Goodspeed: Documents that go to condo owners

You should receive several documents, each of which you should review carefully with your attorney.

QUESTION: I am in the market for a condominium. This will be my first home. Can you explain the different documents I should be getting and the purpose of each?

ANSWER: You should receive several documents, each of which you should review carefully with your attorney. The first document is the condo declaration. As its name implies, this document “declares” the condominium association is created. In conjunction with the condo declaration is the master deed.

The master deed spells out your property rights and states specifically what is exclusively yours, what is owned in common with other members of the condo association and what may be commonly owned but not commonly shared. These three distinct elements of ownership are known as unit-specific elements, common elements and limited common elements.

Unit specific elements are the specific areas in which you live and are available only to you. They may include such things as exclusive roof rights available only to your unit or an assigned parking spot available only to your unit.

Common elements are things such as the building elevator and lobby that are used by all owners. In a condo association, there are also limited common elements available to all unit owners. This may include a parking lot available to all unit owners, but not with pre-assigned spaces.

The condo declaration also spells out the specific percentage interest that each unit owner has in the association. Voting and condominium fees are based on that percentage. The percentage interest of all the units should equal 100 percent.

Other documents you will receive include: The unit deed with floor plan. This is your document of condo ownership.

The condominium association bylaws that determine how the property is to be governed and managed. For example, how many members are on the board, how they are elected, terms, quorum needed to conduct business, etc.

The condo association's rules and regulations that declare the association's standards of behavior, such as smoking prohibitions, pet restrictions, rental restrictions, etc.

There is also the condo association's budget and other financial statements.

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and Out of Darkness.”