Buying a Condo – Exclusive Use vs. Ownership

Rachel Loizos in Legal

Between the glitzy sales office and the way condo documents are drafted, it can be confusing for consumers to know what they are actually buying when they agree to buy a condo.  It may seem like splitting hairs, but there is a big difference between buying a condo with a parking space and buying a condo unit and a parking space.  The difference is ownership vs. exclusive use. 

The different rights that correspond to ownership and exclusive use of space are easily examined when we look at parking spaces, lockers and terraces within a building. 

Exclusive use means that your condo unit comes with the right to the exclusive use of some amenity in the building.  This is often a parking spot, a locker or a terrace.  As the owner of the condo unit, you are the only person who can use the other space (parking, locker, terrace) while you own your condo.  If you sell the condo, the right to the exclusive use of the space is transferred with the sale.

Ownership is different.  If you actually own the space that the parking spot, locker or terrace occupies, you could then (theoretically) sell it to some other person whenever you wanted to.  If you decided to get rid of your car, you could then likely sell your now-superfluous parking space.  Be sure to review your condo documents carefully, as there may be prohibitions on selling a parking space without the unit.

Obviously, there is more value in actual ownership than merely having the right to use something.  You should ask these questions before you decide which condo development is right for you – and how much you are willing to pay for a unit.  Read the condo by-laws carefully to see what rights you will actually have when it come to the property you now ‘own’.

Rachel Loizos is an associate lawyer at Sotos LLP in Toronto. She practices in the area of real estate law.
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