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Strata Mondays #3 – Maintenance Responsibilities

In my continuing series about strata property, Strata Mondays, I answer a different question about condos, townhouses and other strata property in Victoria, Sooke, and British Columbia. Make sure you subscribe via RSS or E-mail to get each new post.

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Q. Who is responsible for the exterior maintenance of a strata complex (including washing windows)?

A. The easy answer here is it depends, but usually it’s the strata corporation who is in charge of the exterior maintenance of a strata complex like a condominium or townhouse.

When you own a condo or townhouse, you own the strata lot and a share of the common property of the strata corporation. Your strata lot is basically everything inside the walls of your unit and sometimes a parking space and/or storage locker. The common property is the strata building itself including the roof, windows, balconies, exterior walls, driveways, landscaping, hallways, elevators, and so on. Everyone pays strata fees, the amounts proportional to the size of their strata lot, which are used to insure, maintain and repair the common property.

The BC Strata Property Act, Part 2, Section 3 says:

Responsibilities of strata corporation

3 Except as otherwise provided in this Act, the strata corporation is responsible for managing and maintaining the common property and common assets of the strata corporation for the benefit of the owners.

Usually this means that the strata corporation would be responsible for paying to have the exterior of the building cleaned and the windows washed. Most responsible complexes have this done a couple of times a year. However, sometimes there are bylaws in place that place the duty to maintain the exterior of the strata buildings on the shoulders of the individual owners. A good example of this would be a detached townhouse complex where each owner would be responsible for replacing his or her own roof, since it only directly benefits that owner.

Part 5, Division 1, Section 72 of the BC Strata Property Act says: (emphasis mine)

Repair of property

72 (1) Subject to subsection (2), the strata corporation must repair and maintain common property and common assets.
(2) The strata corporation may, by bylaw, make an owner responsible for the repair and maintenance of

(a) limited common property that the owner has a right to use, or
(b) common property other than limited common property only if identified in the regulations and subject to prescribed restrictions.

(3) The strata corporation may, by bylaw, take responsibility for the repair and maintenance of specified portions of a strata lot.

The Strata Property Act Standard Bylaws say: (emphasis mine)

Repair and maintenance of property by owner

2 (1) An owner must repair and maintain the owner’s strata lot, except for repair and maintenance that is the responsibility of the strata corporation under these bylaws

(2) An owner who has the use of limited common property must repair and maintain it, except for repair and maintenance that is the responsibility of the strata corporation under these bylaws.

and;

Repair and maintenance of property by strata corporation

8 The strata corporation must repair and maintain all of the following:

(a) common assets of the strata corporation;
(b) common property that has not been designated as limited common property;
(c) limited common property, but the duty to repair and maintain it is restricted to

(i)  repair and maintenance that in the ordinary course of events occurs less often than once a year, and
(ii)  the following, no matter how often the repair or maintenance ordinarily occurs:

(A)  the structure of a building;
(B)  the exterior of a building;
(C)  chimneys, stairs, balconies and other things attached to the exterior of a building;
(D)  doors, windows and skylights on the exterior of a building or that front on the common property;
(E)  fences, railings and similar structures that enclose patios, balconies and yards;

(d) a strata lot in a strata plan that is not a bare land strata plan, but the duty to repair and maintain it is restricted to

(i)  the structure of a building,
(ii)  the exterior of a building,
(iii)  chimneys, stairs, balconies and other things attached to the exterior of a building,
(iv)  doors, windows and skylights on the exterior of a building or that front on the common property,
(v)  fences, railings and similar structures that enclose patios, balconies and yards.

So, while the standard bylaws and the Act say that it’s the strata corporation’s responsibility for exterior maintenance,  it’s possible that your strata complex may have enacted a bylaw that requires the owners to wash their own windows, maintain their own landscaping, or perform other exterior maintenance. To be sure, you’ll have to read your strata corporation bylaws carefully.

If you have a question about strata property, or any other real estate matter, please e-mail me at Tim@TimAyres.ca or fill in my contact form. I can also be reached by phone at 250-885-0512

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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  • mary bee

    Very interesting site – we live in a condo on the mainland and have one question. We have a 2 storey townhouse. We notice the carpet is buckling upstairs and it appears that it is the floor which is the problem, not the carpet. Is the floor considered common property, or part of the “structure” – in other words do you think this is our problem or would the strata insurance cover the repairs ?

