Condominium

A condominium, often shortened to condo, in the United States of America and in most Canadian provinces, is a type of living space similar to an apartment but independently sellable and therefore regarded as real estate. The condominium building structure is divided into several units that are each separately owned, surrounded by common areas that are jointly owned. Similar concepts in other English-speaking countries include strata title in Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the Canadian province of British Columbia; commonhold in the United Kingdom; and sectional title in South Africa.

Condominia (the plural of condominium in Latin) originally referred to territories over which two or more sovereign powers shared joint dominion. This technique was frequently used to settle border disputes when multiple claimants could not agree on how to partition the disputed territory. For example, from 1818 to 1846, Oregon Country was a condominium over which both the United States of America and Great Britain shared joint sovereignty until the Oregon Treaty resolved the issue by splitting the territory along the 49th parallel and each country gaining sole sovereignty of one side.

Condominium ownership is also used, albeit less frequently, for non-residential land uses: offices, hotel rooms, retail shops, private airports, marinas, group housing facilities (retirement homes or dormitories), bare land (in British Columbia)) and storage. The legal structure is the same, and many of the benefits are similar; for instance, a nonprofit corporation may face a lower tax liability in an office condominium than in an office rented from a taxable, for-profit company. However, the frequent turnover of commercial land uses in particular can make the inflexibility of condominium arrangements problematic.

In a townhouse complex, multiple physical houses are combined into a single architectural building. Each unit owner owns an identified plot of land and the building affixed to it, but that building is physically part of a larger building that spans lots. There is a continuous roof and foundation and a single wall divides adjacent townhouses. If there is an apartment below not owned by owner of townhouse, then it is not a townhouse, just a bi-level apartment/condominium. Legally, this is very similar to detached houses, but because of the intertwining of interests in the single architectural building, a homeowner's association is required. It would be impractical, for example to replace the roof of just one townhouse. But unlike the condominium, the townhouse complex's HOA owns none of the building or the land under it. It is essentially under contract to the townhouse owners to maintain the parts of the building that are hard to divide. Even the walls between townhouses are usually outside the purview of the HOA, being jointly owned and maintained by the owners of the townhouses on either side. Like the condominium, the townhouse complex often has common areas for roads, parking, clubhouses, and such.

Another 5% of Danish homes are in housing cooperatives (Danish andelsbolig), which occupy a legal position intermediate between condominiums and housing associations. The entire property is legally owned by a non-profit corporation in which the tenants own shares; each share carries the right and duty to lease an apartment from the cooperative. Shares can be bought and sold, but often the cooperative's rules strictly limit the price for which they may change hand. (In contrast, condominiums are traded on a free market). Because the official share prices are often lower than the market value and sellers often retain freedom to select whom to sell to, under-the-table payments are common.

In English law it is not possible to enforce a positive covenant on successive owners of freehold land, other than to maintain a boundary fence, without creating an elaborate trust. A positive covenant is, broadly, one which involves the expenditure of money to perform.

Progress was haphazard and piecemeal, but over time things became more standard. Improvements became universal as institutional lenders refused to advance money on the security of flats unless certain basic provisions were included. This benefited owners whether or not they borrowed money since purchase was invariably conducted through a solicitor or licensed conveyancer trained to reject leases failing to meet the necessary standards.

A housing cooperative is a common form of home ownership in Finland. Owning shares that correspond to one apartment in a housing company is generally considered as much owning your own home as actually directly owning a (single family) house. However, shares are not considered as real estate but as personal property and the co-op can take the possession of the apartment for a term time and evict the tenant or owner because of disturbance or unpaid maintenance fees.

 

 


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