ADMINISTRATING CONDOMINIUMS DURING A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY
While almost everything is at a standstill and people are being asked to confine themselves to their homes and avoid gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19, condominium syndicates cannot simply stop administering their buildings. Thus, they must continue to operate, to ensure the sustainability of the building while adapting their management style so as to preserve the health of the occupants. This constraint in the administration of the building raises several questions for the board of directors. The following are some recommendations to enable the board to continue operating in the best interests of the occupants:
Arrange a board meeting?
Despite the current situation, the board of directors must continue the conservation and the administration of the building. Directors may hold their meetings by conference call or videoconference. Resolutions signed by qualified administrators will have the same value as if they had been adopted at a meeting in person. To simplify the signing of resolutions during this period of health emergency and to prevent these resolutions from being invalidated due to a defect in form, it is possible to confirm your vote by email.
Organizing a meeting of co-owners?
Normally, the board of directors must convene the co-owners to a yearly meeting, at the end of the fiscal year, to discuss and deal with matters concerning the building and its administration. In general, these meetings must be held within 90 days of the end of the fiscal year.
Due to social distancing measures to be taken, it is practically impossible to hold meetings as usual, especially in large buildings with several units. For small structures, co-owners can hold this meeting via videoconference, if the declaration of co-ownership allows it or if the co-owners consent. For buildings owned by a large number of co-owners, this alternative is much more complex.
In the event that the meeting cannot be held, the board of directors must notify the co-owners of the building that a meeting will be convened as soon as the state of public health emergency is lifted. Until then, the syndicate will continue to administer the building with the same budget and the same board of directors.
If an urgent decision needs to be taken in the assembly, it would be preferable to refer to the courts, which have remained open for urgent matters. Thus, it will be possible to establish the terms of the holding of an assembly, or the safeguard measures to be taken, to avoid that decisions are taken illegally and that they are subsequently invalidated.
Electing the directors?
In principle, the directors are elected for a one year period and elections are held during the assembly of co-owners. If it cannot be held, the directors’ mandate must be continued until an election is held at a meeting. Similarly, if a director resigns, the other directors will have to fill the vacancy until the election is held.
Managing finances and budgets?
To ensure the continuity of the administration of the building, administrators must continue collecting condo fees, as usual. Without the holding of a meeting of co-owners, the budget cannot be modified. Therefore, it would not be possible to adopt a special assessment for the current fiscal year or to adopt a new budget for the next fiscal year. If an urgent situation requires an immediate call for funds, it is preferable to consult a lawyer to analyze the facts and find a solution to avoid ending up with a lack of liquidity and legal problems.
Closing common areas?
Many buildings have common rooms, swimming pools, gymnasiums, etc. During this health emergency, it would be preferable for the directors to close these facilities. Restricting access to these areas is justified by the preservation of the health of the occupants. In the current situation, to act otherwise could be considered a breach of the directors’ duty to act with prudence and diligence, in the interest of the community.
Disclosing health status?
No occupant of the building is required to disclose symptoms or health conditions to others. However, to mitigate the risk of the virus spreading throughout the building, the syndicate should invite the occupants to inform the board of directors, so that the board can take additional precautions and inform the other occupants, without disclosing the name of the infected person.
In conclusion, during this period of health emergency, it would be appropriate for the board of directors to send a press release to all the co-owners and occupants of the building to reassure them and inform them of the following:
- the continuation of the management of the building by the board of directors
- the absence of an assembly during the period of health emergency
- a continuation of terms for all directors
- a continuation of the existing budget
- the continuation of the obligation for co-owners to pay their condo fees
- a description of specific measures adopted during the state of emergency, including measures regarding the common areas
- an invitation to disclose cases of infection to the board of directors, which will ensure confidentiality
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any additional questions that may not have been covered in this article.