Legal expert Matthew Cameron provides advice on buying within a copropriété
Co-ownership situations arise most commonly with a block of apartments; each owner is absolute proprietor of their apartment, while all common parts (eg the structure of the building, the corridors, the entrance hall, the land) are owned proportionately by all of the owners. Another kind of co-ownership can also exist on larger housing estates.
The size of your property in relation to the others will reflect on your proportion of the ownership of the common parts. This will affect your due contribution to the management charges, and to the level of your voting rights at AGMS.
It is important to understand the level of management charges. These will normally be collected quarterly, in advance, by the co-ownership manager – the syndic.
When buying in a co-ownership, be sure to inspect the management accounts and the recent minutes of co-owner AGMS. It is now a legal requirement that this information be produced to you before you sign the first purchase contract. You may learn from this whether there is any ongoing litigation that may affect you as a future owner, or whether there are debates about maintenance or any repairs that may need to be carried out in the future.
It is always sensible to attend co-ownership meetings, to ensure that you can vote on any relevant matters arising. You can also authorise somebody else to exercise your voting rights: the syndic will issue the AGM agenda in advance so that you can be aware what matters are to be discussed and voted on.