Many co-ownerships have elevators because they are built vertically. Occupants who live there, especially those who are elderly or have reduced mobility, expect them to be in continuous operation. The syndicates of co-owners concerned are thus required to guarantee that the lifts are brought up to standard. Elevators must be kept in good working order, safety work must be carried out and the technical inspection of the elevator must be carried out according to the requirements of the Safety Code. If they are out of order, it could be the cause of serious inconvenience to the occupants, and the syndicate’s liability could be invoked.
It should be noted that, under section 1039 of the Civil Code of Québec, the purpose of a syndicate of co-owners is to preserve the immovable, and to maintain and administer the common portions. In addition, section 1077 stipulates that "The syndicate is liable for damage caused to the co-owners or third persons by faulty design, construction defects or lack of maintenance of the common portions, without prejudice to any recursory action’’.
Juridical status of elevators
In divided co-ownership, elevators are presumed (section 1044 of the Civil Code of Québec) to be common portions. Consequently, declarations of co-ownership generally qualify this equipment as such.
The Building Act
In addition, elevators are subject to the Building Act. One of the objectives of this act is to ensure the quality of the construction work of a building and its equipment, including elevators and other lifts. It is also intended to ensure the safety of the public accessing a building or equipment.
Under the Building Act, which applies to all types of immovables, including those held in divided co-ownership, the owner of a building, elevator or other lifts must comply with the Safety Code (chapter B-1.1, r.3), which contains various chapters, related to plumbing, electricity, building and elevators and other elevating devices. In pursuit of this objective, the Building Act has enabled the RBQ to adopt a Construction Code and a Safety Code.
Requirements related to construction work
Chapter IV (Elevators and other lifts) of the Construction Code sets out the requirements for the construction work of elevators and other lifts installed within a building or designated as equipment for public use.
Requirements related to maintenance
Chapter IV (Elevators and other lifts) of the Safety Code groups together the requirements for the maintenance of elevators and other lifts. These requirements cover the use, operation, maintenance, verification and testing of elevators and other lifts. In this regard, the main control measures implemented by the RBQ include:
Annual fee payable to the RBQ
Since 1999, the owner of an elevator or other lift must pay an annual fee to the RBQ for the services it provides them. The fee includes an annual fee for elevators and other lifts, inspection fees for the same devices, as well as for sending any remedial notices.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ! Every syndicate of co-owners must allow the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ) to affix an identification plate to its elevators.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND : Elevators are subject to Chapter IV of the Construction Code, as well as Chapter IV of the Safety Code. The first is to establish standards for the construction of a building, while the second is to ensure the safety of anyone accessing it.
WARNING ! The objective of the Building Chapter from the Safety Code (BCSC), which came into effect on March 18, 2013, is the safety of occupants and people travelling in the vicinity of a building. It applies, inter alia, to any building containing apartments held in divided co-ownership comprising more than two floors (in height) and more than eight units.