How do you prevent your condo from putting you on the street?

How to prevent your condo from putting you on the street?

UPGRADE DAY

There are more and more stories of condos in such poor condition that their owners are practically on the street. How to avoid these tragedies? We give you advice. 

You want to avoid finding yourself like the 48 co-owners of Saint-Jérôme, whose poorly built condos 30 years ago are in such a state that they will soon find themselves on the street, without any recourse; a story we published yesterday. Renovations to the three 16-unit buildings would cost $4.2 million, or $262,000 per unit. As construction defects are not covered by insurers, the co-owners will have to continue paying their mortgage and relocate elsewhere. In the midst of a housing crisis.

Should they sue the directors of their condominium association? When you don't have the means to save your building, you can hardly afford lawyers in a case of negligence to seize co-owners who have also lost everything.

Who is really responsible for such a mess, which is happening everywhere in Quebec? “Ultimately, it is the Quebec government that should pay,” comments Yves Joli-Coeur, lawyer and trainer specializing in co-ownership. The various PQ, Liberal and CAQ governments have done nothing to control the quality of construction, often claiming that it would cost too much and that it would delay construction. Meanwhile, Ontario requires systematic construction quality inspections and mandatory training for condominium administrators. Here, Quebec does nothing.

Several bills on these issues died on the order paper. And Quebec has been delaying the implementation of Bill 16 on the maintenance plan and the study of the contingency fund for two years. Why?

In Quebec, successive housing ministers live in denial of reality. One morning, the State will have to advance billions to save the condominium from sinking, as is the case in France.

ADVICE

    < li>Are you inheriting a new condo building from the developer, or have you just bought an apartment in an existing building? Demand that your syndicate carry out a rigorous analysis of the quality of construction, carried out by an architect for the building envelope, and by an engineer for the systems (structural, mechanical, plumbing). Even if the building is new. No matter its size. Because the guarantee plan is not an absolute protection (including the GCR guarantee for buildings of 4 units or less): inspections on construction sites, in Quebec, are a joke.
  • Expect to pay a special assessment of a few hundred dollars per co-owner to cover the bills for these studies, which must be completed within six months.
  • Have an annual maintenance log for the building made, with work planned for the next five or ten years, depending on the age of the building, also covering its deficiencies. Is the roof really waterproof? Are the windows properly caulked? Are there weepholes at the bottom of the walls?
  • Have an estimate drawn up by an architect. The latter has liability insurance and is familiar with issues relating to building envelopes. Don't just collect quotes from contractors.
  • Have a contingency fund study done, along with the construction quality study and the maintenance log. Most buildings have insufficient funds to carry out expensive work to be done in the next few years. Expect to increase that of your building, especially if the architect or engineer finds a maintenance deficit. Some co-owners want to save money by neglecting maintenance: they are caught up by insurers, who charge them more after their own inspection. Some refuse to insure them or impose expensive urgent work…
  • Ask that the administrators of your syndicate take courses with the Regroupement des managers et copropriétaires du Québec (RCGQ). The co-owners must also inform themselves. Three essential sources: Condolegal.com • RCGQ.org • garantie.gouv.qc.ca. To find a good building manager, ask condo managers in the area, because there is no law regulating this question. Another government shortcoming…