What Is A Condo Association, And Why Does It Matter?
When you buy a condominium, you’re entering into a slightly different arrangement compared to buying other types of homes. Single-family homes are governed by homeowner associations (depending on the area), while condo homes are governed by condo associations.
What Is A Condo Association?
Structurally speaking, condos and apartments are different from single-family homes in suburbia. The former are part of larger buildings, while the latter are self-supporting and don’t share facilities with neighbors.
Condo associations are organizations designed to help manage common areas of condo development. These include the shared responsibility of all tenants for communal areas and the exterior shell of the building. The goal is to create a system that allows each member to achieve a higher quality of life.
As you might expect, though, managing a condo isn’t always an easy task. Everyone has different views on how things should be run. In some cases, board members have full-time jobs. This means that they don’t always have a lot of energy to dedicate to board matters.
Ultimately condo associations have to make decisions about:
- Whether certain tenants should be able to continue living in the block
- Which vendors to hire (for instance, to clean communal areas)
- The cost of dues (money paid to the condo association to cover the cost of communal building maintenance)
When you think about it, condo buildings have a lot of common elements. These include:
- Reception areas
- Exterior doors
- Bicycle basements
Each condo is slightly different. Some have more collective property than others.
Most associations define a person’s residential unit within the property as starting at the drywall and going inwards. Therefore, under these arrangements, you don’t actually own the bricks and mortar that make up the walls. Instead, you own the rights to the space inside that they contain. The actual superstructure is the responsibility of the condo association.
If you buy a condo, you’ll encounter covenants, conditions & restrictions, abbreviated CC&Rs. These describe your responsibilities in your unit. In most cases, you’ll own the land your unit is on, or a portion of it. If you buy outright, you’ll get a clear legal statement of your property’s boundaries.
In some cases, the condo association will require you to buy insurance. This is to protect both you and other residents from losses that might result from accidents in your apartment. For instance, you might set off a fire that damages a large portion of the building.
CC&Rs also contain information about dues and what they pay for. Usually, the money you pay to the condo association covers things like legal issues, accounting, landscaping and management. Before the start of each financial year, the board of directors of the condo association convenes. They then discuss the cost of the dues for the next year. Prices are usually decided on the basis of future projections. However they can also make them on the basis of past costs. There may also be large one-off payments, such as for replacing the roof.