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Condominium Law #5038 of of 1958

Text by Guzmán Ariza & Asociados

Article 1. - The ownership of buildings comprising two or more stories may be divided by stories or into independent apartments, dwellings or commercial units, provided that the owners have their rights registered pursuant to this Law; otherwise, they shall be governed by common law.

Article 2. - In order to enjoy the special status established by this law, the apartments, dwellings or commercial units into which buildings are divided should have a direct exit to a public way, a yard, a staircase or common hallway which would make them independently useful.

Article 3. - Every owner is the proprietor of his/her floor, apartment, dwelling or commercial unit, and failing an inscription to the contrary in the title deed, all owners are co-owners of the land and of all parts of the building which are not reserved for the exclusive use of some of the owners, such as yards, walls, roofs and foundations of the floors, stairways and elevators, halls and ducts and common benefit facilities, excepting those inside each apartment.
Unit owners may extend or restrict the number of the common areas and facilities, and even limit the joint ownership of some of them to the people who use them or who should be in charge of the care and maintenance thereof by reason of the location of their respective units.

Article 4. - Unless otherwise provided, each unit owner, for the enjoyment of his/her exclusive property, may use freely the common areas and facilities in accordance with their intended purpose, without hindering or encroaching upon the lawful rights of the other unit owners. He or she shall be obligated to contribute proportionately to the expenses of conservation, maintenance, repair and administration of the common areas and facilities.

Except if otherwise agreed, such contribution shall be proportionate to the value of the divisible fractions of the building, taking into account their extension and situation. The percentage fixed in the bylaws, which should be registered upon submitting the property to the provisions of this law, may be modified only by unanimous agreement of all those concerned.

Article 5. - The rights of unit owners to the common areas and facilities are inseparable from the ownership of their respective floors, apartments or commercial units. With no need of special mention, such rights inure to the acquirer of a real, principal or accessorial right to the divided portion of the property.

Article 6. - A unit owner may dispose of, mortgage, or otherwise affect or lease the floor, apartment, dwelling or commercial unit owned by him/her, without the consent of the other unit owners.

Article 7. - Each owner, at his/her own expense, shall see to the conservation and repair of his/her own floor, apartment, dwelling, or commercial unit.

No unit owner may carry out in his/her unit improvements or alterations which may affect the safety or esthetic appearance of the building or the common facilities, nor may he/she use his/her unit for any purpose other than those stipulated in the building bylaws, and in case of doubt, to those which are presumable by the nature and location of the building; nor may he/she disturb the neighbors' peace, or carry out activities contrary to morals and propriety, or which may threaten the safety of the building.

Article 8. - The consent of all unit owners shall be required to build new floors or to carry out construction or new facilities affecting the building or its appurtenances, unless otherwise provided in the bylaws.

The consent of all unit owners shall be required in order to modify the agreements declaring, extending or restricting the number of the common areas and facilities, or limiting the joint ownership.

Article 9. - For the purposes of good management and enjoyment of the common areas and facilities, and solely by the fact of the property being organized in such manner as established by law, all the owners of the floors, apartments, dwellings and commercial units in the building form, obligatorily and as a matter of law, constitute a condominium association having legal status, which shall act as legal representative of all the unit owners, with respect to third parties and the unit owners themselves, through a manager.

The powers of the condominium association, even when drafting or amending the bylaws, are limited to actions of collective application concerning exclusively the enjoyment and management of the common areas and facilities.

Article 10. - The condominium association may replace the existing bylaws, or make additions or amendments thereto which shall be binding on all unit owners and their assigns.

However, the bylaws or the amendments thereto, as well as the exceptional covenants referred to in articles 3, 4 and 8, shall not be binding on assigns in a particular capacity, nor shall they be binding to third parties until a copy thereof shall have been filed with the appropriate Recorder of Deeds and after an inscription thereof shall have been made on back of the Original Title Deed and any existing duplicates thereof.

Article 11. - All unit owners are obligated to contribute to the payment of group insurance on the risks threatening the building or the unit owners as a whole, whenever so decided by the condominium association or by the bylaws.

