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Founder: Dipl.-Kfm. Christian Dürr

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    Condominium: What actually belongs to me?

    Condominium Condominium

    Have you just fulfilled your dream of buying a condominium or are you about to buy a condominium and are planning to renovate or make other construction changes? When buying a home, it is often assumed that you can make all decisions concerning your home on your own and implement changes to your heart's content.

    From a legal perspective, however, there are several factors to consider here. This is because not everything belongs solely to the owner of the apartment. Instead, a distinction is made between common property and separate property. In this blog post, we would like to give you an overview of the main differences in condominium ownership. We will also inform you about the most common mistakes and problems that you may encounter as a new member of a condominium owners' association.

    The declaration of division provides the most important information on the use of the property

    If you are the owner of an apartment, it is important that you are aware of your rights of use and also your obligations. The community rules and the declaration of division will tell you what belongs to the common property and what falls under your separate property. As a rule, all co-owners have a right of use for areas not explicitly defined as separate property, unless so-called special rights of use have been defined.

    In the declaration of division, you will find the exact ownership division of the residential complex. It specifies which rooms and parts of the building belong to the individual ownership units. These are also entered in the land register.

    The allocation of the running costs of the residential complex, such as electricity, administration costs or waste disposal, is generally regulated according to the co-ownership shares in accordance with Section 16 (2) WEG. However, the same legal provision also states that it is possible to deviate from this regulation. This is often done with the intention of making the distribution key for costs fairer for the community of owners.

    You should therefore read the declaration of division carefully and check whether it contains a different regulation for the distribution of costs. Since the reform of the Condominium Act came into force on December 1, 2020, it is even possible to decide on the distribution of individual costs or certain types of costs at the owners' meeting by a simple majority of votes. Please note that in this case, an allocation formula previously set out in the declaration of division would also be overridden.


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    Special property vs. common property - crucial for your condominium

    As already explained, ownership of apartments can be divided into two different categories. You can find this out from the community regulations and the declaration of division of your condominium. Special property and common property are generally easy to distinguish.

    Common property includes all structural parts that are necessary for the maintenance of the building, such as the land and load-bearing walls. Stairwells, elevators, roofs, balcony parts, screeds, ceilings, heating systems, supply lines up to the apartment and, as a rule, windows and window frames are also included in the common property. The communal facilities and the individual areas of the property are also part of the communal property and cannot be declared as separate property. However, special rights of use can be agreed here. This usually relates to parking spaces or garden areas.

    If you as the owner wish to make changes to the common property, an owners' meeting must decide whether you are allowed to make the changes. Just a single dissenting vote can sometimes mean that you are not allowed to carry out your project. This is different for so-called special property. This includes all rooms within your apartment as well as ceiling coverings, floor coverings, interior walls and doors and sanitary facilities. As a condominium owner, you have the free right of disposal here.

    However, the apartment door is a special case. In a condominium owners' association, this is a mandatory part of the common property in accordance with Section 5 (2) WEG. Even if the apartment door separates the separate property from the common property, it is not part of the separate property. This also applies to its components such as door locks, peepholes, door hinges or door frames.

    The type of ownership determines the distribution of costs

    In a community of owners, it is important to regulate the distribution of many costs for the co-owners. This concerns the running costs for all communal areas of the residential complex as well as the building's electricity, administration costs and waste disposal. If you would like to find out more about the individual cost components, we recommend that you take a look at Section 2 of the Operating Costs Ordinance (BetrKV). If you intend to rent out your apartment, this is essential. In this case, you should already deal with the issue of apportionable and non-apportionable operating costs when drawing up the rental agreement.

    In contrast, each individual owner is responsible for the costs of the separate property. The question of cost allocation therefore always depends on the type of ownership. To give you an initial insight into the distribution of costs within a homeowners' association, we will give you a brief example: balcony grilles on balconies are parts of the building and therefore fall under common property. If they need to be repaired, the community usually bears the costs, even if it is only a single balcony grille. However, this must be decided in advance at the owners' meeting.

    Since the new Condominium Act came into force in December 2020, a simple majority is now sufficient when voting on some construction projects - a unanimous resolution is therefore no longer necessary. However, it is still the case that if a construction project permanently changes the character of the residential complex, all owners must agree. This would be the case, for example, if an owner wanted to completely remove the balcony of their condominium.

    Conclusion: As a condominium owner, the declaration of division and the community rules are your first important port of call

    As described above, there are two main types of property in residential property: common property and separate property. Your first port of call to find out what really belongs to you as the owner is the declaration of division and the community rules. These can be described as the "basic law" for the functioning of the community of owners. Here you will find clear definitions of common property and separate property and possibly also information on the distribution key for allocating costs within the community of owners. You should also take a look at the apportionment plan.

    Please note that not everything in your condominium automatically falls under your special property. For example, unless otherwise agreed, the community of owners must also pay for the replacement of your old windows on a pro rata basis.

    Do you have any questions about condominiums?

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    Despite careful research and checking of the sources, the author assumes no liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information presented. In case of unclear legal and tax questions, it is advisable to consult a lawyer and/or tax advisor for clarification.

    Author: Dipl.-Kfm. Christian Dürr

    Picture credits: stock photo, 1196188470, sl-f