The syndicate’s right of access to a private portion must be exercised reasonably. Work to be undertaken by the latter, even when justified, requires that the occupants of the apartment be notified before the work starts. Thus, it will be necessary to warn them in advance so that they can prepare. In all cases, the syndicate will generally have to respect delays that may differ depending on whether the occupant is a co-owner or a tenant
Although the law is mute thereon, the syndicate should give co-owners a written prior notice providing for a reasonable period of time before carrying out work requiring access to a private portion, except in urgent cases related to the safety or preservation of property. Generally, declarations of co-ownership provide that the members of the board of directors, the agents, employees and contractors of the syndicate have free access to private portions at all reasonable times for the purposes permitted by the declaration of co-ownership, with the understanding, however, that such access must be preceded by a notice of at least twenty-four (24) hours, except in cases of emergency.
The notice must be sufficiently detailed so that the co-owner knows what to expect regarding the inconvenience he may suffer. Essentially, the occupant must be informed of the nature and duration of the work. In the event of a dispute, the determination of the reasonableness of the proposed delay will be left to the discretion of the court.
When work is to be carried out at the initiative of the syndicate, and access is required to a leased private portion, the Civil Code of Québec makes a correlation between divided co-ownership and leasing an apartment. Under article 1066 of the Civil Code of Québec, the syndicate is required to provide the lessee with the notices required by articles 1922 and 1931 of the Code, related to major repairs or work in a private portion.
Essentially, these are notices that the landlord must give the lessee in the case of major improvement or repairs. This clarification is intended to prevent a tenant from opposing work under the pretext that he has not received a notice. Thus, the syndicate has the obligation to inform the tenant, at least 24 hours before the work commences, that it intends to carry out work in the dwelling. However, if work is urgent and necessary (e.g. water damage caused by a ruptured pipe), it can be performed immediately without the need to notify the tenant. The law also states that it is not possible to carry out major improvements or non-urgent repairs in the dwelling without the tenant having been notified at least 10 days beforehand and, if the temporary evacuation the tenant is required, without the latter having been offered an reasonable indemnity covering his expenses.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ! If urgent work needs to be carried out in a private portion, such as in the case of a leaking pipe, or of a defective electrical system causing a fire hazard, the syndicate can have it carried right away without prior notice.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND : A co-owner-lessor must, on a compulsory basis, transmit the names and address of each tenant to the directors. This information will be recorded in the register of the co-ownership. It is possible to adopt a by-law to enforce this obligation. Thus, the board of directors will have the information available.
WARNING ! Good faith is a fundamental civil law requirement. Therefore, the right of access to a private portion by the syndicate must be exercised carefully. Article 7 of the Civil Code of Québec provides that "No right may be exercised with the intent of injuring another or in an excessive and unreasonable manner, and therefore contrary to the requirements of good faith. "