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?
Duties and obligations of the syndicate
Under article 1039 of the Civil Code of Quebec, the syndicate is responsible for maintaining and administering the common elements, ensuring the conservation and safeguarding of the immovable, and mandating the necessary stakeholders to carry out the necessary work. When the syndicate does not adequately maintain the common portions, it is under article 1077 of the Civil Code of Quebec that it becomes liable for the damages caused by the breach.
If there are only infested common portions, or if they are the source of an infestation in one or more private portions, it will be necessary, again, to refer to article 1039 of the Civil Code of Qubec (obligation to maintain and conserve the immovable). Therefore, the board of directors will have to mandate an expert in pest management. It is the co-owners who will have to assume the entire cost of the intervention through the charges they pay to the syndicate. By entrusting a contract to a company of exterminators, which carries out prevention and weekly monitoring, the syndicate thus honors its obligation to maintain the common portions.
In the presence of vermin, the syndicate must react with dilligence, because some (such as bedbugs) reproduce and spread very quickly. To limit the serious and heavy damage associated with an infestation, it is advisable to act as soon as possible to contact a company in pest management. Its representatives will inspect the building in every corner. This will ensure that there is a real infestation and identify the type of parasite that causes headaches to occupants. This is an essential step, to ensure that the entire building will be treated properly.
Duties and obligations of co-owners and occupants
If the presence of insects or pests is limited to a private part, and the rest of the building is exempt, the board of directors must inform the co-owners of the risk that the entire building will eventually be infested. Remember that co-owners and occupants are required to maintain their apartment in order to avoid infestations by taking any preventive or curative measures.
In the event that the co-owners concerned do not act to eradicate the intruders, the syndicate must give them notice to act. That said, if they still do not act, the board of directors will itself have to mandate a company in pest management, and this, at the expense of the negligent co-owner. The latter and his beneficiary (tenant or occupant) will, for their part, have to comply with the decision of the board of directors and authorize access to their apartment. And in the absence of the cooperation of the co-owner concerned to give access to its unit, the syndicate must request an order from a judge of the Superior Court of Quebec enjoining it to give access to its unit.
Call on professionals
Before hiring a company to carry out extermination work, it is essential to ask whether it and its employees have the required qualifications, but also whether their level of experience in this area is adequate. Only experts in pest management, holders of a permit issued by the Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques du Québec, are authorized to treat the entirety of an infested building. It is advisable to establish an annual contract with them depending on the size of the building. Sometimes, several interventions may be necessary in order to solve the problem. These experts will be able to advise you,and offer you the most appropriate methods and techniques for your situation.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW! Co-owners who rent their apartment on sharing platforms are exposed to the problem of bedbugs. Some travelers carry them in their luggage. They then infest the bed of a bedroom. These bedbugs can migrate to other apartments, get inside a wall, go up two or three floors, stay dormant for a few months, and then come out in another dwelling.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND: Rats, mice, and other harmful insects are incompatible with the daily lives of people living in a divided condominium, due to their parasitic, unhygienic, and disturbing lifestyle. Because of its mission to ensure the conservation of the building, the syndicate must make every effort to keep it up to standard. This responsibility obliges him to retain, in certain circumstances, the services of experts in pest management.
WARNING! The presence of harmful insects in the common and private portions, combined with the absence of actions taken by the syndicate to observe, treat and solve the problem, disqualifies the habitability of the dwelling. However, this disqualification may constitute serious harm to a co-owner. The syndicate could therefore be held civilly liable to the co-owners, tenants and other occupants affected.