What is the difference between a common element and a limited common element, and why does it matter?

Can a Condominium Association Shut Off Water or Other Utilities For a Non-Paying Unit Owner?
January 29, 2021
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Old Colonial Building French Quarter Dumaine street New Orleans Louisiana. Completed in 1700s

First, it is important to understand how the Louisiana Condominium Act defines condominium terms.

For example, the term “Condominium” is defined as the property regime under which portions of immovable property are subject to individual ownership and the remainder thereof is owned in indivision by such unit owners.

A “unit” is defined as part of the condominium property subject to individual ownership and it includes the accessory rights and obligations outlined in the condominium declaration.

The difference in the Act’s definitions of common elements and limited common elements is a bit more subtle. Common elements are the portion of the condominium property not a part of the individual units. Limited common elements means the common elements reserved in the condominium declaration for the exclusive use of a certain unit or certain units.

Examples of Common Elements
• Community Pool
• Courtyard
• Stairwells
• Fitness Centers
Examples of Limited Common Elements
• Balconies
• Rooftop Patios only accessible through select units
• Private/Reserved Parking Areas
• Separate unit storage

Why It’s Important to Know the Difference

Condominium Declarations often provide for the Association’s right to collect dues to cover common expenses. While each Declaration may define this term differently, the Condominium Act provides that Common Expenses are the expenses of administration, maintenance, repair and replacement of common elements. It can also be defined as the expenses agreed upon as common expenses by the unit owners.
Therefore the distinguishment between Common and Limited Common Elements determines whether or not the Association will bear the burden of costs associated with the element’s upkeep. Oftentimes, disputes arise as to an element’s classification and whose obligation it is to maintain the element. Associations must know the difference in common and limited common elements or they risk potential lawsuits for breaching the Condominium Documents.

If your association needs help navigating a dispute as to the classification of condominium elements, please call us to discuss your matter.

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