Life in co-ownership is like a micro-society where disputes are omnipresent. Many conflicts are neighborhood quarrels, which are usually settled with civility. However, it happens that some disputes are fueled by co-owners thirsty for justice who will want to assert their rights in court at all costs. This is why divided co-ownership is not immune to quarrelsome litigants who multiply legal recourses to redress real or fictitious damage. They usually represent themselves alone in court. They show stubbornness and narcissism by systematically trying to have indirectly what cannot be obtained directly.
A trend towards the rental of units held in divided co-ownership has manifested itself in recent years in large urban centres as well as resort centres. Although renting a property is a recognized right for a co-owner, he must know the rules applicable in this matter. The law and the declaration of co-ownership list the obligations to which tenants and co-owners-lessors commit themselves when they sign a lease, such as compliance with the by-laws of the immovable. Some of these obligations can cause the resiliation of the lease if they are not respected!
Harassment in co-ownership can take many forms and develop in a wide variety of contexts. When occupants of a building with very different temperaments share a place to live, it happens that the spirits heat up to the point of making cohabitation impossible. A co-owner who infringes on his neighbor's privacy and interferes in his privacy can be particularly irritating and even embarrassing. If he comes to photograph him when he walks through the common portions, monitors all his comings and goings or installs a surveillance camera in the corridor pointing towards his front door, then there is an illegitimate invasion of his privacy. Such serious conduct can be considered psychological harassment, in that it seriously harms the person who is the victim.
A source of permanent controversy in co-ownership, cannabis and tobacco smoking arouse passions. However, it is recognized that there is no inalienable right for a co-owner to smoke in the common portions or in a private portion. On the contrary, the common law on abnormal neighbourhood disturbances and the effects of second-hand smoke on the health of people exposed to it advocate prohibition. In this regard, the right to life and to the safety and integrity of the person enshrined in the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms is moving towards an obligation to abstain from smoking in collective dwellings. Under the circumstances, should co-ownership syndicates banish this habit? This is not an easy question to answer. Easier said than done, some will say. And they are not wrong. Here’s a look at the whole legal issue that defines smoking in co-ownerships.
The declaration of co-ownership is a contract that orchestrates and regulates the lives of co-owners, lessees and other occupants of the immovable. It represents the guideline for everyone who lives in the immovable.The declaration of co-ownership provides, systematically, that it is up to the board of directors to have its content abided to. However, it happens that people break the rules, in particular by a non-compliant use of a private portion with regard to the destination of the immovable, a noise nuisance and work carried out in violation of the by the laws of the immovable. Other examples illustrate the problems that can occur in the co-ownership, such as an encroachment on a common portion or the improper installation of a floor covering. Anyone who does not abide to the declaration of co-ownership is liable, inter alia, to a legal recourse based on article 1080 of the Civil Code of Quebec . This action may be brought by a co-owner or the syndicate.
The Internet spawned a collaborative economy. Web sites such as Airbnb allow co-owners to rent their apartments to third parties a few days a year. This accommodation formula, intended for travelers, sometimes generates substantial income. For this reason, some owners are tempted by these easy pickings. And they believe they are entitled to do so, (wrongly in many cases) and to use their private portion as they see fit.
Many co-owners are unaware that this activity is prohibited in their building. Others are fully aware, but are unconcerned. However the incessant ins and outs of strangers brings its lot of disadvantages. Late and noisy arrivals, as well as departures at dawn are generally not compatible with the lifestyle sought by the resident-co-owners of the building. This practice can potentially have a negative impact on their safety.
The failure to pay general or special common expenses (condo fees) is one of the most contentious co-ownership’s issues. It is the duty of the board of directors of the syndicate of co-owners to collect them, unless this task has been delegated to the condo manager.
When a co-owner's contributions have been in arrears for more than three months, the law provides, ex officio, that he automatically loses his right to vote at the general meetings of the co-owners. He is also exposed to legal recourses, so that the syndicate can recover the amounts owing. A review of the options in such cases.
A bathtub or a washing machine that overflows into the apartment below, a hot water tank that conks out and spills down six floors: losses involving the civil liability of a co-owner are many co-ownerships. And they are expensive! This is why the amount of insurance premiums and deductibles have increased significantly in recent years.
Worse still, some insurers no longer want to insure co-ownerships, because of a loss ratio that has become out of control. This situation is directly related to the insurer of the syndicate, which is almost always called upon to cover a loss, when damage has been caused to the common and private portions. Thus the question of who is responsible arises. It is also necessary to know the applicable law to the owner at fault. Other considerations affect both the insurer of the syndicate and those of the co-owners concerned, to determine who will pay what?
Article 1726 paragraph 1 of the Civil Code of Quebec, provides that " The seller is bound to warrant the buyer that the property and its accessories are, at the time of the sale, free of latent defects which render it unfit for the use for which it was intended or which so diminish its usefulness that the buyer would not have bought it or paid so high a price if he had been aware of them. In other words, the latent defect prevents the buyer from enjoying, as he was entitled to expect, the property sold and its accessories. However, the purchase cannot be done blindly, as the buyer must exercise caution and diligence in the purchase process. Thus, a defect that was denounced by the seller at the time of the sale is not covered by the legal guarantee since the buyer then acquired the property knowingly. A buyer must therefore be particularly attentive to the representations and declarations of a seller, as well as to the documentation given by the latter before the sale
The law regulates the liability of contractors and building professionals for any problem related to the quality of construction work. In this regard, the legislator has provided for a specific protection regime for divided co-ownership. Section 1081 of the Civil Code of Québec recognizes the legal interest of any syndicate of co-owners to assert the rights of all co-owners to correct defects that appear, in the short or long term. This could occur during the initial construction of the building, or during work carried out several years after its erection. In short, when problems affect the common portions, the syndicate benefits from several legal warranties. Among them is the one against latent defects, design or construction defects. These warranties are worth their weight in gold, because very often, the cost of the work to be carried out in a co-ownership can be substantial.