Occasionally, we hear from owners of stratified properties where there are only a few units, or stratified duplexes, that their strata is “non-conforming”. Often, these smaller strata properties do not vote as an active strata council, collect strata fees, have a contingency fund, or have many of the other features that one would associate with a strata corporation. Therefore, owners of non-conforming strata properties often mistakenly believe that the Strata Property Act does not apply to them.
This is not the case – if a property has been stratified, the Strata Property Act and the Regulations apply. A strata corporation comes into existence upon the filing of a strata plan with the Land Title and Survey Authority (the “LTSA”), and is automatically known as “The Owners, Strata Plan [___]”. You can determine if a property is stratified by reviewing the plan filed with the LTSA or reviewing the title to see whether the legal description references a strata plan/strata lot.
Importantly, the strata corporation, which consists of the owners of the strata units, should be responsible for insuring, maintaining, and repairing all of the common property and limited common property. In most strata corporations, the strata corporation will maintain insurance and individual owners are only responsible for maintaining contents insurance (bare land strata properties are a bit of exception and have slightly different qualifications). For more information on insurance and non-conforming strata properties, please see our blog article: “Insurance on Strata Duplexes” http://touchstonelawgroup.com/kelowna-lawyers/insurance-strata-duplexes/.
The common property and limited common property will be shown on the strata plan registered at the LTSA. Common property is also defined by the Strata Property Act as the parts of the land and buildings shown on the strata plan that is not part of a strata lot, as well as the pipes, wires, cables, etc. located within the walls, floors and ceilings.
If there is an issue with common property of the strata, such as a pipe running between two lots, the repair would be the responsibility of the strata corporation. If there is no contingency fund from which to draw funds to repair the issue, the owners of the strata corporation will have to come together and decide how where to get the funds from in order to proceed with the required work. This is an issue to be aware of in the so called “non-conforming stratas” which frequently do not maintain a contingency fund.
Owners in non-conforming stratas are also subject to the bylaws that are created when the strata is registered at the Land Title Office. Unless modified on registration or by a subsequent amendment, the standard bylaws (found here: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/98043_18#ScheduleofStandardBylaws) apply to all strata corporations, even those that are non-conforming. Note that the standard bylaws include restrictions on the use of the property, including, for example, restrictions on pets (i.e. only one dog or one cat can be kept on a strata lot).
In many cases, a duplex or other stratified property may be an attractive option for a home buyer, but it is important to note the insurance requirements and applicable bylaws, even if the strata is considered to be non-conforming. If you have any questions regarding the above or strata properties in general, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our lawyers practicing in the area of real estate law.
Author: Jane Otterstrom
This information is general in nature only. You should consult a lawyer before acting on any of this information. This information should not be considered as legal advice. To learn more about your legal needs, please contact our office at (250) 448-2637 or any of our lawyers practicing in the real estate at the following:
Una Gabie: firstname.lastname@example.org Jennette Vopicka: email@example.com Danielle (Dani) Brito: firstname.lastname@example.org Jane Otterstrom: email@example.com Sasha Platz: firstname.lastname@example.org