Yalnes, Inc. Blog

A Resource for Condo Owners

Abbreviations and Terms Demystified


  • COA – Condominium Owners Association
  • HOA – Homeowners Association or Home Owners Association
  • PUD – Planned Unit Development
  • Assn – Association
  • Reserves – funds allocated to major replacement items (roof, siding, swimming pool, boiler, etc)
  • Assessments – amounts paid to Association to cover maintenance, other operating expenses, and contributions to reserves.  Even though these are commonly referred to as “dues”, they are not.  Dues are amounts paid for a membership where the payer receives no benefit(s) other than being a member of an organization
  • Common Areas – areas of an Association, which all owners can use/enjoy
  • Limited Common Areas – areas of an Association, which one or more (but not all) owners have an exclusive right to use (and generally responsibility to maintain)
  • Site Condo, ZLL or Zero Lot Line, Condo by Default, Air Space Condominium, etc. – all of these terms refer to a “Condominium” (as opposed to Homeowners Association/HOA)
  • In a “Site Condo”, ZLL/Zero Lot Line, or Condo by Default, owners generally own a “cubicle” or “bubble” of air with everything inside it.  The Declaration for the Association will generally describe the boundaries of such cubicle/bubble.  Horizontal boundaries are often located so many feet (i.e. 20′) below ground level and so many feet above ground level (i.e. 60′) with vertical boundaries running along the land on which the home/condominium sits on.  Site Condos are usually attached townhomes with 2 (duplex) or more homes per building/structure.  Individual owners do not have “land ownership” and are usually responsible for all maintenance, including but not limited to building structure, driveways, exterior painting, roof, lawn/landscape maintenance, etc.  In some instances, the governing documents may provide that the Association is responsible for maintenance of individual lawns (and/or snow plowing of driveways) and scheduled maintenance of some or all exterior components (i.e. re-painting, re-roofing, driveway replacement, etc.).  Owners, however, remain responsible for upkeep/routine maintenance of such items.
  • An Air Space Condominium is usually a Condominium Association located inside another Association/building.  Imagine a high-rise tower with a Hotel on floors 1 through 15 and Condominium Units on floors 16 through 30.  There will likely be an “umbrella” or “master” Association comprised of Two Units: One Unit will be a Hotel, and the other Residential Condominium Association, containing homes on floors 16 through 30.  The “umbrella/master” Association would be responsible for maintenance of all components common to/shared by both Hotel and Residential Units (i.e. building envelope, central HVAC system, fire safety systems, roof, etc.).  Hotel would be responsible for everything on their floors (excluding the building structure and other common elements) and Residential Association would be responsible for interiors of their “common areas” (also excluding the building structure).  In such setup, Residential Association is commonly referred to as Air Space Condominium because it encompasses everything within the air cubicle inside the building structure above the Hotel.

“Legal” definitions and difference between PUD, HOA, Cooperative (co-op) and COA:

  • Condominium Association – the biggest difference is that individual owners have no ownership of land.  Owners own a condominium unit (usually specifically confined within horizontal and vertical boundaries defined in Association’s governing documents) and have an undivided ownership interest in Common Areas.  Owners are responsible for maintenance of their units and the Association is responsible for maintenance of Common Areas.
  • Homeowners Association – in a Homeowners Association, owners own parcels or lots of land and improvements built upon them and have an undivided interest in Common Areas.  Owners have full responsibility for maintenance of their lots and improvements (house, fence, driveway, etc.).
  • Planned Unit Development – is somewhat of a hybrid between a Condominium Association and a Home Owners Association.  Just like in a Homeowners Association, owners own their lots and improvements, but Association may have responsibility for maintenance of some exterior components of lots and/or homes (i.e. lawn maintenance, scheduled exterior painting, roof replacement).
  • Cooperative – somewhat similar to a Condominium Association but at the same time completely different as owners do not own any “real estate”.  They own shares of a Corporation (Cooperative Association itself) and have long term leases for their units.  Some coops have very strict “buy-in” restrictions, which are often much more complicated than those associated with leasing a home (purchase can be subject to approval by the Board of Directors, who can deny it based on just about anything; a co-op will likely run full background and credit report on prospective purchasers, etc. etc. etc.).

Other “types” of Associations:
There is a huge difference between a “legal structure” of an Association and “physical aspects” of homes within the Association.  The above 4 definitions set the “legal structure” of an Association.  Everything else refers to a “type of construction”.  So, a Townhome or Townhouse Association means that the units are “townhouse style” (physical aspect) and can be a Condominium or a PUD (“legal structure”).


January 12, 2009 Posted by | Definitions, Governance | , | Comments Off on Abbreviations and Terms Demystified