A condominium association had to pay 22000 because of a

A condominium association had to pay $22,000 because of a hot water problem

A co-ownership association was recently ordered to pay more than $22,000 at the end of a legal battle led by two Montreal co-owners who had hot water problems at their previous residence for years before the problem was resolved.

In 2014, Erik Robitaille and Pierre Chatelain acquired shared ownership on the sixth floor of the then newly built real estate complex U31 in the Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie district. They lived peacefully in their home for three years until September 2017, when they noticed that they had to run the water for several minutes before it got hot. They then have to take lukewarm or even cold showers and also have difficulty washing their dishes, underlines a decision made on February 16 by Quebec Court Judge Catherine Pilon.

“The court would like to emphasize that there is nothing inappropriate, unlawful or extravagant [à] It is necessary to live in a place that is properly or efficiently supplied with hot water for the needs of daily life in both winter and summer,” explains the judge.

The co-owners therefore contacted their co-owners' association, which was responsible for managing the building. They initially informed them that this problem with the hot water supply was “normal in winter”. The co-owners then repeatedly requested the intervention of an expert who could find the cause of this problem with the hot water supply, but the union instead carried out some work in the couple's co-ownership, where in particular a plumber was sent. .

However, “none of these steps were successful, so the plaintiffs, through their lawyer, had to send a formal notice to the union on June 11, 2020, so that it appoints an expert to identify the person hired due to the low hot water supply.” ”takes the decision from Judge Pilon.

Design defects

Only after the co-owners had decided to take legal action did the co-ownership community finally use the services of an engineering firm. It was subsequently determined that the hot water supply problem was related to a design flaw in the common areas of the building. This problem was then resolved by the developer of the real estate project.

For their part, the co-owners, who sold their accommodation in April 2022, continued their lawsuit against the union, demanding compensation for the inconvenience they suffered during the years in which they had problems with hot water supply, as well as reimbursement of their legal costs Cost. In doing so, they relied on Article 1077 of the Civil Code of Quebec, which provides that the co-ownership syndicate “is responsible for damage caused to co-owners or third parties by reason of defects in design or construction or lack of maintenance of common areas, without prejudice to any rights of recourse.”

The Quebec court upheld a legal obligation that the union failed to comply with for several years. “It took almost four years and injunction proceedings before the union finally decided to appoint the right experts so that the problem could be identified and a solution found,” laments Judge Catherine Pilon, noting that the union “abused “acted by dragging things out.” without really taking the plaintiffs’ situation seriously.” Instead, the union should have hired an expert from the start who would have been able to find the cause of the hot water supply problem in this co-ownership association, the judge added in her eight-page decision.

“As the plaintiff Robitaille, himself a doctor, said in his statement, a diagnosis must be made before prescribing a remedy,” the judge added, according to which the co-ownership association had acted in “bad faith” in this file.

The Quebec court therefore awarded the co-owners $7,200 in compensation for the inconvenience they had experienced in their previous accommodation for several years. The court also granted the couple access to $15,280 in restitution to cover some of their legal fees for the years this legal saga dragged on.

An “extraordinary” decision

“It really shows the commitment of the co-ownership association to ensure that the rights of the co-owners are respected, including the right to full enjoyment,” notes the plaintiffs' lawyer, Philippe Gagnon-Marin, in an interview.

The latter also points out that it is “extraordinary” that the Quebec court allows the reimbursement of extrajudicial fees in cases of this type. He also points out that cases of co-owners claiming compensation for hot water problems are rare and more common in the rental market. The lawyer hopes that this decision will help raise awareness among co-ownership associations of the importance of complying with their legal obligations.

“The ruling could be a warning sign for unions that may not be sufficiently aware of their obligations,” believes Me Gagnon-Marin.

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