What counts as home ownership

Many hope for fewer problems when buying a condominium. As a gentleman in your own four walls, you no longer have any trouble with the landlord. That's true, but you have to come to terms with the other owners for that. "The principle of condominium law applies: master in your own apartment, but not in the house," explains Gerold Happ from the Haus & Grund owners' association in Berlin. In principle, every apartment owner can do as they please in their own rooms. “He can live in it, rent it out, lease it out or use it in any other way, and he can also bequeath it,” explains Florian Streibl, lawyer and author of a guide to the owners' meeting.

Burdens are allocated proportionally

But he must also show consideration for other owners. Consideration also means that an owner must maintain their home. The requirement of consideration also applies to communal property. An owner can use this, but only as long as he does not disadvantage anyone else. Owners also have an obligation to ensure that members of their household abide by these rules.

There are also financial obligations when buying your own apartment. "Every apartment owner has to bear the burden of the common property on a pro rata basis," says Happ. This applies, for example, to the costs of maintenance, repair, modernization and other management of the common property. Even if an owner does not like it, in some cases the co-owners can force him to make certain investments. This is the case when the measures concern common property.

“That would be, for example, the renovation of a defective roof,” says Streibl. Even if a window broke in another owner's apartment, everyone would have to pay, says Heinrich Stüven, chairman of the property owners' association in Hamburg.

"If damage occurs, all owners must ensure that it is removed." If the building is to be repaired or repaired, a simple majority is sufficient for the owners to outvote their opponents. Even those who do not see the measures must then reach into their pockets and pay - depending on the proportion of their property.

“It doesn't matter whether an individual says they have just bought a car and have run out of money,” explains Stüven. In any case, advises Happ, the community should set up adequate provisions for such maintenance measures. If the house is to be modernized, the proponents need a double qualified majority. Three quarters of all apartment owners entitled to vote and more than half of all co-ownership shares must vote for the measure, explains Happ. A co-owner's share is a predetermined fraction of the common property. It is calculated according to the size of the living space purchased.

Intervention in the structural substance

In this case, too, the costs of modernization have to be borne by each owner according to the proportion of their property. For modernizations and other structural changes, special levies are usually decided. Other structural changes can only be decided upon with the consent of each owner who will be particularly severely affected by the measures.

"This is particularly the case when it comes to measures that intervene in the structural substance of the system or cause visual impairment," says Streibl. In this case, too, the costs are distributed among the owners according to their share.

However, an owner who has not consented to the measure is usually not obliged to contribute to the costs, adds Happ. Whether modernization or maintenance - every owner is obliged to pay the contributions for the provisions and the special levies. "How he does this is up to him," says Happ. If, on the other hand, an apartment owner is unable to raise the amounts, the community can sue him for payment. “In the worst case, the other homeowners can decide by majority vote to have the property withdrawn from the defaulting homeowner in court,” warns Happ of defaulting debtors.