A number of difficulties can arise when one person lives in co-ownership with others. Certain problem situations can be complicated and painful, and we’re here to help!
While many questions can be answered with the help of the guides, sample letters and forms in our legal toolkit, an independent jurist affiliated with PSP Legal will always be happy to help you by answering any questions you may have.
Of course, if you prefer to have an experienced practitioner take charge of your situation and intervene directly and quickly on your behalf, you can also request that one of the independent jurists affiliated with PSP Legal represent you by clicking here.
What is divided co-ownership?
Divided co-ownership, commonly called “condominium” or “condo”, implies that one person owns a fraction of an entire building. The right of ownership is divided between the co-owners into fractions, each comprising a private portion, physically divided, and a share in the common portions of the immovable.
Divided co-ownership requires a physical division between each of the co-owners’ fractions. Private portions are for the exclusive use of the co-owner, while common portions are for the use of all co-owners. There may also be restricted common areas, such as a balcony or parking lot. Divided co-ownerships are always governed by a notarized Declaration of Co-ownership, which sets out the rules governing co-ownership.
What is a condo syndicate?
A condo syndicate is a legal entity that groups together all the co-owners of a building. As stipulated in the Civil Code of Québec, it is created when the declaration of co-ownership is published in the Land Register of Québec. Because it is made up of all the co-owners holding a fraction of the immovable, it expresses the autonomy and will of these co-owners.
As a legal entity, the syndicate has full civil rights. In particular, it can sue and be sued, and enforce its rights and obligations. It also has a name and domicile.
The syndicate’s actions are carried out by two different bodies: the board of directors and the general meeting of co-owners. The powers of these two bodies are established by law and by the published declaration of ownership which creates the syndicate itself.
The Board of Directors
The Board of Directors is made up of one or more administrators. Its powers and duties are established by the Declaration of Co-ownership and by law. It is usually responsible for the conservation and maintenance of the building. He also ensures that co-owners comply with the Declaration of Co-ownership. In practical terms, it is responsible for fulfilling the purpose of the syndicate as set out in article 1039 of the Civil Code of Québec. Initially, the syndicate is made up of a single administrator appointed by the building’s developer. When the promoter no longer holds the majority of votes at the general meeting of co-owners, a transitional meeting will appoint new directors.
General meeting of co-owners
The general meeting brings together all the co-owners. Like the Board of Directors, its powers and duties are established by the Declaration of Co-ownership and by law. The purpose of this gathering is to make decisions concerning the smooth running and continuity of the co-ownership. It must act impartially and in the interests of all co-owners. It cannot therefore make decisions that intentionally favour or disadvantage one co-owner over another.
The Civil Code of Québec sets out a number of provisions governing decision-making at general meetings, in order to protect the interests of minority co-owners. For example, certain decisions, such as amending the constituting act, require a double or reinforced majority. The law also allows any co-owner to contest an assembly decision if it contravenes the law, or if its purpose was to harm a co-owner.
Purpose of the syndicate
Article 1039 of the Civil Code of Québec sets out the precise mission of the syndicate of co-ownership. Its object is:
- The conservation of the immovable;
- Maintenance and administration of the common portions;
- Safeguarding the rights pertaining to the immovable or co-ownership;
- All operations of common interest;
- Ensuring that all work necessary for the conservation and maintenance of the building is carried out.
It is important to note that even if the syndicate is not responsible for the administration of the private portions (the portions belonging to a specific co-owner only), it must still take care of the maintenance of these portions, as it is responsible for the upkeep of the entire building.
Directors are the members of the board of directors of the syndicat de copropriété. They are appointed by co-owners at general meetings. The method of appointment is set out in the declaration of co-ownership. However, election is the most common method of appointment. Unless otherwise stipulated in the declaration of co-ownership, directors need not be co-owners.
Directors occupy a position that implies important responsibilities. It is important that they are aware of the extent of their duties. Among other things, they have a duty to:
- Act with prudence;
- Act with diligence;
- Act with honesty;
- Act with loyalty to the union;
- Act in the interests of the community of co-owners (they must not confuse their own personal assets with those of the syndicate);
- Avoid placing himself in a situation of conflict of interest;
- Enforce the Declaration of Co-ownership.
Co-owners, like the syndicate and directors, have rights and obligations as members of a community of co-owners.
Obligations of co-owners
All co-owners must, among other things
- Pay contributions to common expenses
- Comply with the Declaration of Co-ownership
- Take out individual insurance on his fraction of co-ownership.
Failure to do so may result in loss of rights. For example, if a co-owner fails to pay his contributions to the common expenses for a period of more than three months, he automatically loses his vote at the co-owners’ meeting. However, he may regain his right to vote if he repays his default in full.
Rights of co-owners
Every co-owner has the right to, among other things;
- Vote at a co-owners’ meeting
- To be informed of the financial results of the syndicate, and to be consulted on the syndicate’s new annual budget.
- Take action against another co-owner (e.g., by requesting an injunction) if he or she fails to comply with the co-ownership by-laws.
- Rent out your part of the condominium
- Enjoy the common and private portions of the immovable as long as he acts in accordance with the by-laws. Any restriction to this right must be justified by the destination of the immovable.
When a co-owner feels that his rights are being infringed, he has the right to resort to mediation to settle a dispute with another co-owner or with the syndicate. If the declaration of co-ownership so provides, he may also resort to arbitration.
How we can help
Our legal toolkit includes a variety of online resources and links to templates and guides to help you better understand your obligations.
However, should the Legal Toolkit prove insufficient in your situation, you can obtain additional assistance by speaking with one of PSP Legal’s affiliated jurists:
Of course, if you prefer to have an experienced practitioner handle your situation, you can always request that one of the independent jurists affiliated with PSP Legal intervene on your behalf by clicking here. He or she will then be able to intervene directly and rapidly on your behalf by:
- Preparing, negotiating and drafting applications, procedures or any other legal documents related to your situation;
- Assisting and advising you on your legal rights and obligations;
- Representing you before the courts when legal action is taken;
- Guiding you through the choices available to you, leading to a fair and satisfactory solution.
PSP Legal, because you deserve expert advice!
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