The Civil Code of Québec grants the syndicate of co-owners extensive powers to administer the co-ownership. These powers are established on the basis of the collective interests of the immovable.They are based on four principles: the preservation of the immovable, the administration of the common portions, the protection of the collective rights and the amendments to the declaration of co-ownership.
Preservation of the immovable and administration of common areas
Most of the tasks the syndicate must accomplish are centered upon a fundamental objective, namely the maintenance and preservation of the immovable. It can thus:
- Execute the necessary work to avoid deterioration of the immovable’s common areas;
- Have carried out the necessary work (within a private portion) for the preservation of the immovable or otherwise, which is urgent;
- Undertake work for the alteration, enlargement or improvement of the common portions;
- Entrust to a manager with all or part of the day to day administration, while remaining in charge of the decisions to be taken in the interest of the co‑ownership;
- Purchase or sell fractions or common portions (sections 1076, 1097 and 1098 of the Civil Code of Québec), or grant other real rights, such as a servitude;
- Join an association of co-owners syndicates to benefit from group savings, by pooling the services offered to the participating co-ownerships.
Protection of collective rights
The powers vested in the syndicate are coercive. It can (and sometimes must), without limitation:
- Ask the court to order any co-owner to respect the declaration of co-ownership, especially when by failing to do so, he causes serious and irreparable harm to the syndicate or to co-owners;
- Initiate legal action based on a latent or construction defect, faulty design, or defect in the ground;
- Collect the common expenses of the co-owners resulting from the co-ownership and the operation of the immovable, as well as the amounts to be paid into the contingency fund;
- Remove from office the director or the manager who, being a co-owner, fails to pay his contribution to the common expenses or the contingency fund;
- Deprive of his voting rights any co-owner who has not paid his share of common expenses for more than three months, or even his contribution to the contingency fund;
- Publish a notice of legal hypothec on the unit of a co-owner who, for more than 30 days, fails to pay his share of the common expenses or his contribution to the contingency fund;
- Request the court to resiliate the lease of a private portion in the event a tenant failing to comply with an obligation would cause serious prejudice to another occupant or co-owner of the immovable;
- Terminate (without penalties) a contract entered into by the provisional director for the maintenance of the immovable, or of any other nature, after the election of a new Board of Directors. Such contracts (that may be ended) must exceed one year, in which case the new directors will have 60 days (following their election) to terminate the contracts.
Amendment of the declaration of co-ownership
The syndicate may amend the declaration of co-ownership. This action is conditional upon compliance with the provisions set out in the Act. This power is strictly regulated by the Civil Code of Québec, in the sense that it can absolutely not be imposed on a co-owner a change in the relative value of his fraction, in the destination of his private portion or a change in the use he may make of it.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW! The syndicate of co-owners insures the protection of the collective interests of the co-owners. Its legal personality is unique. Its actions are generally dictated by the Board of Directors.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND: In the section known as the Constituting Act, the declaration of co-ownership establishes the nature of the powers conferred on the general meeting of co-owners and the Board of Directors.
CAUTION The syndicate of co-owners could incur civil liability if it does not fulfill its mission properly, for example by not enforcing the declaration of co-ownership or by allowing co-owners to undertake irregular work.
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