What is a common area?

In real estate parlance, common areas are those facilities which are available for the communal use of all tenants in a residential or commercial real property. Common areas are visible in condominiums, apartments, and shopping malls amongst others.

Essentially, the use of the common areas is such that no individual person or group of persons exercises control to the exclusion of others. Examples of common areas include stairways, parking lots, laundry facilities, elevators, etc.

Usually, the owners of real estate properties sharing common areas form an association of homeowners for the purpose of maintaining the facility. As part of this effort, the homeowners associationprepare an estimated budget expenses for the maintenance of the common areas.Thereafter, the expenses will be spread amongst the homeowners.

An example is a homeowner association with 10 homeowners that must maintain its recreational areas frequently. Assuming that the cost of annual maintenance is set at $10,000, each of the homeowners might be obliged to pay $1000.

It is important that users of common areas pay close attention to rules regulating the arrangement. Often times, there may be need to execute a lease, contract, or a simple unequivocal oral authorization for the use of the common area.

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