Common property

In accordance with section 1(5) of the Wohneigentumsgesetz (WEG – German Residential Property Act), common property is the “land and parts, facilities and equipment of the building that are not private property or the property of a third party”. In practice, common property occurs in home ownership. The German Residential Property Act distinguishes between common property and private property.1 Private property is the ownership of an apartment in conjunction with a severalty ownership share of the common property (home ownership) to which it belongs. Private property and the severalty ownership share are inseparable from each other and can therefore only be sold or encumbered jointly (section 6 WEG). Part ownership is when there is private property for non-residential purposes (e.g. offices, garages, etc.). This is distinct from a special right of use, which is merely the transfer of a part of the common property for sole use (e.g. part of the garden, a specific parking space). Certain parts of the building cannot be declared private property in accordance with section 5(2) WEG. These are essentially parts of the building that are necessary for its existence or safety. Facilities and equipment can also not be private property if they serve the common use of the homeowners.2

In particular, common property therefore includes structural elements like foundations, supporting and retaining walls, roof, ceilings, staircases, corridors that provide access to more than one private property, insulation, lifts, entrance doors, windows, heating systems, main lines for utilities and disposal, etc.3

The homeowners, the administrator and – if any – the administrative board are responsible for the management of the common property. All homeowners must pay the ongoing operating and administrative costs according to their share of the common property (section 16(2) WEG), unless agreed otherwise. The homeowners are jointly responsible for maintenance and repairs as well. Unless agreed otherwise, they bear the costs according to their severalty ownership shares (section 16(2) WEG).4

Private property is distinguished form common property in the declaration of division, the communal regulations or the partition plan. In practice, this often leads to litigation because opinions with respect to ownership often differ within the homeowner association. However, this also happens because declarations of division designate areas that necessarily belong to the common property as private property.5
  • 1 Vgl. Schneider, Hans-Josef; Oldenburg, Regina (2014): Die Teilung nach dem Wohnungseigentumsgesetz. In: Usinger, Wolfgang; Minuth, Klaus: Immobilien, Recht und Steuern. Handbuch für die Immobilienwirtschaft, 4. Aufl. Stuttgart, S. 111.
  • 2 Vgl. Schmidt, Joachim (2013): Das Wohnungseigentum. In: Schulte, Karl-Werner; Kühling, Jürgen; Servatius, Wolfgang; Stellmann, Frank: Immobilienökonomie II. Rechtliche Grundlagen, 3. Aufl. Oldenburg, S. 95.
  • 3 Vgl. Schneider, Hans-Josef; Oldenburg, Regina (2014): Die Teilung nach dem Wohnungseigentumsgesetz. In: Usinger, Wolfgang; Minuth, Klaus: Immobilien, Recht und Steuern. Handbuch für die Immobilienwirtschaft, 4. Aufl. Stuttgart, S. 111.
  • 4 Vgl. Sailer, Erwin; Grabener, Henning J.; Matzen, Ulf (Hrsg.) (2014): Immobilien-Fachwissen von A-Z. Das Lexikon mit umfassenden Antworten und Erklärungen auf Fragen aus der Immobilienwirtschaft, 10 Aufl. Kiel, S. 434-435.
  • 5 Vgl. Schmidt, Joachim (2013): Das Wohnungseigentum. In: Schulte, Karl-Werner; Kühling, Jürgen; Servatius, Wolfgang; Stellmann, Frank: Immobilienökonomie II. Rechtliche Grundlagen, 3. Aufl. Oldenburg, S. 95.
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: 18.09.2019