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The extent of restrictions in condominiums depends on the layout of the development. If the development consists of free-standing homes or townhouses, residents may have a fair amount of leeway as far as landscaping, for example. For buildings, the restrictions will probably be more comprehensive and more carefully enforced.

Restrictions in co-ops are far more all-encompassing. Co-op residents who wish to sell their unit, or rather, their shares, often find that the co-op bylaws are extremely strict about whom they can sell to. People who fail to meet a minimum income may be ineligible to live in a particular co-op, even if they have enough money to make the purchase. For that matter, co-op apartments in wealthy neighborhoods will sometimes refuse to sell to celebrities, citing their fear that the presence of a celebrity will draw too many fans and other celebrities to the building.

Co-op subletting is also subject to significant restrictions. Some co-ops only allow a set number of subleases per year. Thus, a person who has been transferred to another state will need to seek approval to sell the co-op or to sublet it, and that approval may not be forthcoming.

Particularly in co-ops, the board of directors wields considerable power; often the only way to gain some influence within the development is to join the board. The politics involved in decision-making is literally brought home to co-op residents, and many do not enjoy the experience.

Because many people are unwilling to put up with the restrictions found in condominium and co-op communities, it can be much harder to find a buyer to begin with. Condominiums and co-ops do not rise in value the same way houses do, so while they preserve equity they do not build as much as a private home would.

Inside Restrictions