Common Elements vs. Limited Common Elements vs Owner-Maintained Elements

For many homeowners, figuring out where the HOA’s responsibility ends and theirs begins, seems like a straightforward question; until a pipe breaks in the wall behind the washing machine and there’s a scramble to figure out who to call. While each HOA is different, there are some key identifiers which homeowners, boards, and vendors can use to determine a basis for responsibility.

Common Elements

The HOA maintains and controls Common Elements. A common element has several key components:

  • The use of the common elements is for everyone in the HOA to enjoy. A perfect example of a common element is a green space or a pool area, and the HOA solely maintains this.
  • The HOA controls common elements. That means the HOA can make rules and regulations pertaining the area (For example, no off leash animals on the green or no running on the pool deck).
  • A common element is insured by the HOA.

Limited Common Elements

  • Limited Common Elements are items controlled by the HOA, but they only service a limited amount of people. A good example of a limited common element is a patio area or a plumbing line servicing a condo from a main line into particular units. The HOA maintains, insures, and controls the Limited Common Elements, but the owner or owners use them.
  • Condominiums and Town homes frequently use Limited Common Elements. Examples include shared roofs, plumbing, and patios.
  • Windows and Doors can be, but are not always, a limited common element – for instance, the HOA typically maintains the exterior of the front door.
  • While the HOA maintains the limited common elements, new owners should review the condo map or plat map to make sure that you know where the HOA responsibility ends. Typically, the homeowner takes responsibility of issues within the walls and studs of the unit. If you are unsure, your property management company will be able to clarify exactly where the responsibility begins and ends – don’t be afraid to ask!

Homeowner Responsibility

Homeowners are responsible for items in their own home and items inside the footprint of the home (walls inward). Leaks and clogs happen; however, it is the homeowners job to be proactive and identify where the problem is coming from. Once found, determining the next step can be as easy as a phone call to management. Be sure to consult your governing documents carefully prior to buying and make sure you are comfortable with the maintenance agreements for the community. Many HOAs offer a maintenance chart that clearly spells out who maintains each component of the community – if you have this chart, put it on your fridge! There is nothing more frustrating than moving quickly in an emergency and not having that information at hand.

As always, CAP Management is here to help- if you are unsure, please give us a call at 303-832-2971 or contact your property manager.