– July 19, 2021

Condominium Ownership: Can one leave the community?

In our condominium owners’ association, we are currently discussing the renewal of the heating system. Opinions differ widely as to whether this should be done at all and what kind. There is no provision in the regulations for withdrawal. Can an individual condominium owner decide for himself and even leave, or must he remain in the community?

In questions concerning condominium ownership as a special form of co-ownership, the regulations governing the condominium owners’ association apply first. These regulate the administration and use of the (residential) property as well as special concerns of the community. To ensure that they remain unchanged beyond future changes of ownership, they should be recorded in the land register. The regulations supplement the legal rules of the Swiss Civil Code (Art. 712a ff. ZGB).


Distribution of common costs and burdens

The condominium owners are required by law to contribute to the costs of the common property and to the costs of common administration in proportion to their share of the value of the property. This includes in particular the expenses for the ongoing maintenance, repairs and renewals of the common parts of the land and building as well as the common installations and facilities (art. 712h CC). For longer-term investments, a so-called renewal fund should – but does not have to – be set up. If the majority of the condominium owners, who at the same time are entitled to more than half of the shares, decide to set up the fund, they must all participate in it.


Condominium ownership as a compulsory community

The owner must also contribute to the costs of maintaining the common parts of the building and to the common operating costs. Since membership is inseparably linked to the respective share in the condominium, the condominium owner has no right to waive membership if he or she owns a share in a condominium. In this respect, the condominium community is also a so-called compulsory or fateful community. The voluntary withdrawal of a condominium owner – to be clearly distinguished from the case of a compulsory exclusion – is therefore not provided for in condominium law. The only way to terminate condominium ownership is through a unanimous declaration of intent by all condominium owners (termination agreement). Everyone must therefore participate in jointly used facilities. It is conceivable, however, that the other condominium owners may accept a different, separate solution of the deviating owner – as far as technically feasible – and in this respect expressly exempt him from cost sharing (resolution of the assembly). In the case of a heating system, however, the realisation of two models instead of a uniform solution is likely to fail from the outset because of the space available and the cost implications.


Influence through voting rights

Which variant prevails depends on the voting right as the most important right of participation of each condominium owner in the collective decision-making process. Swiss law distinguishes between necessary, useful and luxurious construction measures, for which different approval requirements apply in the condominium owners’ meeting. Depending on the importance of the matter and the scope of a positive decision, simple or qualified majorities or even unanimity of the votes cast are required (Art. 646 ff. CC). Unless otherwise stipulated in the regulations, all costs – including operating costs – are distributed in proportion to the value of the flats.