What can I do if mine stops responding?
Reader Question: We own an apartment in a building and one of the other owners used to manage the syndicate. However, she has now disappeared and does not answer calls or emails. We need to find the contact details of our trustee and have urgent work done. How can we progress from here?
Several avenues are available to you to resolve your situation, but first we explain what a trustee is and the role he must play in a shared apartment building.
What is a syndicate ?
In France, buildings divided into apartments are the co-ownership of individual owners under the condominium system.
A condominium includes individual private areas, ie. personal apartments and common areas such as hallways, elevators, gardens and even garbage cans.
the syndicate of co-owners is a technical term designating all the owners, who hold an annual meeting called general assembly (or AG) co-owners. It has its own legal status, similar to a company, and makes decisions relating to the management of the building.
The trustee is an organisation, in most cases a commercial enterprise but in this case an apartment owner, which acts as the legal representative of the syndicate of co-ownersand who manages the daily operation of the common areas, cleaning, maintenance and emptying of garbage cans among others.
The company or the person acts on decisions taken at the GA and sends quarterly invoices fundraising.
the union council – elected from among the owners at the AGM – assists the trustee and checks that he is doing his job properly.
the AG of co-owners meets to vote on the accounts for the past year, the budget for the coming year, any new repair or improvement work on the common areas, and to constitute a reserve works fund.
The latter is a compulsory fund that owners have had to pay as part of their charges since 2017, intended to help pay for major work that will become necessary in the future. The goal is to avoid unexpected large bills all at once.
What can you do if your trustee no longer responds to you?
Use the extranet
If your trustee is no longer responding to emails, texts or calls, another thing you can try is to send a message through the extranet portal that they should have set up for your syndicate of co-owners.
This online platform should contain all the documents relating to the co-ownership and as owners you should be able to access it.
If you are able to message your trustee via this extranet, you can take screenshots of the communication as proof that you tried to contact them in different ways.
However, if they haven’t responded to other forms of communication, this may not prove to be very helpful.
Letters with acknowledgment of receipt
Another way to encourage your trustee to read your messages is to send a letter with acknowledgment of receipt (acknowledgment of receipt) formally detailing your requests or concerns.
This will force the trustee to demonstrate that he knows you are trying to contact him. This will also serve as evidence of repeated contact attempts if further action is needed against the organization or individual.
Get closer to your union council
Ask your union councilwho coordinates communications between the trustee and the owners he represents.
It is likely that other owners in the building are also experiencing the same problem, and you can find out if this is the case or not by asking your union councilwho may also be able to take some action to resolve the issue.
If you do not yet have the coordinates of this advicethey can be displayed on the municipal notice boards in your building, on the extranet or on the minutes of your last GA (which will be attached to your deed of purchase if you have just moved in).
Of course, if you know who the members of the advice are and you are in your apartment, you can also visit them in person.
Use the services of a mediator
Your trustee must have entered the contact details of a mediator on the contract he signed with your co-ownership and/or on the extranet portal.
You can also find a list of mediators on the Commission for the evaluation and control of consumer mediation website under the heading Real estate (real estate).
Discuss your problem at the next GA
If possible, you can also wait for the next general meeting of co-owners (AG) to discuss your issue, but you should send your question or request to the trustee well in advance of the meeting, and if they don’t get back to you, it may not be very straightforward.
Initiate proceedings against your trustee
If your trustee neglects his responsibilities, your condominium can vote at an GA to sue them and choose a new organization or individual to act as trustee.
A trustee is appointed for a period of three years but it is possible to terminate his contract early if he has seriously failed in his responsibilities, which may go as far as failure to respond to you.
The replacement action must be included in advance on the agenda of the AG, and several different trustees must offer their services so that the owners can choose between their offers.
If the end of the three-year contract approaches within the next three months, their engagement can be terminated immediately and new contracts offered.
Who is responsible for paying for work in the common areas?