Common Elements, Common Facilities, Controlled Facilities, Oh My!

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Municipalities often require developers to create Planned Community Associations as part of residential subdivisions.  The Association is then required to own, maintain and/or regulate certain improvements within the Community.  As the Declarant of the Planned Community, it can be a daunting task for developers to properly identify Common Elements, Common Facilities and Controlled Facilities.  What is the difference between Common Elements, Common Facilities and Controlled Facilities within a Planned Community? 

  • Common Facilities include any real estate within the Planned Community which is owned by or leased to the Association.  For example, Common Facilities may include the open space, stormwater management facilities, private drives, entrance gates, retaining walls, etc. 
  • Controlled Facilities, on the other hand, are any improvements within the Planned Community that are not owned by the Association, but which are maintained, improved, repaired, replaced, regulated, managed, insured or controlled by the Association.   Controlled Facilities are often located on a Unit, such as storm sewer easement areas, drainage easement areas, clear sight triangle easement areas, snow storage easement areas, on-lot sewage systems, etc.  Furthermore, specific restrictions set forth in the Rules and Regulations of the Association may create Controlled Facilities.  For instance, if the Association regulates the design of all storm doors to be used on dwellings in the Community, the storm doors would be considered Controlled Facilities since they are regulated by the Association. 
  • Common Elements are defined by the Pennsylvania Uniform Planned Community Act as Common Facilities or Controlled Facilities.  This is important to note when referring to Common Elements in Planned Community documents as it can be unclear as to whether the Common Facilities, Controlled Facilities, or both, are being identified.  Often times, the term Common Elements is used when one actually intends to refer to Common Facilities.  Though confusing, it is important to correctly and appropriately identify the improvements within the Community so that members of the Association are able to clearly identify their maintenance obligations.

Are you appropriately identifying Common Facilities, Controlled Facilities and Common Elements in your communities? 

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