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What makes a Florida condominium a condominium?

Many people in the market for a home choose to buy a condominium. Others may be considering buying a place, either to live in or rent out, but are not quite sure what makes a place a condominium, and what a condo owner’s rights and obligations are.

A condominium is a form of common-interest ownership of a property. In a condo, separate owners have title over portions of the property, and shared or joint ownership of the remainder. Usually, this means the owners have sole ownership of their apartment, and share control over common areas like the laundry room or swimming pool.

Owners can sell their units individually, just as if it were a single-family house. The buyer receives the deed to the unit, and may be subject to a mortgage that applies to the unit alone.

In Florida, condos are commonly high-rise apartment-style buildings. But legally speaking, commercial real estate can be organized as a condo. So can townhouses.

A document called a condominium declaration generally creates the condo, whether it is a new construction or a conversion from rental units. The body that manages the building is the Condominium Association, which is made up of unit owners. Among the association’s duties is to create and enforce rules, collect dues from the owners and care for common areas.

Besides the rules crafted by the association and included in the declaration, state law might also impose obligations on condo owners. It is important to understand what restrictions you will have on the use of your property before you buy a condo unit. This can help avoid possible conflicts later on.

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