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When will managers be professionalized?

Legal column

When the Civil Code of Québec was reformed in 1994, the legislator introduced into our law a new concept directly inspired by French law, a “syndicate of co-owners,” with a juridical personality.

This entity was then entrusted with the main tasks of maintaining and preserving the building, administering the common areas, and safeguarding the rights relating to the building and the co-ownership.

Unlike France, however, Quebec did not choose to also introduce the function of trustee into our legal system. Instead, it opted for a corporate model and divided the decision-making powers of the syndicate between two components: a board of directors, whose members are considered agents of the syndicate and are called upon to manage its affairs on an ongoing basis, and a general meeting of the co-owners which meets at least once a year, but which does not have extensive powers, contrary to what prevails in France.

However, our legislator has provided for the possibility for the members of the board of directors to lighten their workload to a greater or lesser extent by delegating the day-to-day administration of the syndicate to an agent, who may or may not be chosen among the co-owners. It should be noted, on the one hand, that entrusting certain administrative tasks to an agent does not in any way reduce the responsibility of the administrators. On the other hand, section 1085 of the Civil Code of Québec specifies that the manager acts as an administrator of the property of others charged with simple administration, without providing further details.

Yet, after more than 25 years, one must admit that a veil of ambiguity persists around this notion of “agent” and that the vast majority of co-owners and administrators use the term “manager,” when it comes to hiring the services of a person or a real estate management company. Beyond the semantics, it is also necessary to recognize that important deficiencies exist, from a general point of view, among these service providers, whereas the protection of the public living in condominiums would require the injection of a dose of professionalism.