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Posts tagged ‘strata property act’

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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Spiderman Survives the Recession

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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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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First-Time-Buyer Friday #3 – Strata Properties

Shutters Spa and Residences

Shutters Condominiums on The Songhees in Victoria

In my continuing series, First-Time-Buyer Fridays, I answer a common question from a first-time buyer. If you have a question to submit, first-time-buyer or experienced investor, put one in the comments below, or fire me an e-mail at Tim@TimAyres.ca.

Q. I hear the terms “strata property,” “strata fee,” and “strata council” all the time when looking through listings and talking to real estate people. What exactly does strata mean?

A. Strata properties are just another type of property ownership. It’s a legal concept for dividing up a large property such as a condominium project into individual units that individual owners can own. Typically, a strata property will be either a condominium, townhouse, or bareland strata.

When you buy a strata property, you become a member of that project’s strata corporation, along with the other owners in the building. The strata corporation elects a strata council, which makes decisions and handles things like by-law enforcement, record-keeping, paying the common bills, and so on. Strata corporations are operated much the same as non-profit societies in this way.

A strata property is divided up into three types of property. There is the strata lot (SL), which is the unit that an individual can own; the actual townhouse or condo. There is common property (CP), which each owner in the strata corporation owns a proportion of, depending on the size of their strata lots. This would include things like the driveway, exterior of the building including the roof and exterior walls, hallways, elevators, and so on. Basically everything outside of the interior walls of the condo or townhouse. Finally, there is limited common property (LCP), which is common property designated for the exclusive use of an individual unit. For example, balconies are almost always LCP, and a parking space for a unit will often be LCP, especially in older stratas.

Strata fees are charged to each owner to cover the common expenses like heating the common areas, cleaning, maintenance, water, sewer, insurance, and so on. Strata owners are responsible to pay the strata fees (usually, once a month) levied to their strata lot. The amount each owner pays varies depending on their unit entitlement. Unit entitlement is a fancy way of saying the size of their strata lot in proportion to the other lots in the building or complex. So, the bigger in square footage you go, the more you can expect to pay in strata fees compared to smaller units in the same complex. Strata fees really to vary from property to property in Victoria and Sooke. I would budget about $200-$275 for a two-bedroom condo, and $100-$150 for a one-bedroom. I’ve rarely seen a monthly strata fee over $300 for either a townhouse or condo in Victoria or Sooke.

When buying into a strata corporation, you will be given the opportunity to read over records of all the meetings, letters, and financial statements from the last couple of years. You will also have a chance to read over the by-laws, to make sure they fit with your lifestyle. Many condominiums in Fairfield, for example, do not allow pets. Several others have an age by-law which restricts the units to those aged 19, 55, or even 65 and over. Some complexes allow rentals, and some do not, which is something to keep in mind, also.

All of this discussion about stratas has pushed me to start writing a new section on this blog focusing on strata issues. So, now we’ll have FTB Fridays, and Strata Saturdays Mondays (sorry, can’t guarantee writing on a Saturday!). For detailed information about British Columbia’s Strata Property Act, have a look at the Government of BC Website.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions on buying your first or fiftieth home, I’d be happy to help. Call me any time direct at 250-885-0512 or e-mail me at Tim@TimAyres.ca.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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