Understanding Community Associations in Arizona: Planned Communities and Condominiums

Category: Real Estate

Edmund F. Richardson, Contributor

Today we’re diving into the world of community associations in Arizona, specifically focusing on Planned Communities and Condominiums. Understanding the distinction between these two types of associations is crucial for homeowners. So, let’s explore the key differences, legal definitions, and how to determine if your home falls under one of these categories.

Arizona’s Planned Communities and Condominiums:
Under Arizona law, there are two distinct types of community associations: Planned Communities and Condominiums. Planned Communities are governed by Title 33, Chapter 16 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, while Condominiums are addressed in Title 33, Chapter 9. The primary difference lies in the ownership of the common areas within these associations.

A Planned Community, as defined by A.R.S. § 33-1802(4), is a real estate development where a nonprofit corporation or unincorporated association of owners manages, maintains, or improves the property. The common areas in Planned Communities are owned by the Homeowners Association (HOA), while the individual owners possess separately owned lots, parcels, or units within the community. Mandatory membership in the HOA and assessments for maintenance purposes are requirements for the owners. Ownership in planned communities includes the entire structure, and if there are common walls, half or to the center of the common walls. This becomes especially important, for example, when damage occurs within the common walls.

On the other hand, a Condominium, as defined by A.R.S. § 33-1202(10), involves real estate where certain portions are designated for separate ownership, while the remaining portion is designated for common ownership by the owners of those separate portions. To be classified as a condominium, the unit owners must have undivided interests in the common elements of the property. Ownership in condominiums typically includes the airspace in the unit from paint surface to paint surface, excluding the structural walls.

Determining Your Community Association Type:
To identify whether your home is part of a Planned Community or a Condominium, it’s often easiest to examine the structure and amenities of the community. If you own a single-family home within a community that offers amenities like walking paths, picnic areas, or playgrounds, chances are it falls under a Planned Community Association. While you don’t have direct ownership of these amenities, as a homeowner, you may be responsible for contributing to their maintenance.

On the other hand, if you own a unit within a multi-family community such as a condominium, duplex, or converted apartment, and the community provides amenities like a swimming pool, clubhouse, and common services like water and trash, you likely belong to a Condominium Association. In this case, you have an undivided ownership interest in the common areas and may be responsible for contributing to their upkeep.

Keep in mind that not all homes fall under either a Planned Community Association or a Condominium Association. You can conduct a search of your home on the Maricopa County Assessor’s website to find the name of your subdivision. Using that information, you can then search the subdivision name on the Maricopa County Recorder’s website to determine if a Community Association is established for your specific subdivision.

Understanding the distinction between Planned Communities and Condominiums is essential for homeowners in Arizona. By knowing whether your home belongs to a Planned Community or a Condominium Association, you can navigate the rights, responsibilities, and benefits associated with your specific community. If you require further assistance or legal guidance regarding community associations, our team at Davis Miles McGuire Gardner is here to help. Contact us at 480-733-6800 for to consult with one of our experienced attorneys.