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Special Assesments

Blog by Claire LeLacheur | February 7th, 2009

Every condo or apartment owner over the course of time will have to pay what is called a special assesment.

Special Assesments are an amount of money that is paid by the owner to the strata corproation for payment of work that has been done, or will be done to the building. Speical assesments are usually levied for preventitive maintenace to the building or brand new fixtures or structures. When reading through strata minutes the most common reasons for a special assesment is for new decks, windows, roofs, or paint and carpet in the hallways.

In many cases the strata council will levy a special assesment on all of the owners when there is not enough money in the contingency fund (the strata's savings account).

In every strata developement the Schedule of Unit Entitlement determines, among other things, the liability of each strata lot for strata fees and special assesments.

For example, if you own a condo whose unit entitlement is 123 (this information can be verified by the strata plan) and we know the total entitlement of all the strata lots is 8675, we can use a simple equation to figure out the money owed for the special assesment.

123 divide by 8675 and mulitply that by $1000. In doing this simple equation your total monies owed would be $14.18.

In many instances, and those who have been through the process will agree, there is never a special assesment of $14.18. Noramlly it is a large amount of money and in all cases the strata will start collecting the money in 30 days. If it is a large sum, most home owners are forced to refinance their mortgage or get a line of credit to pay out their assesment.

For a home owner, if you are re-mortgaging or getting a second mortgage on your house for an assesment that will amount to a new roof, then it is not all that bad. At least at the end of it you will have a new roof and in most cases a 30 year warranty on that roof.

For those that are paying out for building envelope repairs (repair to the outside siding or stucco of the building) there is a usually a large sum of money due and you can spend a long time pearing out from under tarps and scaffolding, it can be quite frustrating. For the Seller there is no escape from this assesment or any for that matter.

If you decide to sell your unit and you know there will be a special assesment either proposed or that has been voted on by the strata, you, the Seller are obligated to pay. It can be fairly frustrating as well, as you might be paying for a new roof that you will never get to enjoy.

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