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Your guide to condo associations

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    If you’ve purchased a condo within a condominium complex, you’re now likely part of a condo association. You may be wondering what this means and how a condo association might affect your lifestyle. Let’s learn more about condo associations, how they’re operated and how they might help manage your new community.

    What is a condo association?

    A condo association (or condominium association) is a governing body formed by the owners within a condominium complex. It’s responsible for governing and taking care of both the community and its facilities by establishing rules, standards and optimal maintenance practices. Essentially, the association keeps the community functioning as smoothly as possible.

    While everyone in the community is technically a part of the condo association simply by living in the community and paying the associated fees, there may be directors or other elected officers (typically chosen by residents and eligible community members) to help lead the community.

    If you’re considering purchasing within a condo association, do note that lenders include condo fees when qualifying you for a mortgage and the condo complex will be reviewed to ensure it meets certain project standards..

    What is a condo board?

    A condo board is a group of elected representatives that have direct influence on how the condo association functions. The representatives may hold meetings to pose issues and vote on solutions to be implemented within the community. For example, they might gather to vote on installing a heater in the community pool. In this instance, there may be residents complaining of a cold pool vs. residents complaining about the cost of putting in a heater. The condo board will vote on this issue and decide on a strategy going forward.

    HOA vs. condo association

    While homeowners associations (HOA) and condo associations do differ, they are relatively similar in practice. They both act as governing bodies in planned, residential communities. However, HOAs typically govern planned unit developments and condo associations govern communities of condominiums. HOA vs. condo association rules will likely differ from community to community, just like HOA rules in one community may differ from the HOA rules of another.

    Standard condo association rules

    If a condo association is responsible for governing a community, there must be rules to enforce. While the rules may vary by community, they usually include things like:

    • Noise control: Depending on the community, the condo association might enact noise control rules such as “quiet hours” at a certain time of night, or a restriction on the size of parties hosted within the community.
    • Garbage disposal: Condo associations may govern how and when residents dispose of garbage. For example, they may require disposal of perishables on a certain day and recyclables on a different day.
    • Recreational areas: Recreational areas — like tennis courts, club houses and other shared facilities — may be governed by the condo association. For example, there may be set hours of operation or rules surrounding how many guests you can bring in.
    • Pets: Some condos may have rules regarding pets. Pets may be prohibited altogether, or there may be rules on the size and kind of pets allowed and where they can go to the bathroom.
    • Parking: Some condominium complexes have limited parking, most of which is reserved for residents. If you have a guest, there may be rules and limitations on where they can park their car and for how long.

    In summary

    Condo associations are made to help manage condominium communities. While each resident of a condo community must pay the association fees, there may be representatives in the community elected to officially run the condo board, which has decision-making authority. While similar to HOAs, condo associations differ in the type of communities they maintain.

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