The liability of the syndicate

Like any other natural or legal person, a syndicate of co-owners is susceptible to incur civil liability. It can be invoked when performing work in common portions when one of the stakeholders of the immovable or a person in its environment suffers direct or indirect damage. It may of course be a co-owner but also all those therein, such as tenants and occupants. Its scope also extends to the owners of neighboring immovables, such as in the context of work having an impact on a common wall.

The preservation of the immovable

The syndicate’s primary mission is to be in charge of the maintenance of the immovable, to ensure its preservation of the immovable and maintenance and the administration of common portions. The law obliges it to administer the immovable, to be its custodian, to ensure its maintenance and to carry out all work necessary for its conservation. It is bestowed upon it to:

  • Maintain common portions (e.g. purchasing products and supplies, snow removal and signing various maintenance contracts);
  • Carry out the necessary work to prevent the deterioration of the immovable’s common portions;
  • Require expertise in cases of apparent lack of conformity;
  • Repair defects in design or of construction affecting common portions of the immovable;
  • Take out insurance against usual risks such as theft and fire covering the entire immovable, excluding improvements made by a co-owner to his / her private portion;
  • Have prepared a certificate of the state of the immovable and a maintenance logbook;
  • Set up a contingency fund sufficient to finance the cost of work relating to major repairs and the replacement of common portions.

Scope of the syndicate's liability

Its liability can be invoked following the execution of work in common portions. In fact, the syndicate is liable for damage to co-owners or third parties caused by design or construction defects, or lack of maintenance of common portions.

During the work, the syndicate may also see its civil liability invoked following:

  • The failure to maintain a structure or equipment;
  • Peaceful enjoyment problems of co-owners and occupants of the immovable (e.g. noise nuisance);
  • Damage to a private portion (e.g. water infiltration, plaster cracking);
  • Bodily injury to co-owners and occupants of the immovable (e.g., a co-owner injured after a fall in a non-secure location on site);

It should be noted that, if the syndicate can so be held responsible, it is "without prejudice to any recursory action ". This means that it has recourse against the "real" liable parties (contractors, sub-contractors, architects, engineers, etc.).

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ! Defects or flaws in common portions can have serious consequences for your syndicate. Indeed, it is exposed to being held liable for damage suffered by co-owners and third parties. This is why the law requires any syndicate of co-owners to take out third party civil liability insurance.

WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND : The law specifically recognizes the syndicate’s right to take legal action against persons liable for defects in design and of construction affecting common portions.

 WARNING ! The syndicate is required to administer the immovable, to be its custodian, to ensure its maintenance and to carry out all work necessary for its conservation. Its liability can be invoked during the execution of work. It financially commits the entire co-ownership. For this reason, it must ensure that contractors working in common portions have taken out civil liability insurance.


Back to the mega-factsheet: The work of the syndicate