What Are Limited Common Elements?

Limited common elements are the properties of a condominium unit that are assigned to the unit, but are considered to be the property of the condominium community association and not the tenant.

Key Takeaways

  • Limited common elements are the properties of a condo that are assigned to the unit, but considered community property and not the tenant’s.
  • Examples of limited common elements include windows, balconies, driveways, elevators, clubhouses, and swimming pools.
  • Laws governing limited common elements may vary from state to state.

Understanding Limited Common Elements

Limited common elements are defined as those aspects of a shared condominium complex which are part of a condominium, but which are not considered to be the sole property of the tenant. Limited common elements can include elements that are directly connected to individual condominiums such as outer doors, windows, and balconies. They can also include amenities which service all community residents such as driveways, garages, elevators, clubhouses, swimming pools, and boat slips.

Declaration documents lay out what classifies as limited common elements.

Under most circumstances, the declaration document for the condominium will specify the aspects and amenities that are considered limited common elements, and which are the property of the condominium owner. The declaration will also delineate the responsibilities of the unit owner regarding maintenance, repair, and replacement of limited common elements. 

Usually, maintenance of limited common elements remains the responsibility of the community association unless otherwise specified in the declaration. In cases where the declaration does not specify, it is generally assumed that the responsibility for maintaining those elements remains with the community association. As in all such cases, when in doubt, legal advice is warranted.

Special Considerations

Laws and regulations governing condominiums and similar planned communities, including the ways they regulate common elements, vary from state to state. Over the years, many states have adopted similar legislation. Some states and jurisdictions do not allow for the implementation of such legislation, however.

The Uniform Condominium Act (UCA) was established in 1980 to create and govern condominium associations. Fourteen states have passed this act into law, including Alabama, Arizona, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

The Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act (UCIOA) was created in 1982 as a set of state-wide regulations for managing condominiums, planned communities, and real estate cooperatives. Six states enacted these regulations in 1982, including Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, Nevada, and West Virginia. Revisions to the UCIOA were adopted by Connecticut, Delaware, and Vermont in subsequent years.

Additionally, Pennsylvania passed the Uniform Planned Community Act (UPCA), which governs the creation and management of planned communities. Virginia passed the Uniform Real Estate Cooperative Act (MRECA) as a companion to the UCA in order to govern the creation, financing, and management of real estate cooperatives.