Every syndicate of co-owners has obligations regarding common portions maintenance. Article 1039 of the Civil Code of Québec provides that "Upon the publication of the declaration of co-ownership, the co-owners as a body constitute a legal person, the objects of which are the preservation of the immovable, the maintenance and administration of the common portions, the protection of the rights appurtenant to the immovable or the co-ownership, as well as all business in the common interest”.
However, this section was amended following the adoption of Bill 16. At the end of the first paragraph, referring to the syndicate of co-ownership, it reads the following sentence: "The legal person must, in particular, see to it that the work necessary for the preservation and maintenance of the immovable is carried out."
In the event that the latter fails to maintain and preserve the immovable, the syndicate may incur civil liability. This means that it is bound to have the necessary work carried out to prevent deterioration of the common portions of the immovable. The declaration of co-ownership and other legal provisions impose this obligation.
Over time, there is several maintenance or improvement work that require the Syndicate to access Private Portions, and even sometimes, work to be executed inside Private Portions.
In order that such crucial work for the Syndicate of co-owners not be obstructed, Article 1066 of the Civil Code of Québec provides that no co-owner may interfere with the carrying-out, even inside its private portion, of work required for the preservation of the immovable, decided upon by the Syndicate or urgent work.
This obligation to allow said work is opposable not only to co-owners but also to occupants and tenants.
In co-ownerships, most water heaters (electric or gas) are installed within the apartments. In such a case, this device is an integral part of the private portions of the building. Each co-owners therefore has the responsibility to ensure the proper functioning, by checking (notably) any signs of dilapidation, and, if necessary, by replacing it at its own expense. Failing to do so, in the event of a breach, a co-owner could be held liable for any damages to the common areas of the building, as well as to the private portions owned by other co-owners, up to the amount of the deductible provided for the syndicate's insurance coverage.
The law provides specific provisions, to protect syndicates of co-owners against defective work (article 1081 of the Civil Code of Quebec). The legislator aims to alleviate apparent deficiencies at the end of a project. Regarding work in common portions, the syndicate has several legal warranties. Among these are the warranties for poor workmanship, for hidden defects and for the loss of the work. These rights are worth their weight in gold, since more often than not the cost of work in co-ownerships is very high.
In addition to the legal warranties, which apply in any case, in accordance with the conditions that govern them, the contractual liability of the contractor may also be invoked, under the legal contractual regime. The contractor may also offer additional guarantees.