Robertson D (2012) Collective Ownership. In: Smith S, Elsinga M, Eng O, O'Mahony L & Wachter S (eds.) International Encyclopedia of Housing and Home. Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 180-185. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780080471631000485
Multi-owned private housing developments have become commonplace throughout the urbanised world. They encompass a broad variety of housing types: residential high- and low-rise apartment blocks, mixed commercial and residential developments, as well as collectively managed individual housing ‘units' within what are generically termed ‘planned communities'. One shared physical feature is high density and, consequently, they share common building elements such as stairs, lifts, corridors, roofs, roof spaces, gardens, and grounds. Depending upon the block, additional service and recreational amenities such as car parking, laundrettes, gyms, or pools are included. These property developer-driven products respond to the changing political, planning, environmental, commercial, and lifestyle pressures that produce ever-concentrating urbanisation.
In contrast to owners of individually owned ‘freehold' property, owners of an individual dwelling within such developments - often referred to as a ‘lot' or ‘unit' - have a ‘freehold' interest in their individual home, combined with an additional ownership interest in the common parts and/or facilities or, alternatively, a compulsory interest in a homeowners' association which legally owns and thus controls these common elements. It is this dual nature of property ownership, both individual and collective, that proves inherently problematic. Who exactly owns what and who is responsible for what within multi-owned private housing need to be clearly understood if individual enjoyment and security within this type of property are to be assured. Critical to allowing this to happen is ensuring clarity in relation to the ownership rights and associated contractual relationships which are required to exist between homeowners, the homeowners' association, property managers, and, finally, the original property developers of the housing.
Owners’ rights and responsibilities;