Bulgarian Condominium Ownership
By Maria Thermann

Bulgarian Condominium Ownership

If you are planning to buy one or more condominiums in Bulgaria, you will be asked to sign a contract that pertains to the management of the common parts of the building in which your condominium is located. In Bulgaria the rights and obligations of users, tenants and owners of condominiums with regard to the management of the common parts of buildings are strictly regulated under the Condominium Ownership Management Act, or COMA for short. This came into effect on 1st May 2009 and has since been amended several times.

COMA covers the management regime of the common parts of buildings under condominium ownership arrangements, where buildings are constructed in closed-type residental complexes. A notorized contract exists between the investor or developer of such complexes and each of the owners of the individual housing units. Once each signature has been notorized, the contract must be registered by the investor or developer with the Registry Agency for each individual condoninium unit. This will then be referenced to the subsequent purchaser of said units.

There are some exceptions to this rule. In buildings that contain up to three independent units that belong to more than one owner, different rules apply, according to the provisions of Article 30, paragraph 3, and Article 31, paragraph 1 and Article 32 of the Property Act.

The contract governing the condominium management relates to the controls and procedures over the use and maintenance of the complex's common areas and compliance with the internal regulations in the building under the condominium ownership arrangement. However, it also covers the control over the fulfilment of the obligations of the users, tenants and owners.

What form the condominium management takes will be decided at the General Meeting held by the Assocation of Owners, with the investor/developer representing the unsold units. In principle, the management consists of the General Meeting body and the manager or Management Board. The General Meeting of the Association is permitted to make a decision, which must be approved by a majority exceeding 50% of the represented notional shares in the Association, before the decision can be adopted. For example, the decision can be to assign powers of the Manager or Management Board to individuals who are not owners but tenants or users. The contract for authorisation must be executed by a person authorized by the General Meeting of the Association. Even for small matters pertaining to the management and maintenance of common areas this rule applies.

Costs of Management and Maintenance of Common Parts

Under the condominium ownership arrangement all costs will be equally shared between users, tenants and owners.

Costs include repairs and renovations, reconstruction and rehabilitation of common parts, even replacement of common facilities and equipment (for example lawn mowers or cleaning utensils). The decision of what will be repaired etc lies with the General Meeting of the Association of the owners.

Before any repairs etc can be carried out, the General Meeting of the owners or the Association must establish and maintain a Repair and Renovation Fund that will cover the costs for repairs, renovation etc of the common areas that are described in the decision of the General Meeting of owners at the outset of the ownership arrangement. The costs will be distributed among the owners of the individual units in proportion of the notional shares of the common parts of the building held by said owners.

Each building must have a Condominium Book that is kept up-to-date and maintained. This should contain the information on respective properties and their owners, users and tenants. Decisions of the governing bodies that are adopted in accordance with the condominium ownership arrangements are strictly mandatory for all owners of the building's units.

The provisions of the Ownership Act will apply to any issues not covered by the COMA arrangement. Owners will be supplied with a list of the main obligations that they must comply with, for example not to cause damage to common areas, not to rent them out illegally and not to participate in any activities that may cause inconvenience or disturbance to other occupants of the building. The obligations also include to implement the decisions made by the General Meeting, to pay contributions regularly for the necessary expenses of repairs etc and to comply with the sanitary-hygiene standards set out in the Ownership Act.

It may not always be possible for foreign owners to be present at General Meetings or to check that all decisions are adhered to. It is possible to engage companies for the management and maintenance of the building. Such companies can even pay the bills on behalf of the Association, collect payments from owners and users or rent out condominiums on behalf of owners. Before signing any contract with such a management company, it is advisable to consult a lawyer, who may take up references on behalf of the owner and check the contract's details.

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