Article 12. - The resolutions of the condominium association shall be binding on all unit owners, provided that such resolutions shall have been passed by majority of votes of all those concerned, in duly convened meetings.
Each unit owner shall be entitled to a number of votes in proportion to the importance of his/her rights in the property, which shall be conventionally fixed upon registering the property as provided by this law.
These voting rights may be modified only by the unanimous consent of all unit owners.

A three-fourths majority of the votes of the unit owners, and an ordinary majority of them shall be required in order to enact, amend or substitute any provision contained in the bylaws for which this law or the original bylaws do not require the unanimous consent of all unit owners.

Article 13. - If no manager is appointed by the condominium association, any owner may submit the matter to the Justice of the Peace of the jurisdiction where the building is located, so that a judicial administrator is appointed upon notice to all those concerned.

Article 14. - Unless otherwise provided in the bylaws, the manager, whether appointed by the condominium association or by the Justice of the Peace, shall be in charge of enforcing the resolutions of the meetings of the condominium association and, if necessary, shall of his/her own accord see to the protection of the common areas and facilities, and to their conservation and maintenance in good state of repair, and shall have the faculty to demand that all those concerned fulfill their obligations.

The manager's powers shall be revoked in the same manner as they were granted, either by the condominium association or by the Justice of the Peace, upon proper notice by any diligent interested party to the other interested parties, who may express their opinions. The appointment of a manager by the condominium association will result automatically in the removal of the judicial administrator.
The judicial administrator‚s remuneration shall be determined by the same order designating him/her, and such compensation shall conform to the bases established in the bylaws.

Article 15. - The manager, regardless of the manner of his designation, represents the condominium association, both as plaintiff or as defendant, and even against the unit owners themselves, individually. The manager shall be required to obtain the previous authorization of the condominium association in order to act as plaintiff or as appellant.
The manager shall act in the name of the condominium association, with no need of mentioning the name of each one of the owners.

Article 16.- Any unit owner may, in the manager's absence and if not contested by the other owners, who shall be previously advised of such matter, incur all such expenses as are necessary for the conservation or repair of the common areas and facilities, and expect to be reimbursed therefor.

Article 17. - Any difference arising among the unit owners in relation to the management and enjoyment of the building's common areas and facilities, or regarding the construction of or compliance with the bylaws, are within the realm of competence of the Land Court.
Likewise, the Land Court has competence to judge all other actions which may arise from the application of this law.

Article 18. - The contribution to be made by each unit owner toward the common expenses pursuant to article 4 is guaranteed by a lien on the unit of any owner for whose account the condominium association shall have made such payment.

This lien shall be paramount to all others and shall extend to the undivided quota part of the building's common areas and facilities, under the principle established in article 5.

Article 19.- The person or persons who wish to divide the ownership of an existing building, or of a building to be constructed, into independent floors, apartments, dwellings or commercial units under the provisions of this law must have their entitlements to the land and the improvements thereon registered pursuant to the Law of Land Registry.

Article 20. - The request for registration shall contain a description, as comprehensive as possible, of the building and the independent stories, apartments, dwellings or commercial units into which such building is divided, and the architectural, structural and installation plans shall be attached thereto.

Article 21. - No building shall be registered under this law unless the proprietors register the bylaws, which shall contain at least the following:

1. A specification of each one of the exclusive ownership parts into which the building is divided, indicating the number or letter or any other designation used to identify them.
2. The number of votes that the owner of each part of the building subjected to exclusive ownership shall be entitled to in the meetings of the condominium association.
3. The percentage that every unit owner should contribute to the common fees and expenses;
4. The bases for the manager's remuneration;
5. The use to be given to the various parts of the building.

Article 22. - Ownership of the independent stories, apartments, dwellings or commercial units into which a building is divided may be registered in the name of one natural person or body corporate, or even in the name of an undivided estate, and the sole fact that all the parts subject to exclusive property belong to just one person shall not entail the loss of the condominium status of the building.

Article 23. - The proprietary rights to independent stories, apartments, dwellings or commercial units may be registered before the building is constructed, provided that the plans have been approved by such administrative authorities as are required by law to begin the construction work.

The Title Deed shall have an inscription to that effect, as well as of the obligation assumed by all owners to participate and promptly justify to the Registry of Deeds the habilitation of the building for occupancy.

Paragraph: If the construction is not carried out for whatever reason, the owners, by means of an instrument signed by all of them and with their signatures authenticated by a notary public, shall order the Recorder of Deeds to cancel the Title Deed and to replace it according to law.

