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Condominium and Cooperative Law in California

Condominiums and cooperatives are types of "common interest" communities.

These are communities in which each resident rents or owns a residential unit. The residential units are part of a larger building, or complex of buildings, which are owned by another entity, such as a corporation or association. The residents are responsible for the upkeep of common areas, such as lawns and walkways. Rather than personally tending to these things, residents normally pay a fee that covers these necessities.

If you simply look at a condominium or cooperative community, you probably won't be able to tell if it's one or the other.

The basic difference is that, in condominium communities, the units are purchased and owned by their residents, and they also collectively own the common areas of the development. In a cooperative community, the land and buildings in which the housing units are owned by a single corporation or association. The individual units are rented by the residents, not purchased.

Laws and Regulations Concerning Common Interest Communities in Merced, California

Several Merced, California laws affect common-interest communities. However, almost all of these laws govern real estate more generally, and there are very few laws written specifically for common interest communities. Such generally-applicable laws include zoning regulations, contracts, and the relations between landlords and tenants.

Your daily life in a cooperative or condominium community is more likely to be affected by the rules set by the owners or managers of the property, rather than the laws of your state or city.

The owner or manager of the property on which your unit sits will likely have a considerable number of regulations concerning what can be done in and around the housing units. These rules will likely concern cleanliness, noise, and policies governing the presence of pets and long-term guests.

The authority of landowners is limited, however, and there are some rules that cannot be given legal effect. For instance, in Merced, California, any rule which would exclude residents based on their race is completely unenforceable. Such discrimination is clearly prohibited under federal law, private property rights notwithstanding.

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