The Garbage Isn’t Going to Take Itself Out: Strata Fees Explained

Real Estate Agent with Juliana Vallee Real Estate Group

There are a lot more things to consider when purchasing a unit in a multi-residence complex or multi-suite building than whether or not you’ll get along with the overexcited couple in Unit 9. First off, there’s the matter of fitting your odd-shaped sectional through the front door. More importantly, however, you need to consider strata fees.

You might be asking “Strata what?” Strata fees (also known as condominium maintenance fees) are monthly fees collected from each unit owner in a multi-residence complex/multi-suite building to cover ongoing costs and maintenance. Living in a multi-residence complex or multi-suite building, you’ll have access to common areas. Both you and the sporty woman in unit 6 will have access to property like hallways, gardens, gym, pool, etc. The liability of common property form strata fees. These fees pay for your unit’s portion of costs for things like garbage removal, sewer, landscaping, building maintenance, on-site insurance, onsite-management, and so on.

Strata fees are calculated according to the square footage of your individual property, meaning you and the mysterious bachelor in Unit 20 most likely won’t be paying the exact same amount. Think about it. If you and a roommate were purchasing groceries, would you pay pitch in the same amount for buying two cups of a yogurt as your roommate who bought ten pounds of meat, five bags of chips, a box of ice cream, and a case of soda? Of course not! Strata fees are sort of like a monthly trip to the groceries, where you pay a percentage relative to what you purchased. If you’ve got a voracious appetite – in this case, the desire for a larger kitchen, bedroom, etc. – you’ll have to pay your fair share.

If you think strata fees are just a way to rob you of your hard-earned money, they’re not. Each year, the strata council sets a budget, breaking down the total costs involved in maintaining the strata lot. It calculates your monthly strata fee by dividing the square footage of your unit by the total strata lot square footage, multiplying this amount by the common area costs and diving it by 12. Say, for example, the total square footage of the strata lot was 159,600 square feet and your unit was 1,400 square feet. If common costs were $65,000, your monthly strata fee would be $47.51 per month. The more square footage your unit, the more you pay. It’s that simple.

Consider strata fees seriously when purchasing your unit. The more frills and features your multi-residence complex/multi-suite building has, the more it costs to maintain them, meaning higher strata fees for you each month. That swimming pool isn’t going to clean itself, now is it? Beefed-up security measures may be desirable, but consider that with heightened security, you’re paying more overall to keep your stuff safe (and will have less money for pizza and wings come Friday night.) Take strata fees into consideration before purchasing a unit in a multi-residence complex/condominium. The cushier the living situation, the more you’ll have to pay. Just remember. Without them, you’d be swimming in a bug-filled pool.

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