Buying a Montreal condo is different from buying a house, any kind of house. Before acquiring a condominium, specific legal documents need to be read, understood and signed.
Documents such as:
Becoming the owner of a condo is also being subject to specific and restrictive rules hence the importance of knowing and understanding those rules.
One is indeed an owner, while being subject to restrictive rules, hence the importance of knowing them well. With a condo, one becomes the owner of a specific part of a building, the private part as well as a share of the common parts such as stairs, balconies, entrance hall...
Mandatory document, this is what the authors call the "social contract" of the co-owners, which governs the relationship between the co-owners and the administrators of the condo.
It describes, for example, the method followed to establish the share of the charges, the famous condo fees. The authors insist that certain declarations prior to 1994 may have lapsed since the entry into force of the new Civil Code.
Annexes to the declaration, the building regulations contain the rules relating to the use of the private portions as well as the common portions, as well as those for the administration of the condo. Is the rental of your apartment possible? Can we install a satellite dish on the roof? Are "For Sale" posters on the balcony prohibited? Can I barbecue on my balcony?
On the day of signing the deed of sale, your notary will have made you think of asking the seller for a certificate of location of the coveted accommodation. But what about the common areas?
"It is up to the union to prepare a certificate of location showing all of the common parts of the building," argue the authors.
The owner of a condominium only insures the value of his personal property. It is up to the union to insure the entire building. One exception: the co-owner insures the improvements made to his home, for example if he has changed the original kitchen cabinets with something more beautiful. He must also ensure his own civil liability towards third parties, warns Me Papineau.
Does the union manage the building properly? Consulting the most recent financial statements, including the estimated budget, will give a first indication.
Are there any overdue condo fee accounts? Is the union in the red? Does the budget fail to provide money for maintenance? Or are the financial statements simply nonexistent?
Something else to do to avoid unpleasant surprises: the buyer of a condo must absolutely inquire about the balance of the contingency fund, which is used to pay for repairs and maintenance of the common parts of the building (roof, windows , balconies, etc.).
If the balance is at zero and no major repairs have been made for 15 or 20 years, you are heading for disaster.
To put all the chances on his side to get there, the future buyer should read the important documents and closely follow the management of the building, especially in the case of a small condominium - less than six units, for example. - where the occupants themselves manage the syndicate of co-ownership, the entity responsible for managing and maintaining the common parts of the building.
In larger real estate complexes, the syndicate often entrusts the tasks to management professionals.