When you buy a condominium, what are you actually getting? In a typical condominium arrangements, each tenant owns his/her individual unit outright and owns the common areas as a tenant in common together with the other tenants. Since you have ownership rather than mere leasehold rights, you can sell your unit and build up equity in it.
A tenant in common is a fractional owner of the common property, meaning, for example, that if the property is sold he is entitled to a certain percentage of the proceeds. A tenant in common can also generally sell his interest in the property without the permission of the other tenants in common (some restrictions may apply). Finally, a tenancy in common is undivided – all tenants in common have an equal right to possess the entire property. This means that if I am a tenant in common with a 1% fractional interest in the lobby, I cannot tape off an area equal to 1% of the total area of the lobby and claim it as my exclusive property, and neither can anyone else. But if the building is sold, I am entitled to 1% of the net proceeds of the sale of the lobby.
What do you own outright when you buy a condominium? Usually, all you own outright is whatever is inside the four walls. You do not own the plumbing (except as a tenant in common).
Furthermore, in many condominium arrangements, the common areas are owned not by the unit owners as tenants in common, but by a homeowners’ association to which the condominium owners belong. This association is usually a corporation in which the unit owners are shareholder (giving the homeowners’ association an independent legal identity), and the unit areas lease the right to use the common areas.
If the condominium has a parking area, condominium owners might have what is known as an easement, which is a type of property right allowing certain uses such as walking and driving through it, and parking your car there. In an easement, someone else owns the property and you just have the right to use it.
DISCLAIMER: The foregoing is intended for reference only and not as legal advice.