Buying a property in Portugal Condominium – Part 1

by Dra Cristina Marcelino [email protected]

In her monthly column, lawyer Cristina Marcelino will be presenting legal advice to readers of the Algarve Resident. In 2004, she set up her own legal practice in Lagos and since then has been dealing with different areas including private law, property matters and company and business taxes.

In previous articles in my column, I recommended that before buying a property within a condominium, your lawyer should make sure that all previous bills and condominium fees related to it are paid.

But what is a condominium and what does it stand for?

The words the law uses may not match many of the commercial designations you will see advertised, or that you would identify from experience.

A condominium exists (or can exist) whenever there is a common or shared property between several owners.

The concept back dates from Roman Law, although then it was in a slightly different format.

This should not be confused with a common property, which does coexist often with a condominium, but not necessarily.

One can have a common property owned by two or more people (sharing one unique property), which is the case of a shared-property/quarter share, without having a condominium.

Communal areas

Firstly, it must be said that we can only have a condominium, as such, when there are independent habitation units, with separate and independent entrances, legally designated “horizontal property”.

The concept was, for many years, an exclusive of apartments, hence the word horizontal. Nowadays the concept covers many other forms of habitation.

In a condominium, there are a number of properties and the owner of each property is solely responsible for its maintenance (if it is owned by one person only) and there are also areas of common use, in which all owners share the benefits and costs.

The law defines exactly how a condominium is established, how it can be modified, what the common areas are, who is liable for these common areas and in what amount, who can administrate them, what powers the administration has, and so on.

In the next article, we will be covering some of these aspects.

For questions/comments or clarifications, please email me at [email protected].