When Irma and I set out to become caretakers, we had no idea what a condominium was as we had grown up in rural Nova Scotia, Canada. There were no condominiums there and we had never seen an apartment building with more than 8 suites! After we were hired to be caretakers we were given our first rental building to manage.
It wasn’t long before we began to hear the word, condominium. So the question for us was, should we work in a condominium or rental?
Our first rental was about 25 or more years old. It was 11 stories high with small bachelor suites and was easy to manage. An English as a Second Language school was located just across the street that attracted many Asians who had never had the training to keep their rooms clean and tidy. This caused a good many turnovers as their classes ran only 3 months at a time. As the kitchen appliances were as old as the building, the refrigerators were not self-deicing and the door seals were worn out. When the residents vacated, they left 3 or 4 inches of ice in the freezer section.
We had a Caucasian lady up on the 10th floor who had purchased a long couch from a couple of renters on the first floor. These people were into drugs and the odors traveled up to her apartment. They moved out and she was not happy with the odours coming off the couch. She wanted to get rid of it but as hard as we tried it would not fit into the elevator. When we had first met her she was so polished and demure, but that was before the couch. Now, she was cursing and screaming like a banshee and we could hear her all over the building. Finally, she hired a fellow who had to take a hammer and saw to take it apart. We didn’t want to deal with all the drama in this building so after a couple of months, we decided we would search for another caretaking job.
We had heard the terms strata, strata-titled and condominium mentioned from another caretaker and found that condominiums were better to manage than rentals. We found this to be true sometimes, but not always. We met up with our training manager and we talked about the situation and he informed us that there was a job opening in a nice location in the city. He had been offered the job and he had decided not to take it. He put forward our names to the property manager. The next day, our training manager changed his mind and decided to take the job. We then had a call from the property manager who explained they had an opening for caretakers in a new condominium that was under construction. We decided to take it after a quick visit to the site.
Condominium or Rental: The Differences
A developer will form a corporation under the Strata Act with the purpose being to construct a building or complex. The individual apartments will be sold to separate owners. The strata corporation will own the common areas such as the roof, exterior walls, parking area, grounds, pools and recreation areas; in other words, everything but the individual suites. The suite owners will own the inside walls of the suites. The developer will hire a property management company who will oversee the project.
The owners will pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the building as well as insurance, taxes, heating and management. They will be assessed based upon the square footage of their individual suites. These are called strata fees. Once the building is completed, a general meeting will be held and the corporation operation will be turned over to a group of the new owners who will be called the strata council. They will work with and be guided by a property manager.
A rental building will be constructed by an owner or corporation with the purpose of renting the suites to individuals or families for a profit. The landlord will be governed by the Residential Tenancy Act or some other governmental bureau depending upon the city or country of location. As a general rule, the landlord may employ a property manager who will direct the caretakers on a day-to-day basis.
So Again – Condominium or Rental – The Differences
First, the condominium. The owner who owns the suite is responsible for their unit and everything in it. If the sink plugs they must call a plumber or fix it themselves. If the walls need painting they must paint or call a painter. In other words, the caretaker of the building is not required to enter the suite except in the case of an emergency and then to stop damage to the building.
For instance, an owner is away from the suite after starting the dishwasher prior to leaving. A hose slips off the connection and water begins to pour down into the suite below. The caretaker would locate the water supply shutoff in the hallway first. He should call the property manager who would accompany you to the suite below to determine that the water has stopped leaking.
The caretaker’s only responsibility is the maintenance of the strata property.
The caretaker of the rental property is responsible for the entire building including the suites. In the above example, the caretaker will have a key in a secure key box and will enter the suite to determine the cause of the problem and take steps to stop further water damage to the suite and the suite below. He will have the property manager accompany him to survey the situation and schedule repairs to the suite and whatever damage there was to other suites in the building.
A renter may have a kitchen cabinet door come loose, a drip from the tap in the bathroom, a water stain in a window drape, or a circuit breaker trip in the suite — they will have the caretaker attend to these tasks.
There is a huge difference in duties for the caretaker when trying to choose between caretaking in the condominium or rental building but I will explain that in my next article, “Condominium or Rental – Why Choose The Condominium?”
16 years experience went into our book.
- Writing your resume
- Finding a job
- Job interview
- Rental buildings
- Daily routines
- Waste management
- Fixing things
Benefits you may receive such as;
- Rent reduction
- Working from home
- Free parking, phones, cable, hydro,
- Stat holidays
Once you have read CARETAKERS you will be ready to hit the job market.