- Syndicate of co-owners : Liability
Definition : Syndicate of co-owners - Liability
The fact, for a syndicate of co-ownership, of having to answer for his or her actions and decisions. Article 1077 of the Civil Code of Quebe provides also that the syndicate is liable for damages caused to co-owners or third parties in the occurrence (amongst others) of problems related to faulty design or construction defects of the immovable, or due to a lack of maintenance of the common portions of the co-ownership. In the latter case, the syndicate is subject to a no-fault liability regime, for it must ensure the preservation of the immovable and maintenance of common portions.
I just suffered a major disaster caused by the breakage of the water supply pipe in my neighbour's shower. The water damage significantly affected my apartment and movable property. I had to be relocated for more than a month to the hotel. To make matters worse, I was not insured for this damage. However, I do not know if the defective pipe is in the common portion of the building or in the private portion of my neighbour. Question: Am I entitled to claim from my neighbour or the syndicate the sums I have had to pay so far?
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The concept of water damage also includes the liability of the syndicate, the co-owner and the tenant, who could be engaged in the event of damage suffered by third parties. The question of who is responsible for this constantly arises. However, it is necessary to know the law applicable to the culprit. Other considerations affect both the insurer of the syndicate and that of the co-owners concerned, in order to determine who will pay what. However, water damage can originate from a private portion, but also from a common portion (roof, façade, terrace, sewage discharge column that crosses the apartments, terrace).
The windows of our unit are at the end of their lives, according to a specialist who changed the thermos of a window that don't 2 windows have already cracked. Despite my express request to the syndicate to change our windows, he prefers to wait a few years to change all the windows. We have been losing the enjoyment of one of our main windows for 2 years. Its opening is a danger, because it is too heavy, weighs on the closing mechanism, and I am afraid that it falls from the 4th floor, or that the thermos breaks again. Question: What do you think are our remedies?
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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.
L’obligation du Syndicat d’entretenir les parties communes, plus particulièrement les parties communes à usage restreint, a fait couler beaucoup d’encre depuis la réforme de 1994. Souvent, les administrateurs se font tirer l’oreille lorsque des copropriétaires réclament l’exécution de certains travaux majeurs, soit un balcon sérieusement endommagé ou, comme c’était le cas dans l’affaire MARCHAND, pour une verrière qui est la source constante d’infiltration d’eau(1).
Work carried out in the common portions concerns the community of co-owners. This is reason why they are often carried out by the syndicate. Not only is this action consistent with its purpose and mission (article 1039 of the Civil Code of Québec), the purpose of which is to ensure the maintenance and preservation of the immovable, but it also arises from the onerous liability incumbent upon it if the work is poorly executed.
In the same way as any other natural or legal person, a syndicate of co-owners is likely to incur civil liability towards third parties, including co-owners. Responsibility is the counterpart of power: where authority is, there is responsibility. This responsibility can be translated into the financial contribution of the co-owners, since in the event of a judgment condemning the syndicate to pay a sum of money, this judgement will be enforceable against him and each of the persons who were co-owners at the time the cause of action arose, in proportion to the relative value of their fraction.Therefore the law obliges any syndicate of co-owners to take out insurance covering its civil liability towards third parties.