The Mystery of “Site Condominiums” Unravelled

Site CondominiumsBy: Gregory J. Fioritto

gfioritto@zdfattorneys.com

People who live in detached single-family homes may be surprised to learn (sometimes to their chagrin) that they are actually living in a condominium.  This realization may cause the owner to experience some confusion and perhaps even disappointment, as he or she may have believed that they owned a “single family home” in the more traditional “subdivision” sense.

The term, “condominium,” does not refer to any particular style of architecture; rather, it is a specific form of ownership of real property.  “Site condominiums” are essentially detached single-family homes that are created under the condominium form of ownership.  In a site condominium, the condominium “unit” is actually the lot that each person owns in the project; the person’s home is constructed on the unit and considered to be an “improvement” thereto.  This is, of course, in contrast to the traditional (and more commonly held) concept of a condominium, where the “unit” that each person owns is the enclosed space of air within a multi-family building or structure.

One of the reasons that developers in more recent times have preferred to establish their projects as site condominiums rather than as traditional subdivisions is that the engineering requirements for site condominiums are significantly less stringent.    As a result, site condominiums have become quite popular in Michigan over the past few decades, and are not at all uncommon.

For the co-owner, one of the main differences of living in a site condominium as compared to a subdivision is that the roads, sewers and other such infrastructure items are usually owned (and maintained) by the condominium co-owners instead of the municipality.  But in many other respects, there will be very little practical difference to the owner as a result of living under a site condominium regime instead of within a traditional subdivision.  Indeed, living in a site condominium may provide the owner with benefits that he or she would not otherwise enjoy in a subdivision (such as being governed under the express legal framework of the Michigan Condominium Act).

So if you suddenly find yourself living in a condominium, don’t panic – many of your friends and neighbors probably do, too.

Gregory J. Fioritto is a partner with the firm.  He has extensive experience in community association law and has been with the firm since 2003.  Greg’s particular expertise in community association law includes document amendments, collections, parliamentary procedure, corporate governance, developer disputes, insurance duties, and intellectual property matters.

You can reach Greg at our Plymouth office at 734-459-0062 or via email at gfioritto@zdfattorneys.com.

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