Work as a result of water damage

After a water damage, the ultimate goal of the syndicate and its co-owners: to find themselves in the same situation as they were in before the disaster took place. Due to its legal structure, the rehabilitation of common and private portions can be particularly complex in a divided co-ownership. Therefore, it should be taken care of by a qualified entrepreneur in the field. Situations vary from claim to claim, depending on the parts of the building affected, the extent of the damage and the source of the water, which may be clean or contaminated. This stage usually consists of four phases: 1) Emergency work, 2) Damage assessment 3) Compensation 4) Rehabilitation work.


When the source of the leak or flood is identified and all concerned have been informed, the board of directors should consider emergency work. These are the ones to be carried out immediately to limit the damage and avoid any worsening of the situation.

The syndicate will first have to contact a plumber who will carry out an emergency response. Subsequently, after the syndicate's insurer has been notified, the syndicate will generally retain qualified contractors to carry out the precautionary work after a disaster. In the event that the insurer is slow to come forward, the syndicate will have to act and contact a company after a disaster that will intervene to put in place dewatering measures. This will avoid unpleasant surprises, such as higher cleaning costs, which can significantly reduce (in the event of a major disaster approaching the amount of coverage) the sums available to carry out the rehabilitation work. Work to dewater the premises must be carried out without delay. The goal is to prevent mold from growing and creating unsanitary problems. The premises should be ventilated as much as necessary to remove any traces of moisture. To achieve this, it is necessary to:

  • Evacuate stagnant water;
  • Cut and remove the water-soaked plasterboard (usually the bottom of the walls);
  • Remove thermal insulation in contact with water;
  • Dry the sections affected by water by the installation of commercial (high flow) fans;
  • Use a professional dehumidifier with air filter (to contain contaminants and possible mold).

It will also be required to identify objects, surfaces and structures damaged by water. Photos must be taken (before the start of the demolition work) to document the inventory and allow the filing of an adequate claim with the insurer of the co-ownership. Obviously, all the necessary supporting documents must be kept (invoices of the work undertaken, detailed descriptions of the losses, photos, etc.) to present them to the insurer.


Generally, the syndicate's insurer will retain the services of a claims adjuster, whose role is, among other things, to estimate the extent and amount of damage resulting from the water damage and to determine whether the loss is admissible. The appointment of such a stakeholder by the insurer is not automatic, it will depend on whether:

  • The amount of the claim is greater than the amount of the deductible;
  • The syndicate intends to claim or not compensation from its insurer.

In terms of rehabilitation work, insurers do business with their own business partners whom they select according to the quality of their services and their speed of action. They will see to agree on the terms of the contract according to the rates in force between them. Although the insurer cannot impose on its insured a contractor to carry out the work, it is generally recommended to call on the contractor designated by the latter. The insurer will, in principle, assume control over the costs and compliance with the estimate of the rehabilitation work of the building. However, if the latter is not at the rendezvous, after an evaluation has been carried out, the syndicate must call on a contractor in order to obtain a quantified estimate for the repair of the damaged premises.

In the event of damage to the improvements made to the units, it is up to each affected co-owner to make the claim for compensation from his insurer and subsequently to obtain a repair quote. Such a quote thus obtained will make it possible to decide between the amounts of compensation due by the insurer of the co-owner who has suffered damage and the insurer of the syndicate of co-owners.


In the case of damage insurance, an insurer has the obligation to indemnify its insured within 60 days of receipt of the notice of loss or following receipt of the relevant information and vouchers requested by the insurer. Remember that the syndicate has the obligation to cooperate with its insurer by communicating all the circumstances surrounding the claim as well as the supporting documents required by the latter. If the latter is not in accordance with the scope of the work or the interpretation of the insurance policy, he may call on an independent claims adjuster of his choice, at his expense, to carry out a counter-expertise.




Article 1039 of the Civil Code of Quebec provides, in particular, that the object of the syndicate is the conservation of the immovable and all operations of common interest. However, this section was amended following the adoption of Bill 16. At the end of the first paragraph, referring to the community of co-owners (syndicate), the following sentence can be read: " The legal person must, in particular, see to it that the work necessary for the preservation and maintenance of the immovable is carried out.". In addition, the syndicate has an insurable interest throughout the building, including the private portions. He must take out insurance providing for a reasonable deductible, against the usual risks covering the entire immovable, excluding improvements made by a co-owner to his part when they can be identified in relation to the description of this part. By granting an insurable interest in the private and common portions to the syndicate, the legislature clearly wanted the syndicate to be responsible for repairing the loss.

On the other hand, if the syndicate decides not to claim compensation (for example, when the damage is relatively minimal), it becomes its own insurer. He will therefore have the obligation to see with diligence to the reparation of the damage caused to the property of the insured.


However, it should be noted that the insurer is entitled to reserve the right to repair, rebuild or replace the insured property as set out in article 2494 of the Civil Code of Quebec. If this is the case, the insurer becomes the prime contractor of the work and the indemnity nature of the insurance will only be met if the repairs are complete and not defective. In other words, the insurer is required to guarantee the quality of the work when it chooses to assume the repair itself.

However, there is an exception to the ability to make reparation, namely when an insurance trustee is appointed following a substantial loss. Thus, the appointment of a trustee defeats the insurer's right to have the work carried out. It is worth remembering that the choice of a trustee must be made judiciously in the sense that the insurer is released from any liability for deficient administration once it has transmitted the insurance indemnity to the trustee.

 WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ! The administrative management of a claim by the manager (travel, taking precautionary measures, assistance with expertise, follow-up of file ...) may be the subject of remuneration. This is generally established according to an hourly rate defined in the manager's contract. TO KEEP IN MIND : When it comes to rehabilitation work, insurers offer contractors with whom they have agreements. They will see to agree on the terms of the contract according to the rates in force between them. Although the insurer cannot impose on its insured a contractor to carry out the work, it is generally recommended to use them to avoid debates on the cost of the work. Despite this attractiveness, the insured is entitled to know the nature of these agreements.

WARNING ! The costs of repairing the damaged thing are limited to its replacement value, and this without the victim suffering an impoverishment or making a profit. In this regard, the claims adjuster is required to provide the insured with explanations relating to the estimate of the damage, in particular as to the calculations made and the percentage of depreciation (if applicable) as well as explanations concerning the terms of the settlement and the measures that the insurer intends to take.


Return to the super factsheet Water damages

Back to the factsheets