Condominium is that form of ownership of real property in which each unit owner has an undivided interest in common elements. The unit owners have financial interest in the condominium building as well as in the building elements inside their unit. The rights and powers of the unit owners are embedded in the by-laws and building coverage of the association. Therefore, unit owners have to obtain information about the by-laws provided by the association.
A condominium unit owner may not decline to pay lawful assessments. If there were to be an exception to this principle, it would be due to extraordinary circumstances. In Wellington Condo. Trust v. Pino, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15541 (D. Mass. Jan. 29, 2010), the court held that even where a common assessment is wrongfully made, absent a prior judicial determination of illegality; a unit owner must pay its share of the assessed common expenses.
A condominium owner is responsible for the maintenance of the unit. A condominium declaration makes the owner of the condominium liable for the maintenance assessments incurred during the period of ownership. However, the unit owner shall have no ownership interest in the condominium after the filing of bankruptcy as the court held In re Dalton, 183 B.R. 127, 129 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 1995).
Pursuant to the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act, a declaration shall provide that different allocations of votes shall be made to the units on particular matters specified in the declaration, for cumulative voting only for electing members of the executive board, and for class voting on specified issues affecting the class if necessary to protect valid interests of the class.
A unit owner can maintain a nuisance action against the condominium association for a nuisance on common areas. A unit owner can legally challenge improper conduct of another owner or condominium association. An example of improper conduct includes non-compliance with the Act, regulation or the bylaws. As an alternative to court action, condominium disputes can be resolved using mediation and/or arbitration. An arbitrator makes a decision after all the parties present their cases.
Pursuant to the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act, subject to the provisions of the declaration and other provisions of law, a unit owner shall make any improvements or alterations to a unit without impairing the structural integrity or lessening the support of any portion of the common interest community. However, the unit owner shall not change the exterior appearance of a unit or any other area of the common interest community, without obtaining permission from the association.
The Act also provides that after acquiring an adjoining unit or an adjoining part of an adjoining unit, a unit owner may remove or alter any intervening partition, if those acts do not impair the structural integrity or mechanical systems or lessen the support of any portion of the common interest community.