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(Almost) Everything you always wanted to know about strata living

*But were afraid to ask

Strata. You’ve heard the word, but do you really understand what it means?

 

If you’re thinking about making a move or getting into the market for the first time, strata housing could be an option – like it is for more than 1.5 million people in BC. So, here’s your chance to learn more about it.

 

Following are some of the big questions people have about strata. Read on and get informed!

 

 

Strata housing – what is it?

 

Strata housing typically includes apartment-style condominiums and townhouses, but also can refer to duplexes, fractional vacation properties and single-family homes in bare land strata corporations (“strata subdivisions”). Different kinds of strata developments include industrial, commercial, residential, bare land or a combination there-of called mixed-use.

 

For people living in strata housing, there are unique roles and responsibilities that differ from renting an apartment or owning a non-strata home. Strata owners have sole possession of their unit or lot but own the common property areas together with others – this collection of owners is called a strata corporation. All members in this corporation must pay strata fees and comply with the Strata Property Act and the strata’s individual bylaws.

 

 

What are strata fees?

Strata fees are (typically) monthly payments made by the strata corporation to pay for the common expenses of the development. Individual fees are assessed by taking the total cost of the strata’s expenses and dividing that by the particular unit’s entitlement of the strata lot. Meaning, the larger the square footage of the individual’s home, the bigger fee they pay.

 

Fees are collected and put into two funds, as mandated by the province: an operating fund for general yearly expenses such as garbage, water, building insurance, etc.; and a contingency reserve fund (CRF), typically used for intermittent or future upgrades and expenses, e.g., a new roof, replacing gutters.

 

 

What are strata legislation, bylaws and rules?

Owners and residents in all BC strata properties must the follow the province’s Strata Property Act and regulations as well as the specific strata corporation’s bylaws and rules.

 

These rules and bylaws affect a strata lot owner’s rights and responsibilities (and those of their tenants and visitors). They act as guidelines for what it will be like to live in that corporation – and this is a big part of what makes strata living different.

 

Bylaws can cover many different areas, including strata lots and common areas, and are to provide for the control, management, maintenance and use of the lots, common property and common assets of the strata corporation.

 

Rules can be created to govern the use, safety and condition of the common property and common assets. Rules cannot govern the use of strata lots, only bylaws can do this. Strata corporations typically enforce bylaws and rules using fines.

 

 

What’s the difference between a strata corporation and a strata council?

A strata corporation is seen as a single legal entity with all the powers of a “natural person who has full capacity,” meaning the corporation can sue or be sued, enter into contracts and hire employees. The owners of the strata lots are the members of the strata corporation.

 

The strata council is the elected executive body for the strata corporation. They act as the managing body for the corporation and make the daily decisions that enable the strata to operate smoothly and according to the regulations, bylaws and rules. Duties can include: calling and conducting meetings, preparing the budget and financial statements, collecting fees, obtaining adequate insurance, etc.

 

 

What are depreciation reports?

Depreciation reports help the owners in a strata corporation plan and pay for the repair, replacement and renewal of common property and shared assets, such as roofs, windows, elevators and roads. A depreciation report helps strata owners figure out what they need to do to protect their investments – and it also provides valuable information to prospective purchasers! Always ask to see the most recent depreciation report when considering making an offer on a strata lot.

 

 

To find out more about strata living in BC visit the provincial government’s website. The Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association (VISOA) also has a very helpful website for those who are strata owners or potential ones.

 

If you have any other questions about strata living or Comox Valley real estate in general, please feel free to get in touch through my website or visit my Facebook page.

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