When renting out your condo, it’s not always clear who is responsible for what when damage occurs.
This is because responsibility depends on a number of factors, including The Condominium Act, your condo corporation’s governing documents, and your insurance.
Let’s look at how these different factors work together to determine who’s responsible for what, starting with insurance.
How different kinds of insurance handle condo damage
The fact that condo corporations are required by law to be insured against major issues such as fire, water leaks, vandalism, and more, automatically takes a lot of the work out of determining responsibility when damage occurs.
Beyond this, while owners and tenants don’t necessarily have the same legal obligation to be insured (although some corporations require owner and tenant insurance), getting insured as a condo unit owner (and requiring your tenants to get insured) can make responsibility distribution even clearer.
Condo corporation insurance
Condo corporation insurance, also known as a Master Policy, is collectively paid for by all unit owners and primarily covers the exterior of the structure, elevators, and common areas.
Condo corporation insurance usually covers common and standard unit elements, including:
- Structural Damage: Coverage for damage to the building's structure, such as walls, floors, and ceilings.
- Common Area Damage: Protection for damage to shared spaces like lobbies, hallways, and recreational areas.
- Water Leaks: Coverage for damage resulting from roof leaks or other issues affecting the building envelope.
- Liability Insurance: Protection against lawsuits for injuries that occur in common areas.
Owner Insurance, also known as personal condo insurance, is paid for by the owner of a unit only and covers the interior structure of the rental unit, personal property owned by the landlord, and liability protection.
Landlord insurance usually covers elements outside of the corporation’s standard unit definition, which typically includes:
- Interior Structure: Coverage for damage to the physical structure of the rental unit, including walls, floors, and fixtures.
- Landlord's Personal Property: Protection for appliances, furniture, or other items owned by the landlord and used in the rental unit.
- Loss of Rental Income: Compensation for lost rental income if the property becomes uninhabitable due to a covered peril.
- Liability Insurance: Coverage for legal expenses if the landlord is sued for injuries or property damage related to the rental unit.
It’s also worth touching on tenant insurance, also known as renters insurance, which offers coverage for things not covered by either the condo corporation or the owner.
In other words, tenant insurance effectively fills in the coverage gaps left over by the Master Policy and landlord insurance, typically covering:
- Personal Belongings: Protection for the tenant's personal property, including clothing, electronics, and furniture.
- Liability Insurance: Coverage for unintentional damage to the landlord's property or injuries to guests within the rental unit.
- Additional Living Expenses: Assistance with temporary housing and living expenses if the rental unit becomes uninhabitable due to a covered peril.
- Theft or Vandalism: Coverage for personal property stolen or damaged within the rental unit.
What to do if there’s a dispute over responsibility
In most cases, insurance will do the work in determining responsibility.
But in cases where it doesn’t, or one or more parties don’t have insurance, there are a couple of things you can do.
1. Refer to The Condominium Act
The Condominium Act is as close to a cheat sheet as it gets for condo landlords.
It’s a consumer protection legislation that regulates condo life in Ontario, applying to unit owners, residents, and corporations.
Specific to the topic at hand, Sections 89, 90, and 91 of the Act speak to responsibilities and obligations around maintenance and repairs.
Generally, here’s who’s responsible for what, according to the Act:
Condo corporations: Damage to common elements and standard unit elements, such as parking, hallways, elevators, amenities, etc.
Owners: Normal wear and tear on their units, as well as repair for decorative or non-standard unit elements. The corporation’s governing documents generally define what is considered a standard unit.
2. Refer to your condo’s corporation’s governing documents
The next step is to see how your condo’s governing documents fit with The Condo Act.
For example, what do they define as a standard unit? This definition, according to the Condo Act, largely determines what will be covered by whom.
Generally, anything within a standard unit definition is the corporation’s responsibility, and anything outside of it is the owner’s.
But it's also possible for your condo corporation to amend its repair obligation. This is why it’s very important to stay up-to-date on your corporation’s governing documents for a complete understanding of what’s covered by whom.
You may even find that your corporation doesn’t have a standard unit definition. Despite there being a by-law requiring a standard unit definition to be defined by the declarant within 30 days of the turn-over meeting, some condos still don’t have one.
In this case, the path forward may not be so clear; you’ll likely have to explore other options for determining responsibility.
Fill your condo unit faster, safer, and easier
Hopefully, with this information, you now know what to do in the unfortunate case that your condo suffers damage. For an easy to-do list to take with you:
- Acquaint yourself with your condo corporation insurance coverage
- Get owner insurance for your unit(s)
- Require tenants (if they’re not already required by your corporation) to get insurance
- In the case that insurance doesn’t help or doesn’t exist, refer to The Condominium Act
- See how your corporation’s governing documents line up with the Act’s regulations
And of course, step one is choosing and signing the right tenant, one that you can trust.
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The blog posts on this website are for the purpose of general introductory information. They can’t serve as an opinion or professional advice. Speak to a professional before making decisions related to your circumstances.