Although having a condo comes with numerous perks, it also entails a handful of responsibilities. For the most part, you’re dealing with financial obligations.

The fact is the cost of property ownership doesn’t stop at buying the condo. If you think about it, settling a life-long payment has just begun after you get the keys to your unit. Similarly, when you’re a renter, you’re thinking about costs on top of your monthly rental fees.

It’s important to know all these financial obligations, including condo tax, to avoid potential legal liabilities later on. Take note that if you don’t settle these, you could be looking at penalties, or -- worse yet, losing your condo.

In observation of the Tax Consciousness Month this March, use this guide to cover all the fees related to your condo ownership:

1. Real property taxes (RPTs)

Similar to other kinds of taxes, real property tax in the Philippines is imposed to fund public expenditures. It’s levied on real properties such as land, buildings, and other improvements.

In the case of owners of a condo, tax refers to the individual unit (which is directly paid to the local government) and the undivided share in the common areas of the building (which the condo corporation shoulders).

Who pays for the RPT?

The property owner whose name is affixed on the title of ownership is responsible for settling the real property tax. Do you have to pay property tax on a condo as a renter, though? No. This responsibility falls on your landlord.

How much do you need to pay?

The real property tax computation uses the following formula:

RPT = RPT rate x assessed value

The RPT rate for Metro Manila is two percent, one percent for provinces. The assessed value is the fair market value of the property multiplied by its assessment level. Twenty percent is the maximum assessment level for residential properties.

Suppose you bought a PhP-1 million unit, the property tax of the condo will be computed this way:

RPT = RPT rate x assessed value

RPT = 2% (1,000,000 x 20%)

RPT = 4,000

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When should you pay for your RPT?

You can settle your real property tax in full or in quarterly installments. If you choose the former, the deadline is on or before January 31 annually. If you go for the installments, the succeeding deadlines would be June 30, September 30, and December 31, respectively.

What happens if you fail to pay it?

For starters, interest will accrue on top of your unpaid dues. You'll be paying a 2% interest on the unpaid amount, reaching a maximum of 72% if the account remains unpaid for 36 months or three years.

If you're still not able to pay after the aforementioned period, your local government unit will take “civil action” for the collection of the delinquent condo property tax. This may be in the form of forfeiting the unit for auction.

2. Association dues

What about the real property tax on the common areas of the building? This constitutes part of the association dues.

The other factors it covers are the salaries of the property management staff, utilities and maintenance costs of the building, and insurance. The insurance only covers the building and the common areas, not the individually-owned units.

Who pays for the association dues?

While real property taxes are the condo owners’ responsibility, association dues can be shouldered by either the owner or the tenant. This would depend on negotiations between the lessor and lessee.

How much would you need to pay?

The exact amount will depend on the size of your unit, the number of amenities in the building, and the overall costs of managing the property. In general, the bigger your unit is and the more services and amenities there are for the community, the higher your association dues.

In the past, association dues were subject to value-added tax; and there were condo fees tax deductions. But as of 2020, the Supreme Court upheld a decision not to subject condo dues to the 12% value-added tax.

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When should you pay for it?

For condo owners, once the unit is turned over to you, you will be expected to settle the association dues. Regardless of when you’re moving in or if the unit has or doesn’t have occupants, you must pay. That said, if you plan to make your condo a rental, you may have to shoulder the dues while you’re scouting for tenants.

What happens if you fail to pay your association dues?

Similar to unpaid real property taxes, you would be facing penalties. The exact amount will depend on the developer. For the most part, property administrators slap a 4% interest on unpaid dues. Until you settle your dues, you won’t have access to amenities in the building.

3. Membership fee

In most instances, condo owners become automatic members. Once the title is transferred in your name, you become part of the homeowners’ association.

However, according to Section 5 of Resolution No. 770 of 2004 (the Framework for Governance of Homeowners Association), a homeowner’s membership is considered voluntary. This is why there are some developers who charge membership fees separately. You’ll only have full access to the amenities of the building once you’ve settled your membership cost.

Who pays for this? Condo owners pay for the membership fee. When they rent out space, they would usually include this in the monthly fees charged to tenants.

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How much is the membership fee, and when do you need to pay it?

The exact amount varies from one condo to another. It’s important to understand the fine print of your contract, though, to know the coverage of the costs you’re paying. These financial obligations start once you sign the membership agreement.

What happens if you fail to pay it?

As mentioned, if you don’t settle membership fees, you’ll lose access to amenities in your condo building. Your property manager may also add fines for late payments.

4. Utility connection fees

Some developers partner with cable or phone companies to provide exclusive services to condo occupants. If you have a preferred utility company, then that’s an additional cost you must be prepared to pay.

Who pays for these? The condo owner will pay for their own utility connection. If you plan to lease your unit, factor this in when you apply for utility connections. It’s important to make your property and includes services such as Internet connection rental-ready for future tenants.

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How much are the fees and when do you need to pay them?

The installation of your utility services will depend on which provider you choose. In some instances, there are companies that offer free activation; and the payment begins after the first month of service.

What happens if you fail to pay?

If you fail to settle your bills up to a certain period, the worst that can happen is the disconnection of your utility services. With excellent connectivity as a pressing real estate trend in 2021, it will be hard to make a condo unit with no internet connection attractive.

5. Parking fee

This is among the common fees new condo owners aren’t familiar with. Yes, the parking space your car would occupy in the building carries a separate charge from the unit you bought.

Priced per square meter, parking fees go up, as the parking space gets bigger. In fact, most parking slots sold in Makati City condos are priced at half-a-million pesos. This is why many choose to rent rather than to buy.

Who pays for this fee?

The person who uses the parking space is responsible for settling this financial obligation.

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How much is the parking fee and when do you need to pay it?

This would again depend on the developer and the size of the parking space. In general, however, the rate is between PhP10,000 to PhP15,000 a month. Inquire at the property management’s office about specific rates.

Being a condo owner or a tenant has a lot of perks and privileges, but remember that it also comes with responsibilities. Property ownership or rental carries with it its own set of financial obligations -- with possible legal repercussions if you renege on your payments. That said, put your finances in order, as you embrace this promising investment and vertical living.