Explaining the Different Elements of Condo Maintenance

Modern living room and balcony

While owners have the benefit of less overall condo maintenance, knowing where your responsibilities begin and end is crucial before jumping into ownership. Condo buildings are generally separated into three major components:

  • Units
  • Common Elements
  • Limited Common Elements


A condo unit is the actual part of the building that someone owns and is defined as being used exclusively by the owner. Each owner is responsible for their unit’s maintenance as far as the exterior and demising walls. Every condo association may define these boundaries differently. A unit generally includes:

  • Doors
  • Flooring
  • Fixtures
  • Appliances
  • Cabinets
  • Wall material such as drywall and plaster

Common Elements

A common element is any part of the condo building accessible to and used by all unit owners. The condo association will collect fees monthly in order to help cover costs for maintaining all common elements.

These costs are almost always lower than the expenses a home owner would face. They are paid in regular intervals rather than one lump sum.

Common elements include:

  • Entrance ways
  • Lobbies
  • Amenities such as pools or clubhouses
  • Exterior cladding
  • Roofing
  • Elevators
  • Central air systems

Any repairs, replacements or regular maintenance will be handled directly by the condo association board. Unit owners are free to give their input or even vote on how issues should be handled should they feel strongly about any project or component in particular.

Limited Common Elements

Limited common elements exist outside of the spaces of the units but are defined as being only used by a select unit owner or group of owners. Examples of limited common elements include:

  • Porches or balconies
  • In-window air conditioning units
  • Ducting
  • Electrical conduits
  • Window boxes

The costs for these elements may be shared only between the owners who use them, or certain fees may only apply towards limited common elements. The unit owner will rarely be directly responsible for maintaining these aspects. The association may need an owner’s permission before performing maintenance work that requires entering their property.

Review Your Owner’s Agreement

Despite the general categories outlined here, every condo building has different rules governing maintenance responsibilities. Be sure to carefully review your owner’s agreement in order to decipher the difference between common and limited common elements. You will want to know what your financial contribution will be to their maintenance.

With enough due diligence, you will be able to enjoy your condo unit and the low-cost maintenance that comes with it. To find a condo building that suits your lifestyle, take a look at our Shaughnessy real estate listings.