Article 24. - An Owner's Duplicate of the Title Deed shall be issued to each unit owner in the building, and in each one of such duplicates an inscription shall be made stating the lien encumbering such unit, pursuant to article 18 of this law and in such proportion as established in the bylaws. A mention shall be made also whether the building has been finished or is under construction.

Article 25. - Failing an expressed provision in the bylaws or when such matter is not established in the same, the meetings or the condominium association may be called upon three-day notice by any of the owners, by means of a notice in a newspaper with nationwide circulation and by registered letter addressed to each unit owner at his/her actual or elected domicile. The object of the meeting shall be briefly stated in the notice.

The meeting shall be held in the place established by the regulations, and if such place has not been determined, at the domicile of the person calling the meeting or of his/her representative, provided that such domicile is in the same location as the building, or at the Office of the Justice of the Peace of that jurisdiction, and this shall be stated in the notice.

Article 26. - Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the bylaws, any unit owner may be represented at the meetings by another unit owner or by a third party.

Article 27. - In the case of a unit jointly owned by several persons, only one representative may be appointed.

Article 28. - A unit owner shall elect as his/her registered domicile the place where the building is situated, if his/her actual domicile is not there.
This domiciliation shall be stated in all deeds to be submitted to the Recorder of Deeds or in the minutes of the general meeting of the condominium association, failing which, all summons and notices shall be validly served on the Clerk of the Office of the Justice of the Peace, who shall promptly inform the party concerned by registered mail.

Article 29. - The manager shall be in charge of directing the tasks to be carried out in the condominium. He/she shall select and revoke the building superintendent and shall give him/her all such orders as deemed appropriate, subject to the authority of the general meeting and abiding by the resolutions thereof.

The manager may order minor repairs without the prior authorization of the general meeting, but no other repairs may be begun except in case of emergency and with the immediate notice thereof to all unit owners.

The manager shall be in charge of the minute book of the meetings of the condominium association, as well as the account books and the documents and receipts for expenses.

Article 30. - The manager shall call the meetings of the unit owners by means of circulars, certified letters, or a notice published in a newspaper of nationwide circulation, not less than three days before the date of the meeting, as often as necessary. At every meeting, a person shall be designated to preside over it, and the manager shall perform the duties of Secretary, unless otherwise provided in the bylaws. The copies and certifications signed by the manager, except if otherwise stated in the bylaws, shall be valid with respect to the unit owners and third parties, provided that they are signed by the person who presided at the meeting, or failing this, by one of the owners present.

Article 31. - In the event of sale of a unit of the building, the owner shall previously make his/her intention known to the manager and shall pay his/her portion of the common expenses before the sale, without prejudice to any rights against the purchaser.

Article 32. - Ordinary expenses shall be made according to the budget approved annually by the unit owners.

The contribution to be made by each owner toward such and other expenses shall be stated in the minutes of the meeting where such expenses were authorized or approved.

Article 33. - The owners in general meeting shall verify all such sums advanced as are guaranteed by the lien established in article 18, and shall determine the fees remaining unpaid, based on a statement prepared by the manager containing all appropriate details and receipts.

The manager shall inform all delinquent owners of this, by certified letter.

A copy of the minutes of such meeting, certified by the manager and authenticated by a notary, shall be sufficient evidence for the purpose of registering the lien at the Registry of Deeds.

The delinquent owner may challenge the decision made at the meeting and request that the registration of the lien be canceled, within fifteen days from the date of receipt of the notice served on him/her by a process server, informing him/her of such resolution of the general meeting.

If such challenge is not made within the time provided, such decision shall be unchallengeable and enforceable. A liquidation approved in writing by the delinquent owner shall be likewise enforceable.

Article 34. - The lien established in article 18 shall be registered within three months after the date of the meeting of unit owners referred to in article 33, and each such registration shall retain a lien only on the sums advanced for covering expenses caused within a year from such date.
Any registration made after such period of time or for sums advanced with respect to expenses incurred before the last year shall become effective only from the date of such registration.

Article 35. - A unit owner may request at any time that his contribution to the common expenses be liquidated.

If the manager does not call a meeting within forty-eight hours from such request, such unit owner may call the meeting in such manner as established in article 25.

