Your rights as an owner depend on whether you buy a single-family home, a condo, an undivided co-ownership or an income property. For example, there might be some restrictions on your right to renovate. This article has useful information to help with your decision.
Most first-time buyers in Quebec opt for a single-family home, such as a fully detached house, a semi-detached house or a townhouse.
A single-family home provides most flexibility for owners, and you can carry out almost any renovations you want.
But there are certain restrictions on what you can do, as is the case with other kinds of homes. Here are a few of the restrictions:
Public law restrictions
There are limits on the renovations you can carry out if the Ministère de la Culture et des Communication (ministry of culture and communications) has designated your home as a heritage property.
You can’t turn your home into a business if the municipal zoning doesn’t allow this.
“Servitudes” on the property (You must respect them even if the former owners agreed to them.)
You can’t install a swimming pool underneath Hydro-Québec power lines.
For more information on these restrictions, refer to the certificate of location.
Condo (divided co-ownership)
When you buy a condo, you own:
- A “private portion,” which is your own unit where you can do what you want (including renovations), as long as you follow the condo rules.
- A share of the “common portions,” such as the building entrance, hallways and common room. Decisions about the common portions must be taken with the other co-owners.
For more information, you can visit the website Lacopropriété.info (French only). You can also refer to the illustrated article on the purchase and sale of a condominium on the website of the Chambre des notaires du Québec (notaries’ association).
Undivided co-ownership exists when more than one person owns the same home. No legal transaction is required. For example, undivided co-ownership can be formed from an inheritance.
In an undivided co-ownership, each co-owner has a share over the entire property. There is no “private portion” like in a condo. In other words, everybody has the same rights to all parts of the property.
If you choose this option, it’s a good idea to decide on the co-ownership rules with the other co-owners. Here are some examples of co-ownership rules you can agree on:
- If a co-owner wants to sell their share, they must offer their share to the other co-owners before offering it to other people.
- If a co-owner dies, that person’s share goes to the other co-owners.
- One owner has exclusive access to a floor, but decisions concerning the renovation or sale of the property must be made with the other co-owners.
This type of agreement is called an indivision agreement. Without one, the general rules provided in the law apply. For example, the law presumes that all the co-owners own the property in equal shares, even if your down payments and mortgage payments are unequal. This also implies that all rental income from the property will be shared equally, including profits from the sale of the property. A notary or lawyer can provide advice and help you draw up an indivision agreement.
To learn more, refer to the illustrated article on the purchase and sale of property held in undivided co-ownership on the website of the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
A duplex, triplex, quadruplex and multiplex fall under the category of income property if all or part of the property is rented.
As in the case of a single-family home, if there is only one owner of the income property, that owner has a lot of flexibility. If you buy an income property you must, however, respect the leases with the renters, even if the former owner is the one who signed the leases.