In a recent decision of the Superior Court (1), under the presidency of the Honorable Martin Sheehan, J.S.C., the Court reiterates the validity of a co-ownership by-law providing for a ban on smoking in private units.
Indeed, in the context of a request for an injunction order under article 1080 of the Quebec Civil Code, the Court expresses itself as follows in paragraph 29 of the judgment;
« (29) These Regulations do not suffer from any ambiguity. They prohibit smoking cannabis both in the common areas and in the private areas of the building:
Ban on consuming cannabis in private areas
In this case, the evidence demonstrated that the co-owner had repeatedly contravened the Syndicate’s regulations, despite the issuance of several statements of offense and fines against him, in addition to having failed to respect an injunction order which had been issued against him in December 2021. This latter situation also earned him a conviction for contempt of court.
After concluding that the co-owner had, without any hesitation, contravened the Regulations, the Court ruled favorably on the Syndicate’s request and ordered the defendant to reimburse it the sum of $103,695 plus interest, as extrajudicial fees that syndicate had to incur in this case. See the relevant extract from the decision:
« Can the Syndicate claim its extrajudicial fees?
 The right of the Syndicate to claim its extrajudicial fees is provided for in clause 16.2.5 of the Declaration of Co-ownership:
16.2.5 Extrajudicial fees
 When the conditions are met and the fees are reasonable, the courts have not hesitated to apply this type of clause. »
By way of conclusion, we note that the courts do not hesitate to condemn certain co-owners who do not respect and who act in contempt of the law and the rules of co-ownership:
«  The obligation to respect the Declaration of Co-ownership and the regulations of the building arises both from the Declaration of Co-ownership itself and from the law. For this reason, it has already been argued that a Declaration of Co-ownership has an obligatory nature which is both contractual and statutory. »
143] As for Mr. Mokaddem, notwithstanding the accumulation of compromising evidence in this regard, he has always denied being in violation of the Cannabis Regulations. He persisted in his illegal conduct notwithstanding the numerous complaints, notices of infringement and judgments of this court.
Me Sylvain Dufresne, Lawyer
Director of Legal Affairs
Everything is becoming more complex due to the numerous new laws both in terms of the Civil Code of Quebec and in terms of municipal regulations. Since 2019, there has been more and more work, not only for boards of directors, but also for co-ownership managers. All this against a backdrop of labor shortages, inflation and all the hazards that this can cause for Quebec SMEs.
Furthermore, the reality of SMEs combined with the difficulties that co-owners may experience (rising interest rates, loss of employment, increase in condo fees due to new laws, difficulty selling their condo, etc.) is felt also in the heated interactions that some people can have with anyone working in customer service. Verbal aggression is not always easy for employees to endure, which does not help staff retention.
These changes force management companies to adapt and look for more ways to optimize the efficiency of their services and the organization of work, because the reality is that more must be done with less time, in an increasingly difficult context.
We also need to train managers, something that smaller companies struggle to do in addition to providing services to their customers. It is also to help each other in this continuing training, which managers need, that the Quebec Association of Co-ownership Managers (AQGC.org) was born in 2019.
This phase of adjustment experienced by the co-ownership sector inevitably pushes management companies towards consolidation of the industry, because it is more difficult for some of them to keep up with the frantic pace that this evolution of the industry dictates. Some companies merge with others, some sell for a well-deserved retirement, while others even close shop without warning, running out of steam.
It is therefore more important than ever to work with your manager to give him/her a context favorable to his/her success (the time to do things, the technological tools allowing teamwork and the resources required in the building: concierge, management, etc.), because the immediate challenge for all management firms is the recruitment of employees and not clients.
The business relationship must therefore be favorable, both for the manager and for the client. I therefore take you back to an article that I wrote in 2022 to allow you to mobilize your co-ownership manager and thus manage to keep him or simply find one.
One of the current challenges is certainly the level of fees, which very often do not reflect the costs of doing the work professionally and in full. There is certainly pressure in Quebec to keep management fees very low, because the profession is not professionalized… and let’s face it, it’s sometimes a bit like the “Wild West” in terms of management practices.
The fact that there is no training and no professional title required to do this job means that there are no (or few) consequences for doing the job poorly or having unprofessional practices (e.g.: not handing over documents when a management mandate is lost, not declaring conflicts of interest or related remuneration received, etc.).
These realities are harmful to the reputation of the profession, which frustrates managers who want to do things well.
AQGC managers are still waiting for the government to take a position on the issue of supervising co-ownership managers. Following a survey carried out in 2022, the managers of the AQGC themselves would like the Adm.A to be able to supervise them, since it is a professional order which advocates sound governance and which already supervises numerous co-ownership managers, who currently adhere to it voluntarily.
To force the government’s hand, the AQGC now requires, that from 2024 on, to remain a member of the association, at least one member among the shareholders of a management firm be a member of a professional order linked to management (e.g. Adm.A, CPA, Eng., É.A., CRHA, etc.). Members of the AQGC clearly prefer to be linked to a professional order that requires university studies (or an equivalent) since the profession remains complex and requires multiple skills including know-how and interpersonal skills.
A management firm that charges the right level of fees to do the work required on a building, that adequately manages its clients’ expectations, and that offers the right technological tools to its employees to work effectively as a team will succeed in making the profession attractive for employees and even that they plan to make a career there.
It is by keeping its qualified and experienced employees that a management firm will be able to train the next generation and thus build capacity in the industry to manage more buildings.
You will understand that we’ll go round and round for a long time if the management fees remain insufficient to actually carry out the expected work. Clients will always say that managers are not good enough, when in reality, managers have little chance of success since they don’t have the time to do things right or do everything that is expected of them. We must therefore realize the issue, because this is what causes staff turnover in co-ownership management companies and makes the profession less attractive.
Some people are sometimes surprised by the employee turnover rate in condominium management firms. However, tell yourself that when a management firm charges too low fees, it must have its managers manage more doors, without the help of support staff, resulting in the only solution to avoid professional burnout for an employee is… to leave his job.
Knowing the complexity of the profession and the extent of the training that management firms must give to their employees, to develop their technical skills, but also their customer management skills, it is certain that management firms which have to heart their reputation wish to resolve this issue.
In an era where condominium buildings continue to be built, are increasingly larger and have increasingly complex legal structures, there is a need to find the balance that allows the condominium management industry to develop healthily and retain their talents.
People who will retire shortly must be replaced by younger people. On the other hand, it is up to all of us to make this profession attractive and thus build the capacity to manage the co-ownership buildings of today and tomorrow.
This is important teamwork and all stakeholders (government, syndicates of co-ownership, management firms) must participate in the reflection, otherwise the shortage of co-ownership managers will continue to increase in the coming years.