Condos have their own rules

Purchasing a Condo

If you purchased a condominium lately, you likely had a stack of documents handed to you.  

“When you buy a condominium, you are required to see these condominium documents as a condition to purchasing the unit,” said attorney Robert Smyth, whose practice areas include business and real estate law. “If you have objections, you can void the contract.” 

Smyth has prepared these documents for condominium developers from the ground up and for converters who turn existing buildings into condominiums.

Among documents is the condominium plat, created by a surveyor and which needs approval from government agencies along with the project plans. The Register of Deeds records the plat and the Condominium Declaration, similar to a deed for a house or some other property.

“It’s like rezoning the property where the condominium will be located,” Smyth said.

The declaration includes general descriptions of the land and each unit, as well as common elements like the building lobby and grounds. Some common areas, such as balconies or patios, are considered to be limited common property as their uses are connected with specific units.

The Articles and Bylaws describe operations for the nonprofit condominium association, composed of unit owners who elect a board of directors and officers. “As a condominium owner, you own the air between the walls of your unit and a membership in the association,” Smyth said. “You have your own insurance for your unit and do maintenance for your unit.”

The association holds annual meetings to discuss business and elect the board, which budgets maintenance costs, taxes, insurance and other expenses for the general facility inside and out. The association board determines assessments for unit owners, including special assessments for something unexpected, such as a roof replacement.  

“Buyers should want to see rules for the association, such as for pets, and how the association is structured,” Smyth said. “They should read them or at least know what’s in them.”

La Crosse Business LawyerInformation provided by La Crosse business and real estate lawyer. If you need a business lawyer in La Crosse, contact Bob Smyth at 608-784-5678.


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