Before purchasing a condo, you should gather any and all information available on the coveted co-ownership. This information should be as complete and thorough as possible. Obtaining a mandate from the co-owner/vendor, allows you to ask questions to the Board of Directors. You should then be able to obtain most of the documents containing the relevant information.
Amongst the many documents to review, the four hereunder are a must:
Insurance policies of the immovable
The subscription by the syndicate of an insurance policy covering the immovable and its civil liability is compulsory under the Law and most declarations of co-ownership.This insurance must cover the common portions, the private portions (excluding the improvements carried therein), and the syndicate’s movable property. A factsheet on this subject has been prepared in the Insurance section.
Minutes of the recent meetings of the co-owners
Generally, the minutes are quite revealing of the evolution of a co-ownership, as they show the prevailing atmosphere. Thus, you will find out the state of mind of the co-owners during the general meetings. Are these meetings serene and harmonious or stressful and tense, degenerating in open conflicts or, in some cases, litigation? To find out what is going on, you should at least read the minutes of the last three years. Also, these minutes will give you a general overview of the work carried out in the immovable and what is foreseeable.
The state of the immovable statement and the maintenance log book
These two documents will allow you to gather information on the state of repair and the history of the building (for example: mechanical, electrical and structural elements).
Contingency fund statement
Like a car, the building will, sooner or later, be in need of major repairs. You must review these expenses carefully, and more particularly, work related to the roof, the elevators, the windows or any other major components of the building. All this work should be funded from the contingency fund. The money deposited therein, with the interest, shall be used only to pay for the two following expenditures: major repairs and the replacement of common portions at the end of their normal life expectancy.
Thus, the contingency fund should be sufficient; otherwise you will be called to finance it (in part) out of your own funds. An insufficient contingency fund will lead, without fail, to a call for a special assessment from the co-owners. Therefore, you should evaluate the sufficiency of the contingency fund of a co-ownership, in order to negotiate in full knowledge the purchase price of the coveted apartment.
A prudent syndicate should obtain a report on the sufficiency of the contingency fund. This exercise will allow it to know if it is sufficient.
How can I obtain the required documentation?
The purchaser should have access to the register of the co-ownership through its vendor. To read up on this matter, please refer to the questions and answers section which gives more information on how to exercise the right to consult the documentation of a co-ownership.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW! The review of the balance of the contingency fund, by consulting the financial statements of the co-ownership, allows the purchaser to make a preliminary evaluation of its sufficiency. The amounts accumulated therein (over time), are not subject to any limit. They usually are established on a variable basis, in accordance with the information in the state of the immovable certificate.
WARNING! Too many syndicates stubbornly refuse to assess sufficient contributions to the contingency fund. Therefore, it may be so deficient that it causes the property to end up in a financial quagmire, more particularly when major work becomes unavoidable. In cases where the cost of the work exceeds the financial capacity of some co-owners, the building is at risk of suffering from a lack of maintenance. In the worst case scenario, the solvent co-owners will have, eventually, to pay in the place instead of those who are not able to do so.