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Strata Mondays #1: Bare Land Stratas

bareland-strata

Inspired by my most recent First-Time-Buyer Friday post, I have decided to dedicate a new tag on this blog to covering strata issues. So, without further ado, we have the first weekly, but much less alliterative, Strata Mondays.

Q. When searching Realtor.ca the other day, I saw a property listed as a bare land strata. What’s that all about?

A bare land strata is a type of strata corporation where instead of a large building being divided up into strata lots (condos or townhouses) to facilitate individual ownership of the units, a large tract of land is divided up into strata lots. In this case, the strata lot is quite literally, a vacant lot.

Bare land stratas are quite common in semi-rural areas where all lots in a subdivision will share a common sewage treatment system, allowing the developer to subdivide the large tract into smaller lots this is because by sharing, each individual house does not need to have its own septic field, which takes up considerable amounts of room. Often, this is the sole reason for the strata, and as such, fees are generally very low, covering only things like maintenance and operation of the septic system, and insurance for the common property.

Common property, which is shared proportionally by all owners in the strata, is usually the septic field and/or its equipment, the road or shared driveway, and often some visitor parking areas.

Bareland stratas are usually much more casual than other strata corporations. Meetings are held informally and very infrequently. Often there is just a president and a treasurer that handle the corporation’s business, rather than a full strata council. By-laws are usually just the standard-form bylaws prescribed under the Strata Property Act. This can be both good and bad. Because they are so relaxed, you usually need not worry about being told what to do with your property or being constantly reminded of by-laws and worrying about infractions. However, this can also be taken advantage of by a bad neighbour or tenant who moves into and disrupts the neighbourhood by, say, parking a humongous boat, 2 other vehicles and a bunch of other junk on his or her front lawn. If the strata doesn’t have any by-laws about this, it may be forced to create some.

If you’re buying into a bare land strata, you should know that it’s very likely that there won’t be extensive financial records, by-laws, meeting minutes, and other documents you’d expect to find if you bought a townhouse or condo. A bank statement showing the amount in the strata account is often the extent of it.

One thing you should be aware of is whether or not the strata corporation owns the land upon which its sewage treatment system sits. Sometimes, this often sizable parcel is owned by the strata. In this case, if and when municipal sewers are extended to the strata and the sewage plant becomes redundant, the strata corporation can sell the land and equipment and the proceeds are then split among the owners. However, sometimes the strata is merely granted an easement or license to operate the septic system until such time as it becomes redundant. In this case, the strata can sell the equipment, but the land is up to the owner (often, the developer that built the subdivision).

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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  • Can you tell me in a bare land strata about maintaining a strata lot?? Their seems to be some confusion and some think this means the upkeep of the building. At the time of purchase the land was bare and is now overgrown with cottonwoods and blackberries. We have been told that maintained means the upkeep of a building, so does it mean also the upkeep of the strata lot to enhance the neighbourhood? Can a lot owner be levied a fine for not maintaining his strat lot?? Could you give me some feedback on this, please??

  • Don Bob

    Is HST payable by a purchaser of a bare land strata lot they don’t plan to build on

    • Tim Ayres

      If it is a new subdivision, probably, yes.

    • If it is a new subdivision, probably, yes. 

  • Pam

    Hi:  Very interesting post.  We live in a bare land strata that is not completed as yet.  However, we have always had a council, minutes, financial statements, by-laws, etc.  I look forward to future postings!

    Pam Green
    Oliver, BC

  • tom

    It is quite apparent that you have not done your homework as far as bare land strata’s are concerned. If a Developer has a registered, bare land strata, then his bylaws or rules are in vogue until he files a cancellation with the Government

    • Tom, in my experience, most developers that I’ve dealt with are only doing a bareland strata to enable greater density or because that’s what the local zoning requires. Bylaws are a by-product of this method of subdivision and most developers don’t bother to register any different bylaws other than the standard-form Strata Property Act ones. A developer certainly could, and if so, yes, they’d be in force. 

      Purchasers would find this out by way of the Developer’s Disclosure Statement if purchasing a new property, or by way of the listing REALTOR® when purchasing a resale property. 

  • Bob

    Can a bare land strata take responsibility for maintenance and insurance on strata lots and their buildings by amending the bylaws if it suits their particular situation better to do so, and such bylaws are amended properly per the SPA with a 3/4 vote, etc, etc.?

  • Amer

    If you purchase a home on a bareland strata and are wanting to run a dayhome out of it can the strata deny you that right? It would be a source of income to help pay for the home