March 17, 2020 — Several syndicates of co-owners are wondering how to react to the coronavirus so that their day-to-day business could continue. Even if the contagion risks impose temporary isolation measures on Quebecers, co-owners should not imagine that time has stood still.
Condominiums must continue to function as adequately as possible, especially financially, in order to ensure their longevity. In this newsletter, Condolegal.com suggests some legal opinions formulated by Michel Paradis, Partner at Therrien Couture Joli-Coeur and me. This will allow you, in this time of crisis, to better understand how the day-to-day affairs of a co-ownership work.
DO YOU STILL HAVE TO PAY YOUR COMMON EXPENSES (CONDO FEES)?
Yes. The coronavirus crisis does not mean a break from condo fees. So, their collection must continue uninterrupted. Moreover, syndicates of co-owners should remind co-owners by way of a press release. Condominiums that do not have a system of pre-authorized payments, in order to collect condo fees, should remind everyone that the deposit of cheques will continue as scheduled on the first day of each month.
Furthermore, under the current circumstances, some co-owners may have difficulty paying their dues. For this reason, they must be advised of such a situation, they must be transparent with the directors. In other words, co-owners who expect to be in default of payment will have to advise the Board of Directors. They should also arrange with their directors. For their part, the latter will have to show flexibility for a few months and consider the situation of certain co-owners.
SHOULD BOARD MEETINGS BE CANCELLED?
In addition to the collection of common charges, directors must continue to have other critical responsibilities, including Board of Directors (BOD) meetings. Most declarations of co-ownership provide that they could take place virtually.
Similarly, decisions may be taken by written resolutions signed by all directors. An email confirmation of a decision by each director may serve as a resolution.
TO REMEMBER : co-owners must be informed of the decisions made by the BOD no later than 30 days after the decision. Ideally, the sooner the better.
The BOD must continue to make all useful decisions concerning the maintenance of the building. Necessary and urgent work should not be postponed unless it is impossible to find a contractor to carry it out.
In the event of a director's resignation, most declarations of co-ownership allow directors still in office (if a quorum is obtained) to designate a replacement until the next co-owners’ meeting.
WHAT ABOUT CO-OWNERS’ MEETINGS?
Given that governments are asking certain people to remain confined to their homes for a certain period, it seems appropriate to us that all co-owners’ meetings be postponed during this period.
In addition, declarations of co-ownership generally stipulate that co-owners’ meetings should be held within 90 or 120 days after the end of the fiscal year. Directors who feel they cannot meet the April 2020 deadline should, as of now, pass a resolution that would provide that:
CALL FOR CHARGES (SPECIAL CONTRIBUTIONS) WITHOUT CO-OWNERS’ MEETING
Unfortunately, we do not believe that a syndicate can impose a special emergency assessment without first consulting the co-owners’ meeting. Only a unanimous agreement of the co-owners, in writing, allows a call for charges (special contribution) to be issued to the co-owners. If they plan to do so, the syndicates concerned will therefore have to wait until the confinement is lifted, which should only last a few weeks (in principle).
Syndicates facing an exceptional situation, for example a special contribution fee cannot wait, will have to consult a legal professional in order to do things properly (legally).
Condominium managers will adopt concrete measures regarding the management of syndicates under contract. These measures will consider the current situation. They will be able to help the syndicates take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the common areas. The syndicates will have to be understanding and follow the recommendations made by their manager, without demanding from them the services that are impossible to provide under the circumstances.
For any other information concerning the situation related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), in co-ownership, ask your questions on condolegal.com by indicating C19. They will be given priority. To do so, you must click on the Free Ask your Question.