- Legal proceeding : Legal proceeding
Definition : Legal proceeding
A procedure whereby, a natural or legal person makes an application to the courts to obtain the enforcement or recognition of their rights or the protection of their legitimate interests. The parties must consider opting for the private dispute prevention and resolution process before instigating legal proceedings.
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?
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.
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.”
The law provides that a syndicate must keep a register at the disposal of the co-owners. In most cases the declarations of co-ownership list the items it contains. This register is the memory of the syndicate, and consequently, its archives. In is thus invaluable. Much more than a mere witness of the sound management of an immovable, it is its prime instrument. Therefore, preservation and access are the hallmarks of this register.
The declaration of co-ownership is binding upon the co-owners and, in principle, on the occupants and tenants of the immovable. It is the responsibility of the Board of Directors to enforce its content. By failing to do so, the members of the Board may, in some cases, be held liable toward the co-owners. Anyone who does not respect it is exposed to legal proceeding based in particular on article 1080 of the Civil Code of Quebec. This action may be brought by both a co-owner and the syndicate.
Au même titre que toute autre personne physique ou morale, un syndicat de copropriété est susceptible d’engager sa responsabilité civile envers les tiers, incluant les copropriétaires de l’immeuble. Cette possibilité concerne aussi pécuniairement l’ensemble des copropriétaires puisqu’un jugement condamnant le syndicat à payer une somme d'argent est exécutoire contre lui et contre tous les copropriétaires qui l’étaient au moment où la cause d'action a pris naissance, proportionnellement à la valeur relative de leur fraction.