The syndicate has the legal obligation to safeguard the immovable, concerning work in common and private portions. Such work includes minor or major repairs, and urgent interventions, when the conservation of the built-up patrimony is affected by a fortuitous event. In such occurrences, article 1066 of the Civil Code of Québec provides that no co-owner may interfere with carrying out, even inside his private portion work required for the preservation and which is necessary to maintain the immovable in a good state of repairs.
Works necessary for the preservation of the immovable
The good state of repairs of a co-ownership also requires the syndicate to carry out periodic maintenance. It must initiate the work required to repair and replace the various components of the immovable. Other more important work concerns (more often than not) the alteration, the enlargement and the improvement of common portions. This type of work must be decided upon by the general meeting of the co-owners, in accordance with articles 1097 or 1098 of the Civil Code of Québec. Such work includes, for example, the widening of the load bearing columns, or the installation of an automatic sprinkler system in all common and private portions.
Urgent work may need to be carried out in a co-ownership. What is the meaning of “urgent”? The Civil Code of Québec does not define urgency. Practically, it is a situation likely to cause serious or irreparable harm to the immovable. Urgent work must be undertaken as soon as possible, to ensure the safeguard of property, such as in the event of water damage or of a fire. In short, there is an urgent need to act when the safety of property and people, the solidity and hygienic state of the immovable are at stake.
Negligence of a co-owner to see to the maintenance of his private portion
Almost every declaration of co-ownership provides as follows: if a co-owner neglects to carry out necessary work in his privative portion, the syndicate can carry it on its behalf. On this issue, article 1039 of the Civil Code of Quebec was amended by Bill 16. Speaking of the community of co-owners, and by extension of the syndicate of co-owners, an addition at the end of the first paragraph of this article reads as follows: " The legal person must, in particular, see to it that the work necessary for the preservation and maintenance of the immovable is carried out."
And if such negligence causes damage to other co-owners, he may engage his civil liability. In such cases, the work undertaken by the syndicate may be at its expense.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ! The Law requires the syndicate to take all useful and necessary measures to ensure the sustainability of the immovable. This obligation ultimately extends to private portions.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND : Article 1077 of the Civil Code of Quebec provides that the syndicate is liable for damage caused to the co-owners or third persons in the case of faulty design or construction defects of the immovable, or caused by a lack of maintenance of the common portions, This explains why, in some cases, the syndicate must have access to private portions, so that the necessary work can be carried out. It will thus limit its civil liability.
WARNING ! If a co-owner insists on preventing access to his private portion, when work needs to be executed, the syndicate may request a court order to compel him accordingly. It could even require that the co-owner be ordered to pay damages, to offset an increase in the cost of the work, which can occur if it is delayed.