In Switzerland, condominium ownership is a popular form of home ownership that makes it possible to own a flat in an apartment block. The question often arises: which areas belong exclusively to us and which are the common property of all residents? Where is our active participation required and where can we exercise our right to have a say? Which costs are borne by the condominium community and which are the responsibility of the individual owners?
When you buy a condominium in Switzerland, you do not acquire the entire property, but only a specific unit within an apartment building or residential complex. This unit can later be sold, inherited or otherwise transferred. The corresponding share of ownership is recorded in the land register and plays a central role in the distribution of costs. As a condominium owner, you not only contribute to the maintenance costs of the common elements, but also to the ongoing operating costs according to your own share.
Focus on special ownership
Special ownership extends to the individual residential unit, be it a flat, an office or a commercial unit within the building. The owner enjoys exclusive rights and can act as they see fit. Changes to the interior design or room layout are permitted as long as they do not affect the common parts and do not violate any laws.
However, the special right relates exclusively to the flat and any ancillary rooms such as cellar compartments, craft rooms or an attic. It does not extend to an outdoor seating area, the garden or the roof terrace, as these external elements are common property. Therefore, the consent of the community is required to make structural changes, such as installing glazing around the seating area.
Understanding your role in the community of owners
As the buyer of a condominium, you are part of a community of owners and hold shares in the common property of the building. This includes common areas, the foundations or the roof, even if your flat is not directly under the roof. These shares determine your voting share in the condominium owners’ association and your participation in common costs. Through this co-ownership, you are bound by the existing regulations and all resolutions of the condominium owners’ association, regardless of whether you wish to participate in certain decisions or not.
The Swiss Condominium Act at a glance
It is important to note that the exact rights and obligations in Swiss condominium ownership are defined by the Swiss Condominium Act (ZGB) and the regulations in the community rules. As these documents can vary from building to building, it is crucial to check the specific provisions for your condominium owners’ association.
The renewal fund and the value quotas
The renewal fund is a financial cushion created by a condominium owners’ association to finance future renovations or necessary repairs to the common property. What many people do not realise is that the renewal fund is not prescribed by law. The condominium owners’ association decides on the existence of a fund and the amount of the contributions to be made. The purpose of the renewal fund is to ensure that the value of the property is maintained. The relationship between the renewal fund and the value quotas is crucial, as the value quotas determine the amount of each owner’s contribution to the fund. An owner with a higher value ratio contributes more to the renewal fund than someone with a lower ratio. This reflects the greater benefit and value share of the overall property.
It is important for owners to know both the status of the renewal fund and their own value quotas. A well-filled renovation fund can not only cover future costs, but also have a positive impact on the value of the property. At the same time, owners should understand their value quotas in order to know their financial obligations and rights in the community of owners.