Condominium vs Co-op: What’s The Difference?
Florida is home to many different community associations, all governed in different ways. The most common types are homeowners’ associations (HOAs) and condominium associations, but one will also see housing cooperatives (‘co-ops’ for short), which operate in specific parts of the state. If you are moving to Florida, you may be confused about which type of association would be right for you (if any). A knowledgeable attorney may be able to help settle the issue.
Condominiums: Consolidated Governance
Condo associations are created by developers, then handed over to those who purchase the condo units for governance after a certain point. Condominium owners own their specific units, and have a collective share in the common areas and comforts, such as a pool or tennis court. They pay assessments to the association to help with upkeep and taxes on the common areas – but what many do not realize is that everything outside their units, including the walls and roofs.
Condominium associations have an elected board of directors, and most of them have community association managers to back up the board, so to speak; board elections usually happen yearly, but the association manager is a paid position. Any issues with owners tend to be handled on an individual level, and if an agreement cannot be reached at that point, mediation or arbitration is the preferred method for dispute resolution. It is possible to file suit against one’s condo board, but it is quite rare, and the burden of proof is high.
Cooperatives: Lease, Not Own
Housing cooperatives are more common in the northern part of the state of Florida, but can be found all over. Unlike condominium associations, people in a housing co-op do not own their homes; rather, they hold what is known as a proprietary lease over their parcel. A housing cooperative is run as an association in which residents buy shares, receiving the lease and a stock certificate as permission to live on the specific parcel or in the specific home. When a co-op home is sold, what is technically sold is the owner’s stock in the cooperative, rather than the land itself.
The major difference between cooperatives and condominiums is that the shareholders in a housing co-op have the right to vet the people who seek to buy into the association, where a condo association will – in theory – sell to anyone. The rationale is that since co-op members pay fees (usually monthly) to the co-op association, their funds keep it afloat, and thus they should have a say in who is accepted as a member. The current members may request to interview a potential newcomer, and even ask for information that would not be available to a condo association.
Contact A Tampa Community Association Attorney
If you are new to Florida, it may be confusing trying to decide if a community association is right for you, and if so, which one. A Tampa community association attorney from the Seward Law Office can try to help answer your questions and manage any concerns. Call our office today at 813-252-6789 to schedule a consultation.