Condo living is unique among property types in that it combines personal property and shared property in one living space. The technical term for this shared space is common property. Why should common property matter to you? Well, for starters, you own it, and you’ve invested in it. It’s not entirely yours, mind you; it’s shared equally among every condo owner. But you do have a stake in the decisions surrounding its use.
It’s also for you to enjoy. Whether you’re making the transition from your old detached family home, or a townhome in the suburbs, moving into a condominium is typically a downsize. Common property is that added space that helps to replace some of the open spaces you may have left behind when you moved.
Here’s a quick rundown of the “ins and outs” of common property; we’ll start with the basics.
What Is Common Property?
In its most basic sense, common property is any space owned by all condo owners, accessible to you, but not for your exclusive use. In addition to being owned equally, common property is typically shared equally among all condo owners. Examples of common property include lobby areas, parking garages, fitness rooms and outdoor terraces.
What Is Limited Common Property?
In addition to common property, many condominiums have spaces that fall under the definition of limited common property. Like common property, these spaces are owned equally by all condo owners, but may be designated for an individual or a collection of condo owners. Examples of limited common property include individual patio or balcony space, courtyards and outdoor terraces that are designated for a specific group of condo owners.
Who Manages Common Property?
Every condominium typically has a condo board or council. The elected council manages the common property in most cases; using condo fees for maintenance and upkeep. Council members may oversee specific maintenance aspects of common property, such as janitorial duties or landscaping of outdoor common areas. In the event of any common property repairs, the board withdraws from the condo reserve fund.
While council members are primarily responsible for managing common property, there is also an element of responsibility placed on each individual condo owner. Every condominium corporation has bylaws and rules in place that are applied to the use of common property. These regulations ensure that the property is respected by all users in order that it may be enjoyed equally by all users.
As is the case with anything that is shared, common property requires respect and consideration in order to be shared by and enjoyed by all. There are a number of tension points that can be easily avoided with a little consideration but are good to be reminded of even so.
One of the biggest contributors to neighbourly disputes is noise. If you’ve ever lived in an urban environment this has already been a consideration, but it’s even more important in condo living, particularly in shared spaces. While common property offers a fantastic space to gather together, or enjoy the outdoors, it’s important to remember that you are still in close proximity to neighbours.
Music, loud conversation, phone calls, pets, and children – the list goes on. Noise is sure to carry to those around you when you live in close proximity. While this of particular importance in the evenings, it’s best to be conscious of noise level at all times, day or night.
Smoke And Odours
No one likes smoke in their faces, or drafting through their windows. Whether is cigarettes, barbecues, or something entirely different, be aware of your surroundings as you go about your day.
While most condominiums will have clearly marked rules and regulations for shared spaces, there are some general rules that can be applied as well. First, the golden rule, “treat others how you’d like to be treated”. If you have pets, make sure to pick up after them. It's common courtesies like this that go a long way in keeping common property neat and tidy for everyone to enjoy.
In addition to the golden rule, always remember to return common space to the way you found it. There’s nothing worse that picking up after someone else, especially if it’s a stranger. If you expect to walk into a clean common area, make sure you pick up after yourself to provide the same cleanliness for others. This includes returning common furniture to its original positioning and taking care of any excess mess that may have been left behind.
It’s Yours To Enjoy!
Common property is certainly one of the perks of condo living. Some condominiums have amenities you may not have had at your prior residence that provide you with added space and activities to enjoy. It’s important to understand that you are an equal owner when it comes to common property. This affords you the freedom to enjoy it as your own but also places a responsibility on you to care for it.
Caring for common property is in everyone’s best interest. It ensures continued enjoyment in future, and it goes a long way in being a good condo neighbour.