1706611607 Devastating behavior To pay 7 million condemns –

“Devastating behavior” | To pay 7 million | condemns –

The co-owner of a 119-unit building in Montreal was struck by an “unsatisfied lust for power” and hatched a plan with his brother to steal from about twenty of his co-owners, most of them young immigrants, by harassing and spying on them, humiliates them and legally exhausts them.

Published at 12:57 am. Updated at 05:00.


In a verdict of rare severity, the Quebec Superior Court has just ordered Maher Balabanian and his brother Jean Balabanian to pay almost 5.9 million in compensatory and punitive damages, as well as 1.3 million in interest, to around twenty co-owners of the undivided building, located in 10 355, Avenue du Bois-de-Boulogne, in the district of Ahuntsic-Cartierville.

  • Maher Balabanian

    Screenshot of the video submitted as evidence

    Maher Balabanian

  • Jean Balabanian

    Screenshot of the video submitted as evidence

    Jean Balabanian


The court also ordered the seizure and immediate sale of the building, which was worth more than $13 million despite serious maintenance deficiencies, to prevent those sums from being stolen by the “devastating conduct” of Maher Balabanian, a man that was called “life” is wasted becoming “stewards” of the building.

The case, which required more than five and a half years of legal proceedings, is the result of the bitter battle of a lawyer, Me Vincent Ranger, who agreed to represent the victims pro bono after being contacted by the Mile Legal Clinic End August 2018.

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Attorney Vincent Ranger agreed to represent the Balabanian brothers' victims on a pro bono basis.

On a human level it was a catastrophic case, but on a legal level it was complex.

I Vincent Ranger

Since 2018, the lawyer has been shouted at by Jean Balabanian, who calls him a criminal and follows him on the street to intimidate him. The windows of his apartment were even broken three times by hammer blows and brick throwing by unknown persons, incidents that were mentioned in court but which the police did not link to the case.

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“I went through a rollercoaster of emotions. But as a human being, I couldn't let it go. I was embarrassed by Quebec,” says the lawyer, who has a law firm specializing in legal remedies.

The “Balaban Method”

The building, a huge brick and concrete block very close to the Bois-de-Boulogne University, has belonged to the Balabanian family since the 1980s. In 2008, Maher Balabanian, who inherited it, began selling apartments in the form of individual co-ownership. With this legal form of co-ownership, all apartments have the same land register, but their use is regulated by a co-ownership agreement.

It is generally difficult to get a loan from a bank to buy a house in undivided buildings, but Maher Balabanian financed the purchase by providing mortgage loans to the buyers themselves.

The three and a half and four and a half units were sold at an attractive price, “with the promise of a good capital investment through the promise of a quick conversion of the joint ownership into shared properties,” the judgment says.

However, Maher Balabanian's promise was never kept. “In this co-ownership he concentrates power in his hands. » He calls himself sole manager “for life”, but above all “he minimizes his financial contributions to the co-ownership community”, explains the judgment. Although he owns almost 80% of the building, his share of the fixed co-ownership costs (used to pay insurance and maintenance costs) is identical to that of a co-owner for three and a half years.

As soon as a co-owner asks questions, the “Balaban machine” starts, summarizes Me Ranger. “Any financial question triggers anger in Mr. Balabanian. »

“There are frivolous fines being imposed, mortgages being cancelled; Residents of the unit are being harassed; and the legal wrath is directed against the co-owner. There is only one possible purpose left, which is to sell your shares at a discount. [à Maher Balabanian] through the loss of a good part of the invested capital,” summarizes the judgment.

One of the co-owners, Julie Boucher, gave Maher Balabanian a nickname: “The Pharaoh.”

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Julie Boucher

It is difficult to imagine that such a creature exists. He's just mean. It's as if he was trying to create some kind of hegemony in the building.

Julie Boucher

Maher Balabanian did not respond to our interview request.

Fine for riding a bike too fast

Another co-owner, Andrew Jensson, who bought an apartment in 2012, quickly became a scapegoat for Maher Balabanian. In particular, the latter fined him $6,500 for… riding his bike too fast in the garage.

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Andrew Jensson

He also gave me parking tickets and tickets for holding the elevator doors open.

Andrew Jensson

Mr Jensson naturally wanted to challenge the fines, but under the terms of the co-ownership agreement he was forced to appoint an arbitrator to obtain an award to resolve the issue.

“The first award cost me $20,000,” explains Mr. Jensson.

During this time, Maher Balabanian used the pool of co-ownership fees for the building to pay his legal fees. He also used every opportunity to extend the deadlines. “In one of the cases, at the beginning of the arbitration hearing, he requested that the arbitrator be rejected. It was delayed [le processus] It took several months and incurred significant costs,” adds Mr Jenssson.

