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COVID-19 and co-ownerships: A window of opportunity for remote general meetings of co-owners

Assemblées à distance en copropriété

Montreal, April 27, 2020 - The government approves remote general meetings of co-owners. Order 2020-029, signed yesterday by the Minister of Health and Social Services, Danielle McCann, now allows general meetings to be held "using a means that enables all members to communicate with each other immediately." The RGCQ had made this request and at least one syndicate of co-owners had gone to Court to obtain this right in order to settle an urgent matter.

A lifeline for co-ownerships facing emergencies

Life in a co-ownership requires collective decision-making. This was undermined by the current health crisis. The declarations of co-ownership and the Civil Code of Quebec are silent on matters regarding remote general meetings. This paralyzed syndicates of co-owners throughout the province.

In most cases, the annual general meetings could easily be postponed. The directors remained in office and the budgets were renewed until the conditions allowed syndicates to convene a general meeting. However, certain situations require a general meeting in a very short amount of time. Sometimes, the survival of the building is at stake.

For instance, special contributions must be presented at the general meeting. They may be essential in the event of an insurance claim to pay for the syndicate’s deductible, or to initiate urgent and unforeseen work. There are no solutions to avoid going through the process of a general meeting. Allowing remote general meetings will be a lifeline for co-ownerships in these situations.

New tools to master

However, everything relating to remote general meetings in co-ownerships needs to be invented. This adaptation implies an additional workload for administrators who are often volunteers and are already highly solicited by the current health crisis.

To support them, the RGCQ published a practical guide. Available online, it presents the organization's recommendations and guidelines to ensure the smooth running of these meetings. For the time being, it is recommended to hold only urgent and essential meetings.

“Since the beginning of the crisis, condominiums have been sailing by sight,” says Laurent Emery, General Manager of the RGCQ. “The directors and managers are doing remarkable work on site. They relay government instructions and do their best to keep their co-owners healthy. They must learn to manage new tools, new situations, in addition to their personal situations. It is for this reason that we recommend dealing only with urgent matters in remote general meetings."

It will be interesting to see how syndicates will organize themselves during this period and whether this breakthrough will be pursued once the health crisis is over. In the near future, we may see hybrid general meetings where some co-owners will be physically present while others will participate remotely.

Download the document by clicking here