Condo Living

Dec 2016

By Rita Button

If you’re considering buying a condo, you might be wondering how people are able to live together happily in one large building. Partly, it’s following the regulations set out by the provincial government, and partly it’s an appreciation for diversity, and partly, it’s understanding that the Golden Rule works especially well in such a setting.

People do have questions about how it all works. Using the province’s website extensively, I’ll answer a few of the bigger ones for this issue.

It’s important to know that people who own strata lots or condos within the building must follow the rule of provincial law as stated by The Strata Property Act and Regulations, which can be found on the web at the following address: -- S --/Strata Property Act [SBC 1998] c. 3/00_Act/98043_02.xml#part2  (or )

People who own the strata lots “are members of