What are Common Charges?
The term common charges can be used in different ways, but the most recognized definition is that of monthly fees or charges associated with living in a condominium. Common charges are often used to provide maintenance of common areas. These fees are used by a condo association for typical expenses associated with the upkeep of community amenities as well as administrative costs. Costs can include many things from landscaping, repairing parking lots, and keeping hallways or stairwells clean and well lit, to paying for printing and mailing of condo association rules and other correspondence.
Common charges may also be used to pay wages or salaries for those employed by the condo association. Property taxes, legal fees, the association’s liability insurance, and in some cases certain utilities such as water, sewer, and trash removal, may be incorporated into these fees. Security personnel or equipment may be included as well. If there is a pool, a clubhouse or other common meeting area, upkeep of such things is generally included in common charges. The homeowner is solely responsible for the care and maintenance of his or her unit.
The co-op style of living can be very comfortable for those who live alone as well as those who work several hours per week or travel. They may feel safer and feel that their home is more secure, when surrounded not only by close neighbors but within an association that has a stake in the property. They also know that care will be given to many issues they would otherwise need to tend to on their own.
The lawn is kept up, snow is removed if applicable, and these as well as other services make life easier. Common charges are simply part of that agreement. Because so many services are available, a condominium can be a great choice for singles, the elderly, people with physical challenges, or anyone who simply does not have the time or the ability to keep up with extra maintenance.
Anyone who is interested in purchasing a condominium must be sure to read all the fine print before signing any agreement. Make sure you can afford the associated fees. Understand that common charges may increase regularly. Paying these charges in a timely manner is a very important part of owning a condominium. Something many people may not realize is that a condominium may be foreclosed if these fees go unpaid. It would be a shame for someone to lose his or her home due to being unprepared for the extra expense of common charges.
@anon324284: Your common charges would increase proportionally regardless if you "combined" units into a single larger unit. This is because most condo plans are written so that each unit is responsible for a percentage of the association's fees based on their percentage of total square footage.
I was wondering if anyone knows if you have a person who owns two condos and makes it into one, does that person still have the charge for two condos for the common area or just one?
I have never been able to bring myself to live somewhere that would require me to pay common charges. I have always taken care of things like mowing the yard and cleaning the pool myself, and I would hate to have to pay for someone else to do them, when I could save myself hundreds of dollars by doing what I usually do.
I have lived out in the country with my parents all my life, and property maintenance is just something that comes with owning a house. I have always been involved in the upkeep of the yard, and I'm sure that when I buy my own house someday, I will continue to do so. It just doesn't seem natural to leave it up to someone else and waste all that money.
@Perdido – You're right about the charges varying. Just look at it this way – the more you pay for in common charges, the less you will have to pay for on your own.
I have one friend whose common charges are $250 a month. This takes care of things like lawn and pool maintenance. However, she has a separate utility and water bill that she has to pay later.
Another friend has charges of nearly $500. She lives in a nicer neighborhood, and more things are included in the charges. Water, sewer, and garbage pickup are included, as well as maintenance on the huge golf course and lake area in the community.
I am considering buying a condo, but I didn't know until reading this article that I would have to pay extra in common charges. Can anyone give me an idea of about how much extra I would have to pay?
I would imagine that the charges vary depending on the location and the services offered. However, I'm just looking for a general idea. Are we talking as much as a month's condo payment, or is it considerably less?
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