Apartment buildings with lift: what you need to know

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For obvious practical reasons, a lot of people looking for an apartment limit their search to apartment buildings with lift. Being a condition for comfort, a lift is also a cost, which has an impact on the owner’s, as well as on the tenant’s bills. So before ticking the box “lift” in all your property searches, here is some essential information you definitely need to know.

Lifts are an enjoyable service which also implies additional expenses

When you move to a building already equipped with a lift, you are logically expecting to be charged with ongoing maintenance costs, which have a direct impact on the condominium bills. Before moving, collect information with the other inhabitants of the building regarding the total maintenance costs and also ask about potential major dysfunctions or works.

Indeed, if breakdowns have been multiplying lately, a replacement of the lift might have been planned. There again, these are additional costs that the buyer needs to know before signing.

“If breakdowns have been multiplying lately, a replacement of the lift might have been planned.”

Does the tenant have to pay for the lift maintenance?

In a rented apartment, bills are shared between the tenant and the owner. The tenant pays for all the bills related to the ongoing use of the apartment: boiler, small reparations, garbage collection, cleaning of the building. Beyond the cleaning of the entrance and the mowing of the lawn of the building private green spaces, this latest item also includes the maintenance of the lift. The existence of a lift can therefore impact the monthly rental costs.

“The existence of a lift can therefore impact the monthly rental costs.”


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However, the owner cannot charge his tenants with exceptional costs, like major reparations or the replacement of the whole equipment.

Living on the ground floor of a building with a lift: what’s the point?

Basically, as inhabitants of the ground floor do not use the lift, they lose money each year paying for condominium fees they derive no benefit from. In fact, before refusing an offer for this reason, you have to find out more about the distribution of condominium fees. Indeed, each condominium is free to decide on this matter.

According to the case law, the co-owner of the ground floor should not pay the lift-related costs. Yet in fact, unless explicitly mentioned otherwise in the co-ownership contract, this is rarely the case. Indeed, each co-owner usually contributes to the management costs proportionally. As the ground-floor occupants are using the cellar, the garage or, in some cases, the laundry room, so they might occasionally, or even daily, use the lift. Eventually, exemptions from condominium contributions remain unusual and limited to specific cases.

Reaching the top: a real advantage

If a lift is not always necessary when you just need to climb one or two levels, it becomes a necessity if the building gets higher. And when you are looking for a cosy apartment away from prying eyes, higher storeys are, logically enough, more attractive.

Though it usually means a slightly higher cost, using a lift and living above the 3rd level have several advantages: direct view issues are less probable, light increases, sense of safety is strengthened and, often enough, you would not need to heat so much because the neighbours below are doing it for you.

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