It should first of all be understood that the co-owner who chooses to rent his unit by signing a lease with a tenant is still bound by the provisions of the building's declaration of co-ownership, as well as the applicable provisions of the Civil Code of Quebec.
On a basic level, the declaration of co-ownership will probably contain a clause in the building bylaws regarding the conditions of enjoyment of the privative portions to the effect that he is obliged “to keep his privative portion clean, and in good condition”. Moreover, the declaration will usually contain a clause stipulating that the co-owner must abstain from doing anything which could “disturb the enjoyment of the premises by the other co-owners.” The respect of these conditions falls on the co-owner of the condo who is bound by the declaration of co-ownership and its amendments because he is an owner in title of a fraction of the building.
On the level of the co-owner's obligations towards the syndicate and the other co-owners when he chooses not to live in his unit, but rather to rent it to a tenant, the declaration of co-ownership will usually contain one or more clauses to the effect that he is obliged to ensure that the tenant respects the building bylaws, and even more so, the provisions of the constituting act portion of the declaration of co- ownership. The Québec Civil Code stipulates that the building bylaws are enforceable on the tenant or to the occupant of a fraction as soon as a copy of the bylaws or any modifications to them is provided to him by the co-owner or, failing this, by the syndicate.¹ However, the co-owner whose tenant does not respect the declaration of co-ownership to the point of rendering condo unit unclean cannot evade his responsibility by telling the syndicate to address the matter directly with the tenant, because the legal recourse is first and foremost between the syndicate and the co-owner.
The syndicate, informed about the unhealthy condition of the condo unit, possibly by the other co-owners inconvenienced by the odours and the vermin, should advise the co-owner about the situation in writing and call upon him within a stipulated delay, to do what is required vis à vis the tenant to correct the situation. This initiative could also include the fact of requiring the co-owner to prove that he gave a copy of the building bylaws to his tenant.
If the co-owner fails to correct the situation, either by refusing or neglecting to take the necessary measures, or if the tenant doesn't fully co-operate or re-offends, the syndicate can, after having given notice to the co-owner and the tenant, ask for the cancellation of the lease on the grounds that the failure of the tenant to respect his obligations is causing serious harm to another co-owner or to the syndicat.² The co-owner, who by his refusal to act, forces the syndicate to ask for the cancellation of the lease for such reasons, and this in the place of the co-owner, will likely not only see the lease cancelled, but be the object of a claim for damages by the syndicate, in particular to recover legal fees paid to its attorneys. The syndicate could also ask for compensation if the tenant causes damage to the privative or common portions of the building.
The co-owner who chooses to rent his condo to a tenant has an interest in making sure that the tenant respects the declaration of co-ownership, and that he uses the property with prudence and diligence, and that returns it to the co-owner at the end of the lease in the state in which he received it.³ When the tenant fails to respect his obligations under the terms of the lease, of the provisions of the Civil Code of Quebec, as well as the building bylaws, the co-owner-lessor must ensure that they do, and if required make use of the necessary recourses.
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