In British Columbia, a strata corporation is created under the province’s Strata Property Act by filing a strata plan with the applicable Land Title Office. A “strata” can include condominiums, townhouses, duplexes and even single family homes in bare land stratas. In this article, we will introduce some of the key features of bylaws and rules which are governed by Part 7 of the Strata Property Act and Part 7 of the Strata Property Regulation.
A strata corporation must have bylaws. The bylaws may provide for the control, management, maintenance, use and enjoyment of the strata lots, common property and common assets of the strata corporation and for the administration of the strata corporation.
The Schedule of Standard Bylaws enclosed as a schedule to the Strata Property Act are the default bylaws that apply to the strata unless a strata corporation files alternate bylaws with the Land Title Office. The Schedule of Standard Bylaws can be found here: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/98043_18.
Some key bylaws to watch for include:
- use of the property including (without limitation) restrictions on pets, rentals and smoking;
- repair and maintenance by the strata corporation and by the owner; and
- fines for contravention of a bylaw, contravention of a rule and a continuing contravention.
Bylaws may be changed, repealed, replaced, added to or otherwise amended by obtaining the necessary approval from the strata owners and making the necessary filing in the prescribed form with the applicable Land Title Office. Generally, an amendment cannot be made to a bylaw:
- before the strata’s second annual general meeting without the unanimous approval of all strata owners; and
- after the strata’s second annual general meeting without approval from 3/4 of all strata owners.
Please note that there are special requirements if the strata consists of residential and non-residential strata lots (or sections).
A strata corporation may also make rules governing the use, safety and condition of the common property and common assets. If there is a conflict between a rule and a bylaw, the bylaw will prevail.
There are no default rules imposed by the Strata Property Act. Instead, rules may be created by the strata council without consulting the owners of the strata lots provided that the rules are in a written document capable of being photocopied and the strata council informs the owners and tenants of any new rules as soon as feasible.
A rule ceases to be enforceable at the first annual general meeting held after it is made unless the rule is ratified by a resolution passed by a majority vote at that annual general meeting or at a special general meeting held before that annual general meeting. After a rule has been ratified in this manner, it is effective until it is repealed, replaced or altered without the need for further ratification.
A strata corporation is responsible for enforcing bylaws and rules, if any. The following link provides valuable information regarding the enforcement process, privacy, enforcement options, etc.: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/strata-housing/operating-a-strata/bylaws-and-rules/enforcing-bylaws-and-rules
The bylaws will set out the fine payable if a bylaw or rule is contravened (including continuous contraventions). Please note that the maximum fines permitted under the Strata Property Act and Strata Property Regulation is $200 for each contravention of a bylaw and $50 for each contravention of a rule. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the maximum amount that a strata corporation may set out in its bylaws as a fine for the rental of a residential strata lot in contravention of a bylaw that prohibits or limits rentals is $500 for each contravention of the bylaw. Please note that the maximum frequency that a strata corporation may set out in its bylaws for the imposition of a fine for a continuing contravention of a bylaw or rule is every 7 days.
Please note that a bylaw or rule, as applicable, is not enforceable by a strata corporation to the extent that the bylaw or rule, as applicable: (a) contravenes the Strata Property Act, the regulations, the Human Rights Code or any other enactment or law; (b) destroys or modifies an easement; or (c) prohibits or restricts the right of an owner of a strata lot to freely sell, lease, mortgage or otherwise dispose of the strata lot or an interest in the strata lot. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a bylaw can prohibit or limit rentals in accordance with section 141 of the Strata Property Act, relate to the conduct related to the sale of a strata lot in accordance with section 122 of the Strata Property Act (Ex. locations and posting of signs, times of showings of common property, open houses, etc.) or restrict the age of persons who may reside in a strata lot. Please also note that a bylaw restricting a pet does not apply to a guide dog or service dog.
If you have any questions regarding bylaws, rules or stratas in general, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our lawyers practicing in the area of real estate law.
Author: Danielle (Dani) Brito
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 area of real estate law 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