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.
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.
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.
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