Goodspeed: Association sets percentage of condo ownership

BY LINDA GOODSPEED/CORRESPONDENT

QUESTION: I live in a large condo development. At the request of some owners, management recently released every owner’s percentage of ownership. According to the list, some larger units actually have less percentage ownership than smaller units.

Since assessments are based on percentage ownership, this means that some owners of larger units are not paying their fair share. How did this happen?

One of my neighbors told me the developer set the percentage ownership of each unit at the time the development was created and that they cannot be changed. Is this true? It does not seem fair.

ANSWER: Your neighbor is correct. Percentage ownership in a condominium association is set by the developer at the time the association is created. And unless 100 percent of owners in the association agree to change percentage ownership, they cannot be changed.

It may not seem fair now, but it would be just as unfair if a majority of owners got together and reduced their percentage ownership at the expense of other owners. You can see why any such decision has to be unanimous.

I do not know why some larger units in your complex have less percentage ownership than some smaller units. Typically, it is just a matter of square footage determining ownership percentage, although I have heard of some situations where developers reduce the percentage ownership (and thus assessment) in order to sell larger, more expensive units. I do not know if that is what happened in your association, but it is a possibility, or it could have just been a mistake. Whatever the background, owners are stuck with the percentage ownership they have. This is a good lesson for all potential buyers of condominium units: Read the condo documents carefully and thoroughly. Percentage ownership of your unit will be specified in these documents.

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: lrgoodspeed@comcast.net.