The three kinds of community associations are condominiums, homeowners’ associations and cooperatives. The main difference between the three groups is the ownership:
Condominiums - In a condominium, the individual unit owner owns fee simple title to the air space contained within their unit and an undivided interest in all common grounds, streets and parking, recreation facilities, utilities, and parts of residential structures (i.e., the roof and lobby), which are collectively known as the common elements. A master deed divides the land into units and common elements and sets forth rights, obligations and restrictions of the condominium owner. Owners are obligated to pay assessments.
Homeowners’ Association - In a homeowners’ association, the homeowner owns his/her home in fee simple title and the common grounds and facilities are owned in fee simple by the association as an entity. Open space, recreational and common areas are vested in the homeowners’ association and funds for their upkeep are raised from assessments. Homeowners’ associations are regulated by privately written Declarations of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions.
Cooperatives - In cooperative housing, the shareholder does not own real estate, but owns a share of the legal entity that owns real estate. The corporation owns the land, buildings and any common areas. Each resident has membership in the coop association and has occupancy rights to a specific suite.