The Davis Stirling Act 


  1351.   DEFINITIONS.  This section contains definitions for the types of developments subject to this body of law and many of the terms used throughout the statutes.

  (a)   “Association” means a nonprofit corporation or unincorporated association created for the purpose of managing a common interest development.

  Comment: Currently, most owner associations in California (commonly called “community associations”) are incorporated at inception. Many unincorporated associations have incorporated to get important legal protection for the owners and status for the association.

  (b)   “Common Area” includes all of the property (including buildings) in the development that is not included in the “separate interests” (defined below). Ownership in the common area may be by fee simple (basically meaning holding all rights of ownership), by life estate (generally meaning someone has been granted a right of occupancy of the property so long as they live) or an estate in years (like a life estate, but for a specified number of years). “Common area” in a planned development may consist of property and/or mutual or reciprocal easement rights (see 1351(f), (k).

  Comment: “Common area” in condominium developments generally includes the recreational area, facilities and amenities, open space areas, and all land and buildings. In condos, usually, the owners of “separate interests” own the airspace in their Unit, to the walls and floors, and a pro rata share of the common area in equal shares with the other owners as tenants-in-common.

  “Common area” in planned developments (aka PDs or PUDs) usually includes the recreational areas and facilities and the land they sit on, greenbelts and green areas, sidewalks, and/or private streets. The association usually owns the common area. Sometimes there is no obvious Common Area. “Common area” may also include the rights of the association to assess owners and record liens to collect the assessments, such as for enforcement of the CC&Rs; or architectural control. The reason for the qualifying words “usually” and “generally” is that there are hybrid condo and PD developments that have various combinations of ownership interests and there are also developments with misleading governing documents (meaning the development may consist of detached homes but be mapped as a condominium).

 (c) “Common Interest Development” includes all of the following types of developments:

            (1)        A community apartment project.
            (2)        A condominium project.
            (3)        A planned development.
            (4)        A stock cooperative.

  (d) “‘Community Apartment Project’ means a development in which an undivided interest in land is coupled with the right of exclusive occupancy of any apartment located thereon.

  Comment:  “Undivided interest in land” is like tenancy-in-common ownership, but here the owner gets the right of occupancy rather than fee simple ownership of the Unit, plus the pro rata interest in the land rather than the buildings.