Every owner of condominium property automatically becomes a member of a homeowners association, otherwise referred to a “HOA” throughout the United States or a “Strata” in Canada. With that membership come certain rights and responsibilities. The primary right that the owner has is to vote at HOA meetings and elect board members. Responsibilities include payment of condo fees and assessments, compliance with association by-laws and rules, and maintaining a condo unit in conformity with those by-laws and rules. Let’s take a quick look at various other terms you may hear about from your new HOA.
Declaration of Condominium and By-Laws
The declaration of condominium establishes the existence of a condominium property. It gives the precise location of the property through a legal description and describes each individual unit in the development along with the various common elements.
Ownership of an individual condominium unit is defined by the declaration of condominium and ordinarily consists of the interior walls and everything within the interior walls of a dwelling unit. Anything outside of that unit is usually considered to be a common element, such as the entryway, the swimming pool, the tennis courts, the parking lots and more.
This is property both inside and outside of buildings that the individual condo owner has an undivided interest in. It would include any common hallways, garages, parking lots, recreational facilities and open space on the property described by the declaration of condominium. If for example, there are 100 units in a condominium development, each individual unit has an undivided one percent interest in the common elements.
Running a Homeowners Association
Homeowners associations tend to operate like a small democracy. When matters are brought up at meetings to be voted on, each condo unit has one vote. Each HOA has an elected board of directors. They’ll meet once a month to decide on association business and make decisions on behalf of the HOA. The unit owners are permitted to be present at these meetings.
Owners’ Responsibilities Inside Their Units
Owners are responsible for any repairs within the walls of their dwelling unit. They might be responsible for damage to other units from leaks or flooding from a burst pipe. Depending on the by-laws, the unit owner might be responsible for maintenance or repairs of any pipes or electrical wires running behind their walls. The association is responsible for anything on the common elements.
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