Fisher Law Corporation’s Frequently Asked Questions

The following are select subjects which are representative of the type of law we practice. Peruse the articles: If you don't find a subject that interests you, call us or e-mail us with your request.

Notice: The information contained in these articles is designed to provide accurate information in regard to the subject matters covered and is made available with the understanding that the information provided does not constitute the rendering of legal or professional services. All information is of a general nature, is specific to California law only, and is not intended to to replace professional or legal advice. Each person’s situation is unique and the information contained herein cannot be applied to any individual’s situation. If legal advise is required, the services of a professional should be sought.

What is an all-inclusive deed of trust? »

What is CERCLA? »

How does a condominium differ from a house? »

What are Covenants that run with the land? »

What is a deed in lieu of foreclosure? »

What are easements? »

What are Encroachments? »

How does escrow work? »

What is fire and flood insurance? »

How do foreclosures work? »

What are the different forms of doing business? »

What do trade terms mean? »

What are liquidated damages in real property contracts? »

What is a Lis Pendens? »

How do loan modifications work? »

What is a Mechanic’s Lien? »

How does a Multiple Listing Service work? »

What is an off-shore trust? »

How do real property taxes work? »

What is Procuring Cause? »

What is a Quitclaim Deed? »

What is RESPA? »

Who bears the risk of loss during escrow? »

What are second deeds of trust? »

What is the Statute of Frauds? »

What is Statute of Limitations on Debts Secured By a Mortgage? »

Does a buyer’s broker have a duty to inspect? »

What is The Parol Evidence Rule? »

What is Adverse Possession? »


Q. How does a condominium differ from a house?

A. As one of several types of cooperative ownership projects known as “common interest developments,” the condominium has become the most popular. A condominium project is subject to the provisions of the Subdivided Lands Act if it contains five or more condominium units.

A “condominium project” is an estate in real property consisting of an undivided interest in common in a portion of a parcel of real property, together with a separate interest in space, the boundaries of which are described on a recorded final map, parcel map, condominium plan, or other document in sufficient detail to locate all boundaries.

The condominium unit or “separate interest” is a separate ownership in a condominium project consisting of a cube of space as defined in the condominium plan, recorded final map, or parcel map, together with an appurtenant undivided interest in the common areas. Title to the unit or interest may be held in fee simple, an estate for life, or an estate for years, such as a leasehold or subleasehold, or any combination thereof. The common area cannot be transferred separate from the ownership interest in the unit.

Depending upon the description contained in the condominium plan, final recorded map, or parcel map, the unit or separate interest may include the interior unit, garage, and/or storage space. Unless provided otherwise in the plan or maps, the boundaries of the unit are the interior unfinished surfaces of the walls, floors, ceilings, windows, doors, and outlets located within the unit. Therefore, the unit owner owns the wallpaper, paint, and other finishes within the unit and is responsible for their care, maintenance, and replacement. He also owns all interior walls, except for bearing walls and, subject to easements for the common area, wires and pipes that pass through the unit.

The common area is the entire condominium project except for the areas designated as units or separate interests in separate ownership. Thus, the boundary walls of a unit outside of the unfinished surface areas are common areas. The common area includes all bearing walls, utility lines and conduits, halls, elevators, stairs, walkways, open space areas, driveways, recreational areas, and the like. Unless provided otherwise in the declaration, the common area is owned by the unit owners as tenants in common.

The “exclusive use common area” is a portion of the common area designated by the declaration for the exclusive use of one or more, but not all, of the unit owners which is appurtenant to the unit or units. Unless provided otherwise in the declaration, the exclusive common area includes any shutters, awnings, window boxes, doorsteps, stoops, porches, balconies, patios, exterior doors, doorframes and hardware, screens, and windows designated to serve a separate unit but located outside of a unit.

For most purposes the ownership attributes of a condominium are equivalent to the ownership of any other detached dwelling. The condominium unit may be homesteaded whether it is owned in fee or as a leasehold interest. The homestead includes any interest and right to the common area and other appurtenances, but it is subject to any agreement or restriction binding upon the owners of the project prior to the acquisition of title by the homeowner.

In contrast to the stock cooperative, each occupant, as the owner of his own unit, can arrange for his own financing. He is not confined to the financing of an entire building under one blanket loan, as is the case with the cooperative corporation form of ownership. Therefore, the owner of one unit has no responsibility for the mortgage payments which are payable by the other unit owners. If one unit owner does not make his payments he may lose the title to his unit by foreclosure, but it will not affect the title of the other unit owners.

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