- Demand letter : Demand letter
Definition : Demand letter
An action by which a person (the creditor) formally requests, in writing, another (the debtor) to do or not to do something (to pay common expenses, to abide to the declaration of co-ownership, to suspend construction work irregularly undertaken, etc.) under certain terms and conditions and in a certain period of time. It is intended to incite the debtor to comply with its obligations to prevent the creditor from making an application to the court in this respect. In some cases, the formal notice of default is a preliminary and compulsory step to filing legal proceedings (recourse for latent defects or against a municipality for property damage).
The declaration of co-ownership is a contract that orchestrates and regulates the lives of co-owners, lessees and other occupants of the immovable. It represents the guideline for everyone who lives in the immovable.The declaration of co-ownership provides, systematically, that it is up to the board of directors to have its content abided to. However, it happens that people break the rules, in particular by a non-compliant use of a private portion with regard to the destination of the immovable, a noise nuisance and work carried out in violation of the by the laws of the immovable. Other examples illustrate the problems that can occur in the co-ownership, such as an encroachment on a common portion or the improper installation of a floor covering. Anyone who does not abide to the declaration of co-ownership is liable, inter alia, to a legal recourse based on article 1080 of the Civil Code of Quebec . This action may be brought by a co-owner or the syndicate.
The failure to pay general or special common expenses (condo fees) is one of the most contentious co-ownership’s issues. It is the duty of the board of directors of the syndicate of co-owners to collect them, unless this task has been delegated to the condo manager.
When a co-owner's contributions have been in arrears for more than three months, the law provides, ex officio, that he automatically loses his right to vote at the general meetings of the co-owners. He is also exposed to legal recourses, so that the syndicate can recover the amounts owing. A review of the options in such cases.
A bathtub or a washing machine that overflows into the apartment below, a hot water tank that conks out and spills down six floors: losses involving the civil liability of a co-owner are many co-ownerships. And they are expensive! This is why the amount of insurance premiums and deductibles have increased significantly in recent years.
Worse still, some insurers no longer want to insure co-ownerships, because of a loss ratio that has become out of control. This situation is directly related to the insurer of the syndicate, which is almost always called upon to cover a loss, when damage has been caused to the common and private portions. Thus the question of who is responsible arises. It is also necessary to know the applicable law to the owner at fault. Other considerations affect both the insurer of the syndicate and those of the co-owners concerned, to determine who will pay what?
The law regulates the liability of contractors and building professionals for any problem related to the quality of construction work. In this regard, the legislator has provided for a specific protection regime for divided co-ownership. Section 1081 of the Civil Code of Québec recognizes the legal interest of any syndicate of co-owners to assert the rights of all co-owners to correct defects that appear, in the short or long term. This could occur during the initial construction of the building, or during work carried out several years after its erection. In short, when problems affect the common portions, the syndicate benefits from several legal warranties. Among them is the one against latent defects, design or construction defects. These warranties are worth their weight in gold, because very often, the cost of the work to be carried out in a co-ownership can be substantial.
Usually declarations of co-ownership list the patrimony of the syndicate of co-owners. Among the items owned by the syndicate is the register of co-ownership. It contains all the syndicate's archives, such as the declaration of co-ownership, the up-to-date list of co-owners and tenants of the immovable and the minutes of the co-owners meetings and the board of directors meetings, enabling it to carry out its mission adequately. The co-owners must have access to this register, which can be entrusted to a director or a condo manager.
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.
Parasitic disorders in co-ownership are well and truly present. They take the form of infestations of various insects, including cockroaches, carpenter ants and Bed Bugs, not to mention rats, mouse,and field mice, whose presence has a repugnant effect and possibly harmful to human health. These insects and animals intrude unexpectedly into an apartment, or even an entire co-ownership, and can make its occupants live a nightmare. Noise in the pipes and noise at night caused by rats and mice add to the equation. Most of the time, it is up to the syndicate of co-owners, with regard to its obligation to maintain the common portions and preserve the building, to mandate a company specialized in pest management in order to carry out a disinsection or a deratization, or both.
If that is the case, three questions will need to be answered: who is to blame, who should act and who should bear the costs?
The manager bound to a syndicate by a contract for services does not have the same relationship with his client as the one who has the status of a salaried employee. That being said, regardless of the nature of the relationship between the parties, it is advisable to specify the contract’s terms and conditions, including its obligations and its possible renewal. This will prevent misunderstandings and possible litigation.
Terminating the contractual relationship between the manager and the syndicate of co-owners requires, at all times, an evaluation of the legal and contractual parameters. A review of the various scenarios illustrating the expiration or resiliation of a contract for services.
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.