Who is Responsible for Maintenance, Repairs, and Alterations?

Owners should consult their condo’s declaration to know who is responsible for the maintenance, repairs, and replacement of their exclusive-use common elements. Some situations are unclear and may require legal interpretation.

Generally, owners are responsible for the maintenance of all the common elements that are their exclusive use. Rarely are they responsible for their repair or replacement. But there are exceptions and these exceptions will be specified in the declaration. Townhouses, in particular, show a great deal of variation in what is fully owned or is a common element, at times with costly results. Please click on Issues Specific to Townhouses for information sent by readers.

When time comes to replace features that are common elements, the reserve fund can be used. But if they are individually owned, each owner may be responsible to replace them.

Owners are responsible to pay for repairs and replacement when:

  • They have not carried out proper maintenance or have not allowed the corporation to do so and, as a result, for instance, the fan coil or the balcony has been damaged.
  • They have broken an item (a balcony railing, for example, or the fire alarm system) and repairs have to be carried out.
  • Their guests or tenant have broken something that is an exclusive-use common element or is part of one.
  • Toxic materials, car oils, or others have leaked, such as in a locker or in a parking space.


Tenants have not allowed the manager to come in to maintain the fan coil. After many letters, the manager went in to find access to the fan coil blocked by a bookcase. This bookcase is also preventing air circulation because the filter is right behind. The motor has burnt out. The owner may have to pay for repairs and replacement.

The Corporation is responsible for damage caused by leaks from the common elements, such as the roof, pipes that burst between walls, and leakages caused by worn out caulking outside. Boards cannot refuse to fix the damage because "there is no money." Rather, the board has to raise fees, or do a special assessment, or take a loan to top up the reserve fund.

Unless otherwise stated in the declaration, owners in Ontario are responsible for the twice yearly fan coil maintenance. But condos generally carry out this maintenance as part of the regular budget because owners would forget to do it or might use a person who is not qualified. This could result in water leakages, mould, and the rapid deterioration of the unit.