in a condominium development, definitions of separate interests, common areas and exclusive-use common areas are especially important because maintenance responsibilities can vary for each of these defined areas.
Maintenance Responsibilities. Unless CC&Rs provide otherwise, the association is responsible for repairing, replacing, or maintaining the common area, other than exclusive use common area, and the owner of each separate interest is responsible for maintaining that separate interest and any exclusive use common area appurtenant to the separate interest. (Civ. Code §4775(a).)
Common Area is defined as the entire common interest development except for the separate interests in the development. (Civ. Code §4095(a).)
Separate Interest. The "separate interest" of a condominium is the air space bounded by the interior unfinished surfaces of the perimeter walls, floors, ceilings, windows, doors. (Civ. Code §4185(b).) In interpreting deeds, the existing physical boundaries of a unit are conclusively presumed to be its boundaries rather than the metes and bounds expressed in the deed or condominium plan. (Civ. Code §4220.)
Improvements. Everything inside that air space including light fixtures, light switches and outlets, carpet, hardwood floors, paint and wallpaper, toilets, tubs, showers, sinks, appliances, cabinets, counter tops, etc. are improvements to the unit which are owned by the homeowner. Unless the governing document state otherwise, members are responsible for insuring, repairing, and replacing improvements in their units.
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