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Common areas and fees

With various forms of property ownership, including condominiums and timeshares, property owners become liable for common area maintenance fees. Such fees vary widely from property to property. In fact, common area maintenance fees can be quite expensive. Hence, it is an important area of consideration for all property owners and prospective property owners.

Generally, the phrase “common area” refers to those areas which do not belong to any particular property owner. Rather, the common areas may be used by all property owners. Often, common areas include:

  • entrance ways
  • sidewalks
  • lobbies
  • elevators
  • laundry rooms
  • fitness facilities
  • mail rooms

While most property owners do not think in terms of operating systems when they think of common areas, operating systems are often included in the definition of common areas. Such systems include:

  • plumbing
  • air conditioning/heating
  • ventilation
  • sewage
  • electrical lines

When considering the issue of common area maintenance fees, it is important for a property owner or a prospective property owner to make a careful review of the ownership documents for the property at issue. Some relevant questions are as follows:

  • How much will you owe?
  • Are the fees billed annually, quarterly, or monthly?
  • Have the common area maintenance fees charged to property owners in the past been sufficient to cover costs?
  • What types of repairs can you expect in the future?
  • How many, if any, property owners are in arrears in their payments?

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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