When you buy a condo, co-op or property in a homeowner association, its like traveling to a foreign country because you agree to abide by the rules of another government. Rules that limit how you use and enjoy your property (ie no BBQ grills, no fat dogs, no renting!)

The deed to your condo says your ownership rights are subject to the condominium documents, the “Condo Docs” aka “The Bible of the Condo.”  Condo Docs include more rules than the 10 Commandments and are just as  important to understand to live peacefully and not incur the wrath of the Condo Association!

Condo Docs are not a mystery, they are public records, but they are also very long and sometimes people think they are boring to read.

They are important to read because condo rules restrict property rights.

If you don’t read the Condo Doc rules, you may be surprised when you find out after your purchase that:

  • No pets allowed
  • No dogs over 25 pounds are allowed
  • All pets must be interviewed and weighed by the condo manager
  • Guests may only stay overnight for 3 nights
  • The owner may not rent out the property
  • The owner may only rent the property once a year
  • The owner must live in the property for one year before renting or selling
  • No BBQ Grills Allowed

The founders of the United States were so suspicious of restrictions on property rights that they included the right to property, in the Bill of Rights (along with the right to life and liberty)! The right to property includes the right to use the property how you want.

In real life, people enter into contracts that limit how they can use their property everyday.  For example, someone may buy a condo because he wants to swim in the big swimming pool and agree that he won’t put a bbq on his balcony.  (He is agreeing to limit his rights to use his balcony)

State law governs condominium ownership types. State governments understand sometime people agree to limit their rights to be able to share common benefits, but states still monitor and regulate rules that limit an owner use of their property.

I bet your state offers a time period to allow Buyers to read the restrictions on property uses, before being bound to buy the condo.**

Be sure to read your Condo Docs to make sure that you understand the new government and that you can live with the rules and restrictions.

If you don’t like the idea of a condo or co-ops’ restrictions on ownership, think about buying a single family home or an apartment building.

**Stay Tuned!  The next blog in the Professor Real Estate® Urban Legends Condo/Co-op Series is  about the time period your state gives you to study the Condo Docs and make sure the deal is right for you! 

Learn how you can cancel your contract and get your full deposit back without penalty, if during this period you decide the deal isn’t right for you.

Disclaimer: Professor Real Estate® written materials apply generally to real estate subjects and are not intended to apply to specific legal issues.

This is the first blog in the Professor Real Estate® Condo/Co-op Series.

Copyright © 2012 Suzanne Hollander, Professor Real Estate®

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