Advice for Condo Owners

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Who is an Owner?

To be an owner of a strata lot or condominium in B.C., you need to meet one of the following conditions:

  • you are the registered owner (or a representative) of a strata lot at the land title office
  • you are the leasehold tenant in a leasehold strata plan
  • you are the last holder of a registered agreement for sale; or
  • you have a registered life estate or are a tenant for life.

You can become a member of the strata council for your building after being elected at an annual general meeting.

What do you actually own?

When you buy a strata lot or condo in Vancouver, you own a share of the common property and common assets (as a tenant in common with other owners). Importantly, when you buy a strata lot, you must understand that you also buy the land and the (whole) building.

What are the boundaries of your strata lot?

If your strata lot is surrounded on all sides by other strata lots (or suites), the boundary of your lot exists in the middle of each wall, floor and ceiling that touches a neighbouring suite. Therefore, the boundary of your strata lot is not the wall, ceiling or floor that you see. It exists in the middle of those surfaces. This rule applies unless the strata plan uses different measures.

In the space between your strata lot and another, there exists an “implied easement” and an “easement” for the passage of water, drainage, gas, oil, electricity, garbage, heating and cooling systems. The easement can help you to enjoy or use your suite better than if it did not exist.

Do companies have a right to enter your suite to repair equipment?

Technicians might enter your suite to check smoke detectors and clean ducts annually that exist within the walls. Easements create a burden (or obligation) requiring you to allow technicians from Telus or Terasen gas, for example, to repair equipment for you continued enjoyment and to support the continued enjoyment of others. When you buy a strata, you need to be mindful of the fact that part of your suite helps someone else, and part of their suite helps you. You must allow the strata council reasonable access to the common property or a common asset.

Can you remove a wall between strata units?

You require the strata council’s approval before removing a common wall between your strata lot and another. To get this approval, you need to provide strata council with the required building permits.

What happens if the size of your strata unit changes after a renovation?

If your renovation changes the size of your strata unit, you may seek an amendment to the “Schedule of Unit Entitlement” and obtain a unanimous vote at an annual general meeting or special general meeting.

Can you get short-term exclusive use of the common property or a common asset?

The strata corporation may give a tenant or owner exclusive use of common property or a common asset (where it is not limited common property.)

What happens if the strata corporation provides you with a work order?

The strata corporation must promptly notify you of an order to perform work on you strata lot. And, if you an owner receive an notice to perform work from the strata corporation, you must do the work. provide you with prompt notice of an order

What happens if you fail to do the work?

If you fail to do the work, the strata corporation may perform the work on your behalf. You must reimburse the strata corporation for any money that it spends to complete the work. If you disagree with the bill, you can file an appeal.

Can my strata charge me to use the common property?

Your condo corporation must not charge a fee for the use of the common property or common assets by owners, tenants, occupants or their visitors (besides those fees that are indicated in the regulations).

How much money does the condo need to provide me with before it collects money?

Your strata needs to provide you at least two weeks notice in writing before demanding payment. This notice should outline the steps you need to take to within that 2 week period.

What happens if you owe money to the strata and there is an ongoing dispute?

To remedy a disagreement over money owing with your strata, you may do one of the following: first, pay the money into court if proceedings have already begun proceedings (and the Supreme Court Civil rules allow payment); or, second, give the money to the strata council to hold in trust depending on whether the issue is referred to arbitration, notice was given by the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT), or court proceedings have begun. The strata corporation will hold the money in trust including interest until the dispute is resolved. The strata, corporation, must pay the appropriate party based on the decision of arbitration, CRT or court.

How soon can you expect a Certificate of Payment?

Within 1 week of requesting a “Certificate of Payment,” the strata corporation must provide the owner, purchaser or authorized person with a certificate indicating either that no money is owed or that money is owed to the strata. The certificate may include fines and costs to remedy violations of a bylaw or rule. The certificate of payment must not include damage claims against the owner.

How long is a Certificate of Payment valid for?

A certificate of payment is valid for a period of 60 days from the date of issue. The Strata corporation may charge a fee for this certificate.