Article 36. - Any mortgage agreed to by the owner or owners before the construction of the building to guarantee loans intended to be invested in such construction shall automatically be governed by this law if the creditor agrees to it in the mortgage deed or later, and both the credit and the mortgage will be automatically divided into the independent apartments as soon as the construction is finished, in the same proportion that the owners shall contribute to the common expenses and maintenance fees, according to the bylaws, unless otherwise agreed to in writing, which should be annotated in the Title Deed.

Article 37. - The owners of a property registered pursuant to this law may waive their benefits, by executing a document bearing the signatures of all the unit owners authenticated by a notary, provided that all the apartments are free of liens and that the condominium association is free of debts of whatever nature.
The sole owner of the property wishing to renounce to the benefit of this law shall proceed in like manner. Such documents shall be submitted to the Recorder of Deeds so that he/she may proceed to cancel the Title Deed and replace it according to law.

Article 38.- In the case of partial or total destruction of the building by fire or for any other reason, any of the unit owners may request the distribution of the land and the materials, subject to the general provisions on undivided property. Such request shall be registered pursuant to article 208 of the Law of Land Registry.
The insurance proceeds may only be paid to such person as shall be designated by unanimous agreement of the unit owners or according to the results of the distribution.

The condominium status of the property may only be maintained by the unanimous agreement of the unit owners, determining the conditions for reconstruction.
Article 39.- In the event of the building's ruin or old age, the reconstruction thereof may only be made by unanimous agreement of the unit owners.

Article 40.- In all cases of reconstruction, the documents and plans appertaining thereto shall be submitted to the Superior Land Court so that said court orders the Recorder of Deeds to make all appropriate registrations and annotations.

Article 41.- Companies organized with the purpose of constructing or acquiring buildings divided by stories or into independent apartments, dwellings or commercial units intended to be distributed among the members, whether in property or enjoyment, or for the conservation, maintenance and administration of the property such divided, may be validly formed in such manners are as approved by law, even if their object is not the distribution of benefits.

Article 42.- No member may ask to be given exclusively, by distribution in kind, a part of the building that he/she may be entitled to, or to be kept in possession of such parcel of property, if he/she has not fulfilled his/her obligations and subscribed to his/her participation in the supplementary funds needed for the effective realization of the common funds.

If such member does not contribute his/her share of such funds in proportion to his/her commitment, or if he/she does not fulfill his/her obligations, all his/her rights to the company's assets, including those regarding the enjoyment of his/her unit in the building, may be sold in a public auction before a notary, at the request of the company's representatives, upon decision of members representing the regular majority of the capital stock.
Such sale shall be published in a newspaper of nationwide circulation, one month after a demand of payment or foreclosure made to the delinquent member if such demand has not been satisfied.
There should be a term of not less than fifteen days between the date of publication and the sale.

Article 43. - Upon the dissolution of the company, the members in general meeting may designate one or several liquidators who shall proceed to the division in kind and distribution of the independent apartment or apartments belonging to each member under the bylaws or according to their rights.

The proposed division and distribution agreement prepared by the liquidator or liquidators, when the bylaws have not provided a special manner of distribution, shall be approved by the members in general meeting, with the majority vote of more than 50 percent of the members representing two-thirds of the capital stock.
This decision shall be binding on those members not present or not represented at the general meeting, whether they are members or beneficiaries or assigns of a promise of distribution.

The rights and obligations of a deceased member whose estate has not been liquidated shall be distributed undivided in the name of his/her estate, without prejudice to the rights of the heirs or assigns, and without their presence in the proceedings implying acceptance of the estate on their part.

Within a month from the approval at the general meeting of the division and distribution proposal, the liquidator or one of them shall have notice served on the members who have not signed the minutes of the meeting, requesting them to do so within a period of one month.

If the minutes are not signed by all the members within this last period of time, the liquidator or one of them shall request from the Superior Land Court the homologation of the division and distribution, and such court shall render judgment in a sole instance and shall communicate its decision to the Recorder ofDeeds for the execution thereof.

Article 44. - The provisions contained in article 664 of the Civil Code shall continue governing the property not registered in the cadastre, and the property that although registered in the cadastre is not subjected to the system established by this law.

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