by Allison Preston
Arizona law provides for two distinct types of community associations, Planned Communities and Condominiums. Planned Communities are addressed in Title 33, Chapter 16 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, and Condominiums are addressed in Title 33, Chapter 9. The primary difference between the two types of community associations deals with who owns the common areas. In Planned Communities, the Homeowners Association owns the common areas, and in Condominiums, the individual owners share ownership interest in the common areas.
A.R.S. § 33-1802(4) defines a Planned Community as “a real estate development which includes real estate owned and operated by a nonprofit corporation or unincorporated association of owners that is created for the purpose of managing, maintaining or improving the property and in which the owners of separately owned lots, parcels or units are mandatory members and are required to pay assessments to the association for these purposes.”
A.R.S. § 33-1202(10) defines a Condominium as “real estate, portions of which are designated for separate ownership and the remainder of which is designated for common ownership solely by the owners of the separate portions. Real estate is not a condominium unless the undivided interests in the common elements are vested in the unit owners.”
Oftentimes, the simplest way to determine whether your home is part of a Planned Community or a Condominium is to consider the structure of the community. Do you own a single-family home in a community that offers amenities such as walking paths, picnic areas and playgrounds? If yes, your home may be part of a Planned Community Association. You do not have an ownership interest in the community’s amenities; however, as a homeowner in the community, you may be responsible for contributing to the maintenance of those amenities.
Do you instead own a unit in a multi-family community such as a condo, a duplex or a converted apartment? Does the multi-family community also offer amenities such as a community swimming pool or clubhouse, and does the community provide common water and trash service for owners? If yes, your home may be part of a Condominium Association. You have an undivided ownership interest in the common areas and, as such, you may be responsible for contributing to the maintenance of those amenities.
Bear in mind that not all homes belong to either a Planned Community Association or a Condominium Association. A search of your home on the Maricopa County Assessor’s website will tell you the name of the subdivision that your home belongs to. From there, you can search the subdivision name on the Maricopa County Recorder’s website to see if a Community Association is established for your subdivision.