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Maintenance Fees Explained

 

Condo maintenance fees are the dues that residents are required to pay as members of a condominium or homeowner’s association.  These fees, and what they cover, vary widely from one community to another.  Some common covered expenses include:

 

alt="Condo association maintenance depicted by a maintenace worker polishishing the floor in a condo lobby"

Common areas

Common areas include the sections of the community that are owned by the homeowners association or by all the owners communally. Common area maintenance includes:

  • Electricity for lighting common areas: Hallway, lobby, clubhouse, landscape lighting
  • Landscaping the grounds
  • Maintenance of amenities:  Pool, sports courts, fitness center, playgrounds etc.
  • Parking lot or garage
  • Private roads in some cases
  • Common Laundry Facilities

Recreation Facilities

There is some overlap between common areas and recreational facilities.  Recreational facitites include any common area tgat is used for recreation purposes such as:

  • Community Pool
  • Clubhouse
  • Fitness Center
  • Playground
  • Tennis Courts
  • Basketball Courts

Utilities & Services

In some cases, an association can get a group discount by including utilities like cable and internet in the maintenance fees.  Some services like trash collection would be difficult to measure if individual owners were charged separately.  Some services are offered to maintain certain standards in the community.  For example, pest control may be offered to ensure that infestations don’t occur as a result of varying cleanliness levels among owners in the building.  Common utilities and services included in maintenance fees include:

  • Cable
  • Internet
  • Pest Control
  • Trash Removal
  • Water
  • Security

Additional Expenses

  • Insurance: The association typically carries a master insurance policy to cover the building and common areas.  The type of master policy will dictate how much coverage owners will need to purchase on their own.  Individual owners are usually required to get an HO-6 insurance policy to cover the interior of the unit and their personal property.
  • Roof & Exterior Maintenance: The roof and exterior of the building are covered by the master insurance policy.  If maintenance is required that is not covered, owners may be subject to a special assessment to cover the expense.
  • Building Reserves:  Oftentimes, the association will save a portion of the maintenance dues for building reserves.  If repairs are needed that are not covered by the master insurance policy and there are insufficient reserve funds, the association can levy a special assessment on individual owners to cover the expense.  Be sure to review the association’s budget before purchasing a condo.  If the association lacks sufficient reserves, especially in an older building, then you know that there is a possible special assessment on the horizon.
  • Management Fees:  Unless stated in the condo bylaws, the association’s board of directors works on a volunteer basis without compensation.  While it is rare for the board of directors to receive compensation, many associations do hire a management company that is paid through maintenance fees.  Management fees cover day-to-day activities such as screening prospective buyers and tenants, maintenance planning, addressing owner concerns, and managing insurance policies.
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