March 20, 2020 – Condo managers are very busy these days because of the coronavirus (COVID-19). And for good reason, since several syndicates of co-owners have seniors in their buildings, but also occupants who are hostile to containment measures.
"Last weekend, a Montreal co-owner threw a tantrum because the building manager closed the pool. This co-owner was so upset that he requested his dismissal," revealed Lawyer Emeritus and Secretary General of the RGCQ, Yves Joli-Coeur, in an interview with Radio-Canada yesterday.
Hygiene Measures: It is Complicated
Implementing hygiene measures is the challenge par excellence for directors, as well as condo managers, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures could include daily cleaning of door handles, stair railings and elevator buttons.
According to an online survey posted on the Condolégal.com website, 66% of Québec condominiums have yet to take any specific measures to limit a possible contagion. Just a few days ago, the rate of lack of preparation exceeded 80%.
Yves Joli-Coeur specifies that the co-ownership directors have a legal obligation to implement measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. They may lack in the obligation of result, but they must implement maintenance routines in all common areas to prevent exploitation of certain community locations. In some condominiums, several seniors living there are 90 years old. This clientele is at high risk of dying of coronavirus if they contract it.
The Collective Interest
Yves Joli-Coeur expects several co-owners to oppose the closure of gathering places. Some people at risk of infection could also renounce voluntary isolation. Not everyone has the same sensitivity to the collective interest, observes this lawyer.
The boards of directors shall issue warnings and impose sanctions on recalcitrant co-owners. "It is essential to be able to impose directives and, eventually, to crack down on behaviours that put the health of building occupants at risk. »
Questions to Come
Furthermore, managers could recommend that syndicates draw on their contingency funds to cover the financial losses incurred by a co-ownership, even if this fund is to be used only for major repairs and replacement of common portions.
As a lawyer, we would say, "You cannot take the money out of the contingency fund because it is not meant for that. But in the current circumstances, should we carry out the letter of the law," asks Yves Joli-Coeur.
He invites managers to consult the Condolegal.com website. You can click on the Free Ask Your Question section to get an answer. Furthermore, this lawyer recommends that boards of directors no longer hold meetings until further notice. This will prevent the risk of the virus spreading.
Montreal, March 20, 2020