Contingency Fund study

The Contingency Fund study is an essential step in the sound management of an immovable held in co-ownership. You should be aware that the amounts paid into this fund are often insufficient, taking into account the amounts required for the necessary work to be carried out on the common portions of the immovable.

At least four out of ten syndicates of co-owners state, based on surveys, that they do not have enough money to finance this work. This number increases considerably in immovable built before the year 2000. To alleviate this situation, syndicates caught unprepared use special assessments.

 

Setting up a sufficient Contingency Fund

The Contingency Fund should provide, over a 30 year period, the financial resources necessary to carry out the work in the co- ownership. A shorter horizon could distort the data because it may exclude some components from the calculation, such as the roof and windows. However, in Quebec, about half the syndicates of co-owners do not have any management tools at their disposal to insure the Contingency Fund is adequately funded. This proportion drops significantly when the immovable is managed by a co-ownership manager.

The Contingency Fund study: a must

Yet, the Contingency Fund study is a must at the outset of the co-ownership, because it allows the creation of a short-, medium- and long-term financing plan, so that the repairs or replacements of the common portions may be carried out. In order to do so, this study will specify what the syndicate will have to save annually, to ensure a sufficient Contingency Fund.

Adequate planning requires thorough forecasting. Article 1071 of the Civil Code of Québec stipulates that the calculations must take into account the needs of the co-ownership, "according to the estimated cost of major repairs and the cost of replacement of common portions".

Methodology

The Contingency Fund study has a physical component and a financial component. The condition and life expectancy of the various components of the immovable should be assessed and the repair and replacement costs estimated.

This study generally comprises four steps:

  • A visual inspection of the immovable's major components to determine their physical condition and expected useful life expectancy (e.g. mechanical components of the ventilation system);
  • Sequencing the work to be carried out;
  • An appraisal of the common portions repairs and replacements costs, based on their useful life expectancy;
  • The analysis of the various financial co-owners contributions scenarios, taking into account the inflation rate and the income generated by the fund.

At the end of the exercise, a report will be produced, identifying the various components reviewed in the Contingency Fund study, the estimated cost of the work and the financial contributions required, depending on the scenario retained.

Update

Even if the study of the Contingency Fund has been prepared in accordance with the rules of the trade, unforeseen events may occur. Some occurrences may distort the data, such as, a component failing prematurely, a loss or an economic disturbance (e.g. inflation dramatically increasing the cost of the work). It is therefore necessary to re-evaluate the study on an ad hoc basis so that a cost update could, for instance, be carried out every three to five years following a prior inspection.

Who can carry out this study?

The Contingency Fund study is a complex exercise requiring actuarial and technical expertise. The Civil Code of Quebec does not provide a requirement defining who the qualified professionals in this field are, and the method to follow. However, the Regroupement des administrateurs et copropriétaires du Québec (RGCQ) has set out parameters that led to the creation of a Standardized Contingency Fund Study. It has also implemented a certification system available to building professionals. In short, the RGCQ has created a standard of practice to ensure a better protection of the syndicates of co-ownership built up heritage.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ! Nowadays, prospective condo purchasers are more and more concerned about the deficient management of several immovables. Many of them will want to know if the amounts in the Contingency Fund are sufficient. Any syndicate should provide this information to its co-owners to avoid them losing a sale.

WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND : The “Contingency Fund" concept is based on an equity principle between the successive co-owners of the building.  Amounts are gradually accumulated in the short, medium and long term, based on an estimate of costs related to the foreseeable life expectancy of some components of the immovable. All co-owners must contribute to this fund, in accordance with the user-payer approach, as long as they own it.

WARNING ! It is the duty of the Board of Directors to fix annually, after consulting the general meeting of the co-owners the contributions to the common expenses (after having determined the sums to be paid to the contingency fund). In all matters relating to the appraisal of the amounts to be paid into this fund, the Directors must act with care and diligence, otherwise their civil liability may be engaged.

 CONSULT THE PUBLICATION: Fonds de prévoyance Gage de réussite en copropriété (Contingency fund a guaranty of success in co-ownership).

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