Life in a co-owned property like for instance, an apartment complex is subject to various constraints because it implies living continuously next to neighbours and using common areas while established co-ownership rules are not always followed by each and every co-owner. This is why condominiums have established over time, co-ownership property representatives referred to as Syndics to manage co-owners and improve their day-to-day life.
In Mauritius, the rights and obligations related to condominium, based on French law, are contained in the applicable laws and decrees known as the "règlements de copropriété"in French, previously adopted by the co-owners. These rules include: a general assembly of all the co-owners during which a designated syndic manages the common spaces and facilitate decisions taken by co-owners thus acting as an interface between them and the governing board (Conseil syndical). It is during the general assembly that co-owners have the opportunity to vote and elect the chosen syndic.
Missions of the syndic:
- Manage the condominium and take care of its maintenance; in extreme case, perform all necessary related works and repairs,
- Ensure the implementation of the resolutions voted in the general assembly,
- Establish a provisional budget, perform bookkeeping of the syndic’s accounts and individual accounts of charges and expenses,
- Collect charges and expenses of co-owners,
- Keep and archive all documents related to the condominium.
There exist two types of syndic:
- A non-professional syndic who might be one co-owner or his spouse, for instance. He is an unpaid volunteer but all the expenses that he undertakes for managing the condo are paid back to him from the condominium’s budget,
- A professional syndic is a physical person acting personally or on behalf of a company remunerated for his work.
The remuneration of a professional syndic includes:
- Contractual fees dedicated to operating expenses of the condo like for instance holding general assemblies, maintenance works which have not been voted during the general assembly.
- Specific fees for additional works off-provisional budget voted on an ad-hoc basis during the general assembly.
The contract of the syndic regulates the duration of his mandate, its effectiveness and dues dates and in case of a professional syndic, the terms and conditions of its remuneration together with its workings conditions and missions. The duration of a syndic’s mandate is for one year and can be renewed by a new election during the general assembly.
Whenever the responsibility of the syndic is engaged while performing its duties, the co-owners may:
- Inform the governing board (Conseil syndical),
- And/or not approve the accounts and refuse to vote for the final discharge offloading the syndic’s obligations towards the co-ownership property,
- And/or decide to revoke the syndic by not renewing its contract.
In case of disputes, the syndic acts as a trouble-shooter:
Owner failing to his obligations
Any co-owner who does not abide by the rules and regulations of the co-ownership (règlements de copropriété) shall be held liable. First of all, the syndic should send a formal written notice with acknowledgement of receipt to the failing co-owner. Prior to this, if the co-owner does not change his behaviour, the syndic can ask the general assembly their approval to take legal actions before a Court. To do so, he must provide a bailiff’s report proving that the rules and regulations of the condo have not been followed.
Tenant failing to his obligations
Any tenant who does not abide by the rules and regulations of the co-ownership (règlements de copropriété) shall be held liable. The first step should be to contact the co-owner/lessor so that he can remind the tenant his obligations and commitments. In case of inaction from the co-owner/lessor, the syndic can deal directly with the tenant. If the latter does not change his behaviour, the co-owner or another prejudiced tenant victim of the failing tenant’s misconduct, may bring him before the competent Court to compel him to modify his behaviour and request for action for redress.