Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Condominium Definition:

A unit or defined portion of ownership in real property, similar to an apartment.

Related Terms: Common Area, Strata, Co-ownership

A statutory form of apartment ownership but which lends itself to other forms of real property ownership which is comprised of individual units and common areas. Some jurisdictions prefer the nomenclature of strata and others, such as most civil law jurisdiction, defer to the term co-ownership.

Synonymous with strata as in strata title or strata unit.

In Condominium Law, authors Fairweather and Ramsay write:

"The word condominium devides into the prefix con which means with or sharing and dominium which means ownership or control. It simply means sharing with others.

"A condominium is not a particular kind of building.... Rather, it is a legal arrangement. It refers to a form of ownership."

In 2475813 Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Court of Appeal judge Cromwell comprehensively defined the term:

"The term condominium refers to a system of ownership and administration of property with three main features. A portion of the property is divided into individually owned units, the balance of the property is owned in common by all the individual owners and a vehicle for managing the property, known as the condominium corporation, is established. The condominium may be seen, therefore, as a vehicle for holding land which combines the advantages of individual ownership with those of multi-unit development. In a sense, the unit owners make up a democratic society in which each has many of the rights associated with sole ownership of real property, but in which, having regard to their co-ownership with the others, some of those rights are subordinated to the will of the majority.

"(T)he success of a condominium depends in large measure on an equitable balance being struck between the independence of the individual owners and the interdependence of them all in a co-operative community. It follows, they note, that common features of all condominiums are the need for balance and the possibility of tension between individual and collective interests.

"From a more purely legal perspective, a modern condominium is created pursuant to detailed legislative provisions such as, in Nova Scotia, the Condominium Act(the "Act"). The condominium is, therefore, a creature of statute. But condominium legislation reflects the combination of several legal concepts and relies on, and to a degree incorporates by reference, principles drawn from several different areas of law. The law relating to individual ownership of real property is, of course, central because the owners of the individual units are, subject to certain limits, entitled to exclusive ownership and use of their units.... The law relating to joint ownership is significant because the owners are tenants in common with respect to the common elements.... The law relating to easements and covenants is relevant because the unit owners have rights to compliance by the others with the provisions governing the condominium and certain easements are, by statute, appurtenant to each unit.... The law relating to corporations is also of importance because the condominium is administered by the condominium corporation in which the unit holders are in a position analogous to shareholders.... While the Condominium Act enables and, to a degree, regulates the legal aspects of condominium ownership, it does so against a vast background of general legal principles which will frequently be relevant to the interpretation and application of the Act. As has been said, in its legal structure, the condominium first combines elements of several concepts and then seeks to delineate separate privileges and responsibilities on the one hand from common privileges and responsibilities on the other."


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