When you own an apartment in a co-ownership, you share the common portions, such as the roof, the lobby and the elevators in undivided ownership with the other owners. By the same token, you also share a portion of the liabilities attached to them.
You have found the apartment of your dreams. At last, you will buy the property you have coveted. But before signing the offer to purchase, nagging doubts are in the back of your mind, you have many questions:
After being victims of a loss, the members of the board of directors and the affected co-owners are often caught off guard. How will things unfold? There is no need to worry or panic, because in principle, once the notice of loss completed, various stakeholders get involved: the insurer of the syndicate, but also that of co-owners and lessees, who will respectively designate their own claim adjuster. Generally the co-owners affected by a loss, as well as the syndicate, believe that making a claim is always the right thing to do. This is true in many cases, but sometimes the syndicate might want to refrain from doing so.
Contrary to other jurisdiction, Québec Law does not compel a lessee to subscribe “home insurance” which, in the event of a loss, covers his property and his civil liability. This “negative-obligation” becomes a problem if your lessee causes damages to a third party and he is not insured. In such cases, the declaration of co-ownership can hold you (the co-owner) solidarily liable for the damages he has caused.
Your lessee is liable for any damages he causes during the term of the rental. Civil liability insurance covers him against material damages or bodily harm he may inflict (unintentionally) to third parties, and against faults committed by persons he accommodates or lodges in his dwelling. This insurance also covers damages that his property may cause to third parties. For example, it will cover water damage to your apartment generated by an overflowing washing machine, and also in a neighbor’s apartment.
Almost every insurance policy includes deductibles, in varying amounts according to the insured risk (e.g. fire and water damage). In co-ownerships, deductibles are a factor in the Building insurance, and in the third party liability insurance of the syndicate, directors, general meeting officers, co-ownership manager (gérant) and of the condo manager (gestionnaire). Regarding co-owner’s insurance, generally each home insurance policy contains one or more deductibles for various amounts according with the nature of the loss.
The insurance premiums are the amount paid by the insured monthly or annually to benefit in the event of a claim from the guarantees in the insurance policy. It is an expense towards the preservation, maintenance and administration of the immovable. Although the syndicate assumes this cost, it is charged back to the co-owners as a portion of their common expenses (condo fees).
The additional premium is a premium that is added to the existing premium. It results from a worsening of the risk or from the assumption of a new risk. This additional premium may be imposed during the course of a contract or upon its renewal. Risks are analyzed according to scales that are specific to each insurer. Ultimately, the syndicate will pay this additional premium, which will be charged to all of the co-owners through the common expenses (condo fees) or, at times, some of them.
Water damage is the leading cause of loss in co-ownership. It is more and more costly, for syndicates and their insurers. In the last ten years, occurrences of water damages have more than doubled.
Lack of maintenance, sub-standard construction and climate changes are the main culprits. In most cases water damage affects equally common and private portions, thus it is one of the most complex loss to adjust.
Effective management of a loss (e.g. water damage and fire) requires the implementation of prompt and effective actions so that your building is repaired in the best delays. This article is a summary, of the precautions to be taken and a check list of things to do once you become aware of a loss, whether in a private or common portion of your immovable.