It is known that most co-ownership properties suffer from an inherent lack of maintenance. This flagrant lack of interest for the maintenance of co-ownership buildings compromises the resale value of condo units. Poor management of the safekeeping of spare keys of a building’s condo units is a precise and real example that indicates the scope of the problem that is ongoing in Quebec. This article aims at raising co-owners’ awareness and helping them identify possible solutions to better protect their investments.
Safekeeping of spare keys, why?
Water damages are very common in co-ownership. Whether it is a hot water heater nearing the end of its lifespan, discharging all its contents, or simply a defective shower head, when water runs out of control in a condo building damages are rarely of a minor nature. The consequences can be devastating for buildings comprising units spread out on many floors. Water damages are expensive, at times for a long period of time, particularly in insurance premiums and deductibles, over and above the stress and the disarray that follow the discovery of the damages. The solution to limit the cost of any loss caused by water damage is quick intervention to neutralize the source of the problem. How to intervene when the syndicate does not have access to the spare keys of the condo units of the building? Obviously, kicking down a few entrance doors to identify the precise location of the water source is not a possible solution. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix, a spare key is always necessary, it is essential to effectively manage any emergency situation in a co-ownership building.
The source of the problem
One would think that a co-owner’s decision to leave a spare key of his private portion to the management of a building should be easy, even banal. It is not that simple. We found that certain co-owners are reluctant to provide a spare key. The most common reasons given are that «they don’t feel it’s their home anymore» or that «they fear that someone may enter their unit without prior consent». On the other hand, it must be noted that a majority of professional building managers are rarely present in the buildings they manage; under these circumstances, even with a spare key, an absent building manager would not be able to intervene quickly. No matter the reasons invoked, good or bad, it seems that conscientious co-owners, despite themselves, often without their knowledge, pay heavy additional fees for others. Rather unfair, would you say?
The obligation to conform
The obligation to leave a spare key to administration for emergency situations is provided in most of the declarations of co-ownership. In fact, there are very few buildings where this is not required. You may wonder then, why is there hardly any spare key safekeeping? This is a difficult question to answer but one fact is clear, the declaration of co-ownership must be applied by the directors (or the professional building manager, whatever the case may be) and it can only be modified by the assembly of co-owners of the building. The arbitrary application of the declaration of co-ownership is a sign of poor management. If this is the case in your co-ownership, consider this as a signal that you should invest yourself more in the business of the syndicate. If you do not get involved, deficient management of the co-ownership will force you to dig deeper and deeper in your pocket more and more often. In the medium term, the resale price of your condo unit will never reach its full value.
The unpopularity of spare key safekeeping of the private portions of buildings indicates a casual attitude toward the management of co-ownership buildings. Well managed and secure safekeeping of spare keys is a sign of healthy management especially for large co-ownerships.