New condo buyers may be surprised to find out that ownership doesn’t begin when they get the keys to their brand new suite. Although an exciting phase in the new home ownership process, this period is actually called “interim occupancy.” It allows the builder to finish construction while also organizing an orderly move-in process for what could be hundreds of buyers. And with so many moving parts, this takes considerable time, coordination, and money to be done properly.

When a building is declared fit for occupancy by the municipality, condo buyers can start moving in, usually beginning with the lowest floors as the builder works their way up to complete each suite and common elements. Although none of the buyers are technically taking ownership yet, they can enjoy their new homes and some of the amenities as well. For those on the lowest floors, that usually means they get to move in sooner but will face a longer interim occupancy period than those above them.

In order to live in your new condo before you own it, the developer or vendor will charge an interim occupancy fee. This fee is made up of three parts — interest on the unpaid balance of the purchase price of your condo, an estimate on the municipal taxes for your unit, and a projected common expense contribution to keep the building running. Although it may take some time for the builder to transfer the title, it’s in a builder’s best interest to do so as soon as possible. Builders make their money when they are able to provide the title and register the project, which can only be done when the building is complete.

If you’re currently living in the interim occupancy period, rest assured that you and your builder both share the same goal — to get your building registered as soon as possible. And when you do finally get to experience the “ownership” part of the new homeownership process, your building should be complete and your amenities ready to use and enjoy.

If you feel your builder has moved you in to a new building that is not fit for occupancy, contact Tarion, Ontario’s new home warranty administrator that can work with the builder to speed up essential work. Find more information online at or by calling 1-877-982-7466.