“What a waste of judicial resources,” concludes Judge Perreault, referring to the “real torture” experienced by a co-owner who simply wanted to have an Internet connection installed in his mother’s house. To this end, Maher Balabanian first asked him to send him a formal notice, to which he did not respond, thereby initiating arbitration proceedings. Mr. Balabanian then demanded that the verdict be confirmed by a judge. And even he refused to comply, forcing a judicial review of the ruling that “was accompanied by delaying tactics,” the judge points out.

Me Ranger estimates that the case cost Mr. Balabanian more than $100,000 a year in legal fees between 2018 and 2021.

For its part, the court notes that Maher Balabanian has initiated 165 separate legal cases since 1986. “ [Il] uses the justice system not to seek justice, but as a tool to oppress others, and he uses the process as an outlet and tool for revenge,” the judge noted.

Called a “whore” in front of her daughter

However, if Maher Balabanian has an “insatiable hunger for power,” it is his brother Jean, the building's manager, who does the building's dirty work.

Jean Balabanian, an angry man, lied to La Presse when she showed up at the building to talk to Maher on Monday. After initially vowing that he was not Jean Balabanian, he quickly unleashed all of his anger on Mr. Ranger, whom he loudly accused of trying to murder him five times since he took over the case.

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The Supreme Court ruling emphasizes that Jean Balabanian “yells and follows anyone in public areas.” “He spies on the doors” and “uses a camera system” to harass the other co-owners. “Jean Balabanian claims to have the authority to give orders to the co-owners” and to control access to the building, the court emphasizes.

“Jean called me a whore in front of my daughter,” says Julie Boucher, who also experienced hell in the building. “She was afraid to leave the house, she was shaking. »

Prisoners of the building

“You are prisoners of the building. They must maintain a co-ownership apartment against their will or, worse, live there in unacceptable conditions,” Judge Perreault said.

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According to a construction expert, the building where the Balabanian brothers worked was in poor general condition.

The decision refers to the report of a building expert who concluded that the general condition of “its most important components” was poor. The document states that abundant mold was found “in stairwells, affected units, hallways and parking lots.”

“For the health of residents and the safety of the building, it is urgent to carry out corrective measures on the roof and decontaminate the accommodation,” the expert concludes.

According to Judge Perreault, the ruse is simple: When a co-owner, at the end of his patience, decides to sell, Mr. Balabanian “takes back the unit but cancels the deposit paid by the owner.” “All of the buybacks were at a price below normal “The selling price was,” it says in the judgment.

In other cases, the co-owners have no opportunity to sell to third parties because Maher Balabanian “does not pay the taxes and insurance of the co-ownership,” the judge adds.

Hegemony and its Achilles heel

The “autocratic behavior” of the Balabanian brothers described in the verdict was completely uninhibited, says Julie Boucher.

They enjoy feeling powerful.

Julie Boucher talks about the Balabanian brothers

Audio and video recordings of Maher Balabanian submitted as evidence evoke strange references to God: “For a dollar, I'm willing to screw all the co-owners and their gods,” he said in particular during a telephone conversation with one of the co-owners. Owner.

“I do it, it's not for the money; it is revenge. It makes me feel good because I'm getting revenge,” he told her at another point.

Several other documents show that the Balabanian brothers harbored a compulsive anger against attorney Vincent Ranger, who fought them in court until they won their case. Jean Balabanian became agitated during our meeting on Monday, claiming his volunteerism was “criminal.” “He is the biggest liar in the history of Quebec,” he thundered.

Judge Perreault sees things differently, emphasizing that the pro bono nature of their mandate was “the Achilles heel in the subterfuge” of the two brothers.

The peculiarities of undivided joint ownership

Being a co-owner of an undivided condominium is different from being a co-owner of a shared condominium (condominium). With undivided co-ownership, all co-owners are jointly and severally liable for the property. This responsibility is shared equally unless a co-ownership agreement is signed, as is the case with Maher Balabanian. This agreement regulates “the functioning and administration of the co-ownership community. It establishes the rights of all owners and allows the management of the exclusive usage rights assigned to each of them,” explains the Organisme d'autoréglementation du courtageimmobilier du Québec (OACIQ) online.

Another special feature of co-ownership concerns the resale of a co-ownership share. In fact, in the event of a sale by one of the co-owners, the others have priority over a potential buyer, according to the OACIQ. The undivided co-owners are predominantly apartment buildings that are purchased by a few co-owners. Or they are successor cases.

Lila Dussault, La Presse