    Thanks for any help.

    • Usually, everything inside the midway point of the exterior walls and roof of your unit is your responsibility, so a problem with the floor on your second storey would likely be your expense. Talk to your strata council and/or an experienced strata lawyer if you need a 100% reliable answer.

  • Deryk

    For information that is quite helpful a strata owner can also visit http://www.visoa.bc.ca

  • Bobby Jo

    I’m enjoying your Strata Mondays and have a question I hope you can shed some light on. I live in a 2-storey townhouse and have a cement crawlspace which cracked around the area where the toilet piping is located. This caused the piping to shift and crack the toilet seal which then caused my toilet to overflow and ruin my bathroom floor. Question: Is the root of this cause (cement cracking around toilet plumbing) considered common property and should the repair of the plumbing and floor be covered by the strata corps insurance policy?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Bobby Jo, thanks for the comment/question.

      It would seem to me that this should be covered, since plumbing outside a strata unit is usually the responsibility of the strata corporation (common property), but it would depend exactly where the crack is and whether that is designated as part of your strata lot or common/limited common property. Every situation is different. I would write a letter to the strata council outlining what you told me and ask them to contact their insurer to see if it’s covered. If you disagree, it may be worth your while to get an experienced strata lawyer involved. Sorry I can’t be of more help, but my comments are only general information and can’t necessarily be applied to specific situations, and certainly cannot be relied upon as legal advice.

  • ChristaV

    Hi, I have a question, and hope you can help me.
    I own a townhouse /condo in Nanaimo.  A few weeks the drain under my bathtub (second floor) was leaking, I noticed this because water was coming down through the ceiling and drips along the  drywall seams were visible, and now there is a darker stained area there.
    the strata management company was notified, soeone came and looked, cut a hole in the ceiling, took out wet insulation and the leak was found; the wet drywal in the ceiling dried out.  A plumber was sent by the strata management and the leak was fixed.  Now the strata said it is up to me to fix the ceiling?  I don’t understand that… the ceiling was damaged because of the leak… I would not of known there was a leak in the plumbing.  It was only because the water seeping down that I called them.  And the stains are still visible, beyond the piece that was cut out.
    Do you think I am responsible for my ceiling in this case…or is the strata, as they said they were responsible for the plumbing in the ceiling but not my ceiling?
    Would appreciate an answer or can you direct me to a site with answers to this type of question.
    Thanks

    • Every situation is different – but to me it sounds like it’s probably your responsibility since the common property typically ends at the *exterior* walls of your unit. In fact, I’m surprised that the strata is paying for the plumbing, since this repair was to pipes that were completely contained within your strata lot. You could check with the Condominium Home Owner’s Association. Their website has a good archive of Tony Gioventu’s Condo Smarts articles: http://www.choa.bc.ca/resources.html

      Tim Ayres – REALTOR®
      Personal Real Estate Corporation
      Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty
      E-mail: Tim@TimAyres.ca | Twitter: http://Twitter.com/TimAyres
      Web: http://TimAyres.ca | Blog: http://WhatTheSooke.com
      Phone: +1 (250) 642-6361(office) | +1 (250) 885-0512 (mobile)
      Fax: +1 (250) 642-3012 (office) | Fax: 1-866-279-0606 (personal, toll free)

    • ChristaV

       Thanks for your quick reply!
      Much appreciated.
      Regards
      Christa

  • superme123

    Hello, our strata is trying to get a 3/4 vote to change the windows in the complex. To entice people to vote for their project, the property manager suggested an opt out for the owners who have already paid to upgrade their windows (with strata’s approval). Those Owners would get a credit for the special levy but would have to sign a document acknowledging that their windows would not longer be strata’s responsibility. Beside being a bad idea, is that legal?
    Thanks

  • StrataOwner

    Hi Tim,

    Quick question – our strata is a 24 unit townhouse complex – 4 townhouses together. Is the insulation between the two units (adjoining walls) considered a strata responsibility or home owner responsibility? Or is it defect on the developer’s part? The townhouses are less than 3 years old but these two units hear everything from drawers closing, alarm clocks and snoring. Most descriptions I have found state strata lots are contained within the walls of the Unit but strata is responsible for the exterior of the building – I can’t find anything about the insulation between walls – only pipes, ducts, electrical, etc. between walls.