We all know that where you live has everything to do with the law. You might be blasted by unusual tax codes in New York or Florida, but be much more familiar with those in Kansas or Arkansas. But what type of dwelling you live in can mean different laws you have to follow as well. For example, the Florida Condominium Act says that board members cannot be compensated for the related services they provide (in most cases).
But what does that even mean? What’s the difference between an apartment and condominium and why are they governed by different laws in different states?
Oxford Languages defines a condominium as “a building or complex of buildings containing a number of individually owned apartments or houses.” Anyone who has ever lived inside a normal apartment building might be feeling confused.
It’s all about ownership! You rent an apartment. But when you live in a condo, you own your apartment — which is no longer defined as an apartment. Simple, right?
That’s also why the laws are so different. We tend to treat lease agreements much differently than purchase agreements. The biggest thing most condo owners need to know is that their landlord will pay the property taxes (just like your landlord in an apartment). The other differences between a condo and apartment are superficial. Generally, you might find similar or the same amenities at both.
From there, the other differences are probably intuitive. Because you own the condo in which you reside, you are also responsible for all maintenance fees. One of the biggest reasons that someone might choose to buy a condo instead of rent an apartment is that condominiums gain or lose equity the same way houses do. Real estate means investment. Sometimes that means more profit down the road, i.e. you can sell your condo for more than it was worth at the time of purchase.
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Who typically owns a condo? Prices for a unit inside a condominium are usually marginally lower than those paid for a home. Still, those looking to make a first home purchase might choose a condo for that reason. They can always sell for profit and buy a more expensive home later. Although the unit’s maintenance is a responsibility belonging to the owner, the actual property will be maintained by the landlord. That means no mowing the lawn or trimming the hedges.
One of the biggest draws to home ownership is relative privacy. You won’t find any of that in a condo. But maybe you like the sense of community. There will be condominium rules shared by all. You’re more likely to be close to businesses when living in a condo — so you might be able to get away with no car. That’s another benefit, right?
You won’t need renter’s insurance, but you will need condo insurance. This will legally cover the owner against the costs of certain types of damage (such as flooding or fire) and help pay for the relevant repairs.