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Who pays for repairs to common elements of a condominium?

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For many people in Michigan, owning a condominium offers the dual benefit of being an owner but not being fully responsible for every issue that crops up as they would if they owned a private house. These properties have amenities and the responsibility is shared among the owners. A condominium association is in place to protect everyone’s interests. However, while this sounds like a win-win situation, there are complications that may arise. Since it is a shared property, common elements frequently come to the forefront. Understanding what these are and how repairs to these common elements are handled based on regulations is key.

What owners should know

Common elements in a condominium can include the hallways, lobbies, play areas, the lawn, private roads, electricity, heat and water. If damage occurs and needs to be fixed, improvements are desired, or maintenance is required, then the owners are expected to share the cost. The condominium association will have a reserve fund designed to cover for major repairs and replacement of these areas.

Every year, 10% of the budget must be set aside for this. If the costs go beyond the amount in the fund, the owners can be assessed to make up the difference. Even if an owner does not use some or all the common elements, that does not eliminate responsibility for paying this assessment.

There is a difference between a general and a limited common element. If an area is restricted in its use, then it is a limited common element. If a person has a parking space as part of owning a unit in the condominium, then it is a limited element. If a person has a private yard, that too can be a limited element. Shared recreation facilities, the private roads and other areas that can be used by every owner are general common elements.

Disputes may require legal advice

Since the cost of repairs can be significant, it is understandable that disputes may arise. From the perspective of the condominium association, it is a standard part of the agreement for owners to share in the costs and be assessed if they go beyond the funds already available. For owners, there could be a disagreement as to the extent of the repairs and whether the association sought the best price to handle the job efficiently. For either side, it is important to have professional assistance to navigate the situation and find a workable solution.