaces which are part of a residential building, whereas Condos are units owned within a condominium complex.
Condo Owners and Apartment communities have some similarities. These include amenities and locations.
Condos VS Apartments
- Condominiums are owners of condo associations or by HOA board members and they have to abide by the rules and regulations set by the organisation, where the HOA or Condo Association manages the maintenance and upkeep of the property.
- Apartments are owned by landlords, where each space is rented out to a tenant. The entire building is either maintained by the apartment owner, or by a hired management company.
- Condo owners/ landlords pay property taxes.
- Apartment renters pay property taxes for an apartment.
- Condo Owners build equity by paying monthly fees to Condominium Association or HOA dues
- Apartment renters do not build equity; they only pay rent each month.
- Condo Owners are responsible for interior maintenance
- Apartment Renters rely on landlords for maintenance issues.
Now that we have skimmed through the different types of condos and apartments, let us understand how these large property complexes are maintained and controlled. There are two terms that you will come across often when it comes to Condos, Apartments, TownHouses or single-family homes, that is the Condominium Association and HomeOwners Association (HOA).
HOAs and Condominium Associations are used in the same context most of the time, however, they are two different entities overall.
Here is how you can understand these terms better:
What is a Condominium Association
Condominium Home Owners Association or Condominium Association also referred to as condo association is a type of community association of homeowners in the building to work together to maintain the property.
It is a legal organisation that elects owners within the community to create a board of directors who are responsible to oversee the day-to-day activities of the association and ensure that all required community Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) are in place.
In a condominium complex, condo association members own the common areas and they are required to manage them.
Since there is a wide variety of things that need to be handled within a condo association, there are a few general common elements that they overlook such as sidewalks, elevators, pools, roofs, the common hallways, or lobbies.
Some of the limited common elements the association might be responsible for are: landscaping, insurance and management fees. Each condo member who owns a unit in the complex is required to pay a percentage of the maintenance fee, which is decided by the elected board of directors.
What is a HomeOwners Association
HomeOwners Association also referred to as HOAs is an organisation of owners of planned development homes. It is non-profit and is created to help manage and maintain the collective homes or buildings in the community.
Lands purchased by property developers are divided into several lots which become subdivisions creating a community where single homes can be built, HOA members usually manage single homes built within these lots.
HOA’s duties include maintaining common spaces, imposing rules and restrictions, and financial planning and management. They also establish a system for property rights, enhance real estate developments and administer the association business.
Similar to Condo Associations, HOAs also elect a board of volunteers who will be in charge of running and maintaining the community on behalf of several homeowners.
The elected board may also work with community partners, and Community Association Managers (CAM) to make sure that the rules and regulations, applicable laws and governing documents are managed accordingly.
Homeowners pay an annual or monthly fee according to their plot of lane or house.
The Difference Between Condominium Association and HOA
While the Condo Association and HOA have some similarities when it comes to managing properties, the ultimate difference between the two is the type of property owned. The purpose of the associations is differentiated by whether it is a condo, a flat or an entire house.
While Condominium Associations represent Condos/ apartments. HOA’s normally represent houses.
The bottom line is an HOA and Condo Association is set up to ensure quality maintenance and enforcement within the property.
Even though there may be more similarities between a condo and an apartment, there are certainly not the same. As a first home owner, you can choose your investment plans by choosing to either buy or live in a residential building with benefits.
To conclude, it is important that as a homeowner you understand the difference between the properties and how you plan to spend your money. Every condominium unit will not be a condo and vice versa.