Advice for homeowner associations, proprietors, and administrators

The formulation of owners’ resolutions is primarily the responsibility of the administrator. The requirements of the courts with regard to the legality of resolutions are, however, complex and difficult to keep track of, even for the specialist.

Unlawful or defective resolutions can be challenged in court by the condominium owners, often resulting in considerable legal costs. Therefore, legal advice from an attorney on the formulation of owners’ resolutions pays off in practically every case.

Preparation of measures and formulation of owners’ resolutions

We recommend legal support in particular for the following resolution topics:

  • Renovation and modernization measures,
  • Approval of major structural changes (e.g., installation of elevator, addition of a balcony),
  • Amendment of the cost allocation key,
  • Instigation of court proceedings, e.g., against property developers,
  • Borrowing by the homeowner association.

Supervision of more comprehensive structural measures (maintenance and structural alteration: e.g., renovation/replacement of reticulation system, addition of an elevator, e-charging station, attic conversion)

Even the implementation of preservation or renovation measures requires careful preparation (clarification of options for action/renovation plan for several years, obtaining expert opinions, comparable cost offers, financing options, etc.).

Often, individual owners or the homeowner association also have an interest in the redesign of joint property in such a way that a modern standard is reached, such as the addition of elevators to achieve accessibility or the addition of balconies to increase the residential value. The legal issues involved with this (e.g., resolution or agreement, determination of the content of the planned measure, allocation of costs) are complex, so that it is advisable to obtain legal advice on this in good time before initiating measures that will incur costs.

The right to carry out a subsequent conversion of a basic roof space for residential or even office purposes is reserved in a large number of declarations of division/ building bye-laws. The corresponding development clauses are, however, often only expressed generally and do not always give clear indications as to the extent to which expansion is permitted or a change of use can be brought about. There is a risk of a major dispute and economic loss if there are subsequent differences of opinion about the permissible extent of development or the permissible type of use. Therefore a legal assessment of the permissible scope of development or the permissible type of use in advance is urgently recommended in order to obtain a sound risk assessment or to eliminate existing ambiguities by means of resolutions or agreements in such a way that the development can be carried out without risking  reinstatement. We are also at your disposal for this with our many years of experience from similar matters.

Advice on damage to collective property as a result of structural changes (e.g. roof conversion)

If condominium owners carry out structural changes in the residential complex, damage to collective property is a common consequence. A typical practical case is the subsequent conversion of the attic by the owner of the roof space and the water damage caused by this work, such as in the area of the terrace, or defects in the insulation and vapor barrier. The retrospective fitting of elevators and balconies by individual owners and the resulting damage to the facade or staircase should also be considered. In these cases, the homeowner association is entitled to claims for damages against the owner carrying out the building work, which in individual cases can be asserted up to ten years after the roof conversion. There is specific case law in respect of residential property law on the content and enforcement of these claims. As we specialize in both residential property law and construction law, we are also regularly active in this area.

Out-of-court housing allowance collection

In addition, we have the experience and personnel resources to provide you with support in all matters of receivables management already prior to legal proceedings.

Pre-litigation assertion of claims for reinstatement and injunctive relief

Before bringing an action for injunctive relief or for reinstatement, it is generally advisable and, depending on the resolution adopted, also necessary to first make a request out of court for the owner to cease the conduct that is the subject of the complaint or to perform a  reinstatement and o restore to its  previous condition. Occasionally, it is possible to avoid court proceedings or to draw conclusions from statements made by the owner for legal action at a later stage.

Advice for individual or several property owners

In connection with the owner’s position, various questions also arise for the individual owner, such as:

  • How may I use my individual property?
  • Which maintenance and repair measures do I have to carry out as an individual owner and which costs do I have to bear proportionately or possibly even completely?
  • What rights do I have in respect of damage to community and/or individual property?
  • What rights do I have if my individual property is adversely affected by another individual owner or due to another individual property unit?
  • Am I permitted to carry out or demand a certain construction measure?

In such cases, we are available to assist with competent expertise. We prepare proposed solutions and, if possible, under the declaration of division, we represent you in the property owners’ meeting. We assert your claims already prior to litigation and exercise your rights against the association and/or other owners.

In addition, it may also be beneficial in other cases to seek legal advice in advance of owners' meetings. In certain situations it might even be necessary to prepare an already foreseeable legal challenge.

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WIR-Network – Real estate law know-how for nationwide mandates

The WIR-Network is an association of legally independent law firms specializing in real estate law. Three law firms, one focus: specializations in landlord and tenant law, condominium law, and construction and property development law.