John Phillips Real Estate & Property Management, LLC



Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Condominiums:

bulletWhat exactly is a condominium?  A condominium is developed real property that has been subjected to a state's condominium enabling statutes.
bulletHow do the condominium statutes work? Statutes vary from state to state, but essentially, as in Ohio, they enable a piece of developed real property to be lawfully divided into separate parcels of space. Each parcel of space has all of the essential legal attributes of any other separate parcel of real property - that is, each can be separately owned, conveyed, taxed, mortgaged, liened, bequeathed and inherited.
bulletHow does a condominium operate? Unit owners in a condominium jointly own "common elements" such as the land and buildings. An "association" of these unit owners makes decisions and takes actions affecting this jointly-owned property.
bulletHow is a condominium operated? By law, an association of unit owners automatically comes into existence the moment a condominium is created. This association controls this jointly-owned property and all aspects of its use and maintenance. In fact, it is a "mini-government" with powers to determine and collect assessment, and to spend this money in order to fulfill its functions.
bullet Is the association incorporated? Although the association is created by law as an "unincorporated" association, most creators of condominiums incorporate these associations as non-profit corporations by filing charters or articles with the appropriate public authorities. This gives the associations structure and attributes not available to unincorporated associations. These include: 1) protection against personal liability for volunteers; 2) procedures for meetings and elections; and 3) potential protection for unit owners from personal liability for association obligations.
bullet How is the association structured? Whether incorporated or unincorporated, the association's structure is the same, although terminology is somewhat different. In each instance, the members (or condominium unit owners) elect representatives to actually do the work of the association. These elected representatives are called "managers" or collectively, a "board of managers" under Ohio's condominium laws, and "trustees" or "board of trustees" if the association is incorporated as a non-profit corporation. A condominium is a representative democracy, much like a for-profit corporation or the government.
bullet What are the functions of this board? The board has full power, authority and responsibility to manage and operate the jointly-owned condominium property - except  for some major items set forth in the condominium laws or the documents creating the condominium, such as the right to change basic ownership interests or to amend the controlling condominium documents. These powers and responsibilities include establishment and collecting assessments, enforcing restrictions, hiring service providers (such as attorneys, accountants and professional property managers), determining repair and upkeep requirements, and engaging services of others to actually perform this work.

Answers taken from Governmental Affairs, Do You Know a Condominium When You See One? by Betty Sekula, Director, Home Builders Association of Mahoning Valley, June 2000

Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Mahoning Valley, Ohio