Separate Interests

The real property within a common interest development (“CID”) that is owned exclusively by an owner is referred to as the owner’s “separate interest.” The types of separate interests within a CID are based upon the form of the CID itself:

  • Community Apartment Project – An owner’s separate interest includes an exclusive right to occupy an apartment. (Civ. Code § 4185(a)(1).)
  • Condominium Projects – An owner’s separate interest most often includes a cube of airspace bounded by the interior unfinished surfaces of a condominium unit’s perimeter walls, floors, and ceilings. (Civ. Code §§ 4185(a)(2), 4125; See also “Airspace Condominium Units.”) The boundaries of the condominium units, common areas, and exclusive use common areas within a condominium project are contained in a recorded condominium plan. (Civ. Code § 4125.)
  • Planned Developments (“PUDs”) – An owner’s separate interest includes an individually owned lot (or parcel), as well as the residential structures and other improvements located on the lot. (Civ. Code § 4185(a)(3).) The boundaries of the various lots and common areas within a planned development are contained in a recorded tract or subdivision map.
  • Stock Cooperatives – An owner’s separate interest is an exclusive right to occupy a portion of the CID which is owned entirely by a corporation, and where the owner is a shareholder within that corporation. (Civ. Code §§ 4185(a)(4), 4190(a).)

Compared to Common Area & Exclusive Use Common Area

Common Area – Every portion of a CID except for the separate interests constitutes “common area” that the association is generally obligated to maintain and repair. (Civ. Code §§ 4095(a), 4775(a).)

Exclusive Use Common Area – An owner within a CID may also have a portion of common area designated for the owner’s exclusive use—defined as “exclusive use common area.” (Civ. Code § 4145(a); See also “Exclusive Use Common Area.”) Exclusive use common areas are commonly utilized in condominium projects (i.e., patios, balconies, decks, etc. that are located immediately adjacent to an owner’s condominium unit). An owner does not own exclusive use common area; it is a portion of common area reserved for the owner’s exclusive via the terms of the association’s CC&Rs. This distinction impacts the scope of the owner’s maintenance and repair responsibilities versus those of the association. (See “Exclusive Use Common Area Maintenance.”)

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