Experience the Hassle-Free Condo Ownership Journey
So, after months of careful planning and diligent saving, you’ve made the decision to invest in a condo instead of renting an apartment. Congratulations! Purchasing a condo offers both short-term passive income and long-term financial gains. In addition, condo ownership grants you access to luxurious amenities and prime locations that are not as readily available with single-family homes. However, as an owner, you may have questions about maintenance responsibilities. Specifically, who is responsible for structural issues in a condo? Well, the answer isn’t straightforward. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Keep reading to become an expert on condo maintenance responsibilities for owners and homeowners associations (HOAs).
Understanding the Division: HOA vs. Individual Owners
In order to determine maintenance responsibilities as a condo owner, it is crucial to differentiate between the responsibilities of the individual owner and those of the homeowners association (HOA). The HOA, an abbreviation for homeowners association, serves as the administrative entity of a planned community. A board of elected members governs it, establishing and enforcing regulations related to security and community finances.
Generally, in HOA-managed condo communities, the HOA is responsible for the repair and maintenance of all common elements. Common elements include roads, sidewalks, swimming pools, fitness centers, and other shared amenities within the community. Therefore, all structural issues fall under the jurisdiction of the HOA. Conversely, individual condo owners are responsible for the repairs and maintenance of their own units, including the interior.
Maintaining Condo Common Elements
Within an HOA-managed community, common elements refer to the spaces accessible to all residents. These elements can vary from one neighborhood to another but often include amenities such as clubhouses, fitness centers, swimming pools, neighborhood parks, and communal laundry areas.
In simpler terms, common elements in a condo community are features that serve more than one condo owner. It is the responsibility of the HOA to maintain these elements. For example, if a road requires repairing, the HOA covers the costs using funds from annual or monthly membership fees paid by residents. The HOA is also responsible for expenses related to snow removal, trash collection, and general landscaping.
Emergency repairs are also the responsibility of the HOA. If a critical piece of gym equipment fails due to wear and tear, the HOA covers the cost of replacement. However, any damage to a common element resulting from negligence or improper use by a resident is often the responsibility of the individual responsible, not the HOA. In cases where the culprit cannot be identified, the costs of the damage are typically distributed evenly among all residents. HOAs collect dues from owners to establish reserve funds for common element repairs.
Taking Care of Private Elements in Condos
Private units within a condo building or community are individually or exclusively owned. Private elements typically include interior surfaces, fixtures, and unfinished perimeter walls within a condo unit. As a result, condo owners are responsible for all maintenance tasks associated with these areas. For instance, if the windows in a condo unit need to be replaced, the owner is responsible for covering the costs. Similarly, if an interior wall becomes structurally unsound, the owner must handle the demolition and rebuilding expenses.
To summarize, condo owners have exclusive rights over their units and are responsible for all maintenance tasks related to their spaces. This is why having homeowners insurance is essential for condo owners.
Maintaining Limited Common Elements
In many condo communities, certain residents have exclusive access to specific amenities referred to as limited or exclusive elements. These may include balconies, patios, storage lockers, parking spots, and waterfront facilities.
Limited common elements are parts of a common area that serve one or a few exclusive units. The maintenance responsibility for these areas is often shared among the owners who have access to them, as they have a vested interest in their condition. For example, if you have exclusive use of a parking lot or a loading dock, the HOA may require you to oversee and cover expenses for their daily cleaning and routine inspections.
Contrary to popular belief, an HOA cannot assign owners exclusive use of community elements. The terms and conditions for exclusive use are usually outlined in the governing documents, with ownership clearly stated in the condominium plan.
Enjoy the Benefits of Condo Ownership with Peace of Mind
When purchasing a home for the first time, condos are often an appealing option due to their affordability and unique amenities. They offer a more manageable maintenance load, allowing owners to focus on optimizing interior spaces. While contributing to HOA fees is an expense, it ultimately saves owners money and relieves them of certain maintenance responsibilities. Understanding the division of responsibilities between owners and HOAs is key to a frustration-free condo ownership experience.