All co-owners should supply a duplicate of the keys to their apartment to the directors of the co-ownership. The law is silent on this issue, but most declarations of co-ownership have a provision that imposes this rule upon co-owners, tenants or any other occupant of the immovable. These keys must be given to a representative of the board of directors or to the condo manager.
A right with limitations
The declaration of co-ownership generally stipulates that the holder of the duplicate keys is authorized to enter a privative portion under reserve of some conditions, such as in case of fire, or if it is necessary to intervene urgently following a ruptured pipe, an electrical circuit failure, a broken window pane, water damage, infiltration or flooding.
The administrators can not enter the apartment without a valid reason, unless having informed the co-owner within the delays provided in the declaration of co-ownership, and that the latter has given his consent (if required). For example, it would be unlawful to enter the unit (without warning) for a reason based on mere suspicion, such as to inspect work that would have been undertaken without the syndicate’s authorization. Ditto if a director wants to inspect components or have work performed therein.
In addition, the declaration of co-ownership usually provides that if the unit is equipped with an alarm system, the access code must be disclosed to the directors. Failing doing so, a syndicate cannot be blamed for interrupting the alarm, even if in doing so it damages its components. The co-owner concerned should assume the resulting repair costs, as well as any other related invoice, such as if the police is called. It should be noted that several municipal regulations provide for a fine for any false alarm, on account of the police being called to the scene.
Delinquent owners and occupants
Unfortunately, the duplicate keys and alarm system provisions are not always respected. In case of an emergency, the syndicate can therefore find itself in a quandary if it does not have the key to the unit in which an urgent intervention is required. It could then take drastic measures, depending on the nature of the event in question. Nevertheless, it is not advisable to act alone in such circumstances, because of the risk of being sued by the absent co-owner. The best thing to do is generally to call the fire department.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ! Breaking down a co-owner’s door, in his absence, will cause damage that the latter will have to assume, if he did not give access to his unit in case of an emergency. He may exercise recursory legal recourses against any person whose fault, or act, is at the origin of an emergency that justified the intervention of the fire department.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND : It is not forbidden for a syndicate to keep duplicate keys of the co-owner’s condo. It is however forbidden, except in case of an emergency, to use this duplicate without his consent.
WARNING ! The co-owner who refuses to hand over the key of his private portion to the syndicate may incur civil liability. He may be liable for damage resulting from an inability to quickly enter his unit. Keep in mind that in such cases, several declarations of co-ownership impose, under a penal clause, a fine upon defaulting co-owners.
CONSULT THE PUBLICATION : Travaux en condo : Tout ce qu’il faut savoir (Condo work: All you need to know) on pages 101 and following.