A building Syndic isn’t some scary beast that lives in your basement - although it does sound like something straight out of Monsters Inc. Bare with us, whilst we explain…
If you own an apartment, you’ll almost certainly have spaces that you share with your neighbours - likely corridors, car parks, caves, ski lockers and more. In France, these shared spaces are not owned by any one person in the building. They’re owned by a copropriété. This is a term for a collective of people who own private space in the building or land surrounding it. Each private owner then owns a percentage of the communal areas, governed by how much private space they each own. In other words, yes it’s incredibly complicated!
Logically, these areas have to be taken care of. They have to be cleaned, maintained, and all the owners have to collectively agree on the course of action, money spent etc. This is something that can be very tricky for people to agree on and as you can imagine, left to their own devices, property buildings would go round and round in circles trying to decide how much to spend on hoovering each month!
So… to manage these complications efficiently, in almost all cases a Syndic is appointed. The Syndic of co-ownership is a physical or legal person in charge of representing the syndicate of co-ownership (copropriété) and administering the common parts of a co-ownership.
And it’s just as easy as that?
Well no, not really. Of course, the Syndic has some important steps they must follow in order to be productive and efficient.
These steps are as follows:
They set an annual budget, based on what needs to be taken care of;
They negotiate the contracts to take care of these areas;
They take out insurance for the areas, and;
They set the rules for these areas. Rules may include being able to leave your shoes outside your front door or painting your front door for example.
They also hold annual meetings, known as an Assemblé Générale, to arrange votes on anything that may affect the communal areas. If as a private owner, you want to do anything that would affect the common areas, you would have to present it at the Assemblé Générale to be voted on. The same goes for repairs, if there are things that need to be fixed in the communal areas which would cost more than an agreed budget that the Syndic can validate without approval, it will be presented for a vote. These annual meetings also include reviewing the budget for the previous and following year to ensure that it’s as spot-on as possible. There’s one last important thing to note at these meetings - that you’ll vote on a representative, or two, who are supposed to be the voice of the copropriété for the Syndic.
How does all this work money-wise?
The Syndic will first open a bank account in the name of the coproprieté and will calculate how much each private owner should contribute to the annual budget. This is calculated based on the percentage of the copropriété they own, which will be stated on the notary documents from the time of purchase.
The budget is typically requested quarterly (don’t be scared the first time you get it - the document can be super complicated!). We’ve included an example with annotations below so you can get familiar with the layout…
As with any other utility bill, you can set this payment up as a direct debit to simplify your life!
We hope you’ve learnt a little more about how apartment buildings, copropriété and Syndics work. Just remember, they are there to help you, even when it feels complicated and a little convoluted at times! They love rules, and you just have to follow them to reap the benefits (this is of course quite typical and a general rule of thumb for all French administrations).