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With condos and co-ops, ‘common’ may not mean ‘shared’ p2

5/7/2015 | Real Estate Blog

Not everyone is familiar with the concept of a homeowners association fee. If you watch HGTV shows like “House Hunters,” or if you live in a planned community, you may be familiar with the sometimes annoying restrictions that HOAs put on their members. There may be preferred paint colors, for example, for exteriors of homes and outbuildings; some HOAs dictate what color a homeowner can paint his front door. If your lawn is not edged just right, you may hear from the HOA. The monthly dues may not be high, but the expectations are.

Condominium associations may be just as picky, but they generally take care of more than building or development aesthetics. As we said in our last post, when you buy a condo unit, you also purchase a proportionate share of the common areas. The homeowners association manages those common areas, putting the money toward common expenses. Things like cleaning and general repairs to hallways and the exterior of the building, lawn and landscape work are included, but so are property taxes, property/casualty insurance, utilities and trash removal.

Remember, though, that the dues cover the common areas, not the individual units. Each homeowner is responsible for property taxes, general maintenance of the interior and property/casualty insurance for the unit alone.

The difference between a co-op and a condo starts goes back to the real estate transaction. Remember, you purchase a condo from another person or business. Everything inside those walls is yours. A cooperative is owned by the cooperative (organized as either an association or a corporation), and you purchase shares in the cooperative that, in turn, grant you the exclusive right to the unit. The cooperative grants this right through a proprietary lease with the purchaser.

We’ll finish this up in our next post.


Findlaw, “Condominiums and Cooperatives,” accessed May 1, 2015

Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated, 68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann., ยง 4101 et seq. (West), via WestlawNext