The Civil Code provides, in specific cases, that it is compulsory to annex to the preliminary contract documents which become an integral part of the contract.
Information note (memorandum)
In the case of the sale of a fraction in a divided co-ownership residential immovable , and this immovable comprises or is part of a complex comprising at least ten dwellings, the Civil Code of Quebec provides that the preliminary contract must be completed by an information note which must be remitted to the promisor-purchaser, at the signing of the preliminary contract.
The information note provides additional protection to the purchaser, as it supplies relevant information on the essential characteristics of the project. It should be given to you if you are considering making a purchase in a new co-ownership or one under construction, or in an immovable which has been the object of major renovations to the extent that it is deemed to be a new building.. In the case of the resale of an apartment in an existing co-ownership, the vendor – if he is not the developer or the builder of the co-ownership – is not compelled to give you an information note at the signing of a bilateral promise of purchase and sale.
The content of an information note?
The Law provides that the information note should include:
Even though the bulk of the information therein is self-evident, a portion of the information needs to be explained. The overall property development plan and the general development plan of the project are generally in the form of architectural and preliminary cadastral plans prepared by the land surveyor; they will allow you to have a general idea of the future location of the immovable(s) in the project, more particularly, of the commons portions or common services.
The specifications, which are generally prepared by an architect, are in a technical document describing the materials and components of the apartments and listing among other items, the types of light fixtures, the trade names of the baths, showers, cupboards and kitchen counters. It is therefore essential that you consult this document to know precisely what you are purchasing.
The budget forecast for the first year of a co-ownership, should be prepared on the basis of a complete year of occupancy of the immovable, from the registration date of the declaration of co-ownership. This budget should include, more particularly, a statement of debts, claims, and general and common expenses. It also shows, for each fraction, the real-estate taxes owing, the rate of assessment and the annual condo fees payable, including the contribution to the contingency fund, if applicable. The careful review of the information note will allow you to determine if you can afford living in the co-ownership project, as you will be able to estimate the monthly payment for common expenses.
The information note must contain a statement of the leases granted by the developer or the builder on the private or common portions of the immovable, indicating the maximum number of fractions to be leased. This information is important as when many apartments are leased in a co-ownership, the cost of the insurance coverage is often higher in comparison with co-ownerships where most of the apartments are occupied by their owners. Furthermore, when the developer rents many units he keeps the votes attached to these units, which gives him a certain degree of control on the decisions at the general meetings of the co-owners.
A copy of the proposed declaration of co-ownership, even in draft form or a summary of it must be annexed to the information note.
Contract of guaranty
For residential projects governed by the Regulation respecting the guarantee plan for new residential buildings, being those comprising four residential superimposed private portions or less, the purchaser and the contractor must sign the contract of guarantee approved by the “RBQ” (Quebec Construction Board). This contract reproduces the provisions of the Regulation respecting the guarantee plan for new residential buildings and describes in detail the coverages offered, the procedure to make a claim and the recourses available in the event of a problem with your contractor. It should provide, amongst other information, the name and addresses of the purchaser and of the contractor, the date and location of the signing of the contract by the contractor, the description of the building, the addresses of the director and the accreditation and licence number of the contractor.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW! In the case where an information note is not required by Law for the project in which you are interested, nothing prohibits you from asking the developer to give you the information that such a note should contain. This is precious information for a wise purchase.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND: Receiving a well prepared and detailed information note shows professionalism on the part of the developer and his wishes to give adequate information to the purchasers interested in his project.
WARNING! Many developers grant leases to telecommunication companies allowing them to install antennas on the roof or the façade of the building. You should be informed of this occurrence before your purchase. The information note include this information.
CONSULT THE PUBLICATION: Purchase and sale of a condo: Everything you should know at pages 144 and following.