The declaration of co-ownership is a contract that orchestrates and regulates the lives of co-owners, lessees and other occupants of the immovable. It represents the guideline for everyone who lives in the immovable.The declaration of co-ownership provides, systematically, that it is up to the board of directors to have its content abided to. However, it happens that people break the rules, in particular by a non-compliant use of a private portion with regard to the destination of the immovable, a noise nuisance and work carried out in violation of the by the laws of the immovable. Other examples illustrate the problems that can occur in the co-ownership, such as an encroachment on a common portion or the improper installation of a floor covering. Anyone who does not abide to the declaration of co-ownership is liable, inter alia, to a legal recourse based on article 1080 of the Civil Code of Quebec . This action may be brought by a co-owner or the syndicate.
The law regulates the liability of contractors and building professionals for any problem related to the quality of construction work. In this regard, the legislator has provided for a specific protection regime for divided co-ownership. Section 1081 of the Civil Code of Québec recognizes the legal interest of any syndicate of co-owners to assert the rights of all co-owners to correct defects that appear, in the short or long term. This could occur during the initial construction of the building, or during work carried out several years after its erection. In short, when problems affect the common portions, the syndicate benefits from several legal warranties. Among them is the one against latent defects, design or construction defects. These warranties are worth their weight in gold, because very often, the cost of the work to be carried out in a co-ownership can be substantial.
Every syndicate of co-owners has obligations regarding common portions maintenance. Article 1039 of the Civil Code of Québec provides that "Upon the publication of the declaration of co-ownership, the co-owners as a body constitute a legal person, the objects of which are the preservation of the immovable, the maintenance and administration of the common portions, the protection of the rights appurtenant to the immovable or the co-ownership, as well as all business in the common interest”. In the event that the latter fails to maintain and preserve the immovable, the syndicate may incur civil liability.
This means that it is bound to have the necessary work carried out to prevent deterioration of the common portions of the immovable. The declaration of co-ownership and other legal provisions impose this obligation.
When shopping for an apartment, you must find out if it is in a divided or undivided co-ownership. Even though both concepts are similar in that their ultimate goal is the partition of an immovable between several persons called co-owners, the financial and legal commitments are different.
The declaration of co-ownership is a convention that organizes and regulates the collective life of the co-owners and occupants of the building. This Convention defines in particular their rights and obligations. It is usually developed unilaterally by the developer or owner of the building. Legally, the declaration of co-ownership is a real contract of adhesion, because any new co-owner is obliged to adhere to it.
This is a key legal document. Its publication gives rise to the co-ownership and the syndicate. Look at the different aspects of the declaration of co-ownership.
From the first day of existence of the co-ownership, that is to say when its declaration of co-ownership is published in the Land Register of Quebec, the co-owners as one body constitute a “syndicate of co-owners”. This legal person must ensure the "preservation of the immovable and manage the common portions." To form this co-ownership several steps involving many protagonists are necessary.
Over time, there is several maintenance or improvement work that require the Syndicate to access Private Portions, and even sometimes, work to be executed inside Private Portions.
In order that such crucial work for the Syndicate of co-owners not be obstructed, Article 1066 of the Civil Code of Québec provides that no co-owner may interfere with the carrying-out, even inside its private portion, of work required for the preservation of the immovable, decided upon by the Syndicate or urgent work.
This obligation to allow said work is opposable not only to co-owners but also to occupants and tenants.
The failure to pay general or special common expenses (condo fees), as well as those relating to the contingency fund, is one of the most contentious co-ownership’s issues. It is the duty of the board of directors of the syndicate of co-owners to collect them, unless this task has been delegated to the condo manager.
When a co-owner's contributions have been in arrears for more than three months, the law provides, ex officio, that he automatically loses his right to vote at the general meetings of the co-owners. He is also exposed to legal recourses, so that the syndicate can recover the amounts owing. A review of the options in such cases.
A bathtub or a washing machine that overflows into the apartment below, a hot water tank that conks out and spills down six floors: losses involving the civil liability of a co-owner are many co-ownerships. And they are expensive! This is why the amount of insurance premiums and deductibles have increased significantly in recent years.
Worse still, some insurers no longer want to insure co-ownerships, because of a loss ratio that has become out of control. This situation is directly related to the insurer of the syndicate, which is almost always called upon to cover a loss, when damage has been caused to the common and private portions. Thus the question of who is responsible arises. It is also necessary to know the applicable law to the owner at fault. Other considerations affect both the insurer of the syndicate and those of the co-owners concerned, to determine who will pay what?
Before starting renovation work in your apartment, keep in mind that you live in a condo. Performing such work requires that you carry out prior verifications. It is necessary to refer to the declaration of co-ownership to know the co-owner’s rights and obligations toward the syndicate. It goes without saying that your work must not affect the rights of other co-owners and occupants of the immovable. In addition, it is important to know if your work will have an effect on a common portion which may be located in your privative portion, such as a load-bearing wall, a beam, a column for the various pipes of the immovable.