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.
Conflicts within co-ownerships are not uncommon. They can arise between co-owners, in particular in the context of neighborhood annoyances (noise, abusive uses of the common portions) but also between the board of directors and the co-owners. They can be resolved amicably, for example through mediation, or through the judicial process or arbitration. The Code of Civil Procedure encourages alternative methods of dispute resolution, such as mediation, arbitration or conciliation. It even obliges the parties to "consider" the use of private methods of prevention and settlement of their dispute before judicializing their dispute. These methods of settlement are in principle more user-friendly, accessible and expeditious.
If your co-ownership suffers a "substantial loss" as a result of an incident, you must use the services of an insurance trustee in accordance with article 1075 of the Civil Code of Québec. This section stipulates that "the indemnity owing to the syndicate following a substantial loss is, notwithstanding article 2494, paid to the trustee appointed in the Constituting Act of the co-ownership or, when none has been appointed, designated by the syndicate".
The insurance trustee is a key person. His role is to manage the indemnities paid by the insurer. It ensures that the money available is in fact used to "repair or rebuild the immovable". All in all, the interest of the co-owners and their hypothecary creditors is protected. Indeed, it is in their best interest that the immovable is repaired or even rebuilt.
In principle, co-owners have the right to enjoy their private portion as they see fit. This use nevertheless has limits, namely that the right of enjoyment must not exceed normal neighborhood inconveniences. If the nuisance caused by an occupant of the immovable becomes excessive, it constitutes an abnormal neighborhood disturbance. This is the case in the event of non-compliance with clauses relating to the peaceful enjoyment of private portions, stipulated in the by-laws of the immovable. However, an abnormal neighborhood disturbance does not systematically constitute a violation of the declaration of co-ownership, as in some circumstances, this type of nuisance can be sanctioned, even if the perpetrator has not committed any fault.
Co-owners (or a director) can now take legal proceedings to oppose decisions taken by the Board of directors. Article 1086.2 of the Civil Code of Quebec, which came into force on January 10, 2020, allows the court to set aside or, exceptionally, to correct a decision of the board of directors. The proceedings must be initiated within 90 days of the decision of the board of directors. In order to promote stability of the Board’s decisions, the legislator allows to bring such recourses only in certain circumstances
The co-owners have a legal proceeding when they oppose decisions taken by the general meeting of co-owners. They generally seek to contest decisions they consider unjustified. In order to promote the stability of the decisions made at the general meeting, the legislator allows such recourse only in certain circumstances. Thus, Article 1103 of the Civil Code of Québec provides that any co-owner may apply to the court to annul or, exceptionally, to amend a decision of the general meeting if the decision is biased, if it was taken with the intent to injure the co-owners or in contempt of their rights, or if an error was made in counting the votes.
Most buyers attach great importance to an apartment area/price ratio. Therefore, before signing the deed of sale, take time to carefully measure the area of your unit. Discrepancies between what is shown on the plan provided at the signing of the preliminary contract, versus the actual area shown on the cadastral plan or the certificate of location are frequent. This difference can be explained by many factors listed in the factsheet entitled The Area of the Private Portion.
Any co-owner may have the relative value of their fraction, as well as the allocation of common expenses, revised according to certain conditions and formalities. To do so, it is necessary to proceed with an appeal to revise the relative value of the fractions. Furthermore, a co-owner may wish to modify the relative value of their fraction. Therefore, they will have to request the prior consent of the Board of directors or the general meeting of co-owners, depending on what is required.
This revision or modification of the relative value has an impact on the proportionate share of the right of ownership (which the co-owners hold in the common portions), the number of votes they can cast at the meeting of co-owners and the allocation of common expenses. On this question, Article 1064 of the Civil Code of Québec stipulates that: “Each co-owner contributes to the common expenses in proportion to the relative value of his fraction.”