In condominiums and co-op apartments, the relationship between the owner and property is complicated. The unit owner rules within the walls of their unit, but everything beyond the drywall is ruled by the community’s board and governing documents. 

This hybrid ownership often skews the understanding of who is responsible for what in their community. Many owners have a misconception that their board and/or manager functions like landlord and therefore, should be contacted about any/all complaints. However, the board actually represents the community as a whole and governs the common elements. They do not represent individual owners or govern individual units.

As a rule of thumb, unit owners are typically responsible for whatever is within the four walls of their individual unit and the co-op or condo is responsible for everything in the common areas of the property and any building system that serves more than one apartment. 

The best way for a new unit owner to educate themselves about individual responsibilities is to read the governing documents of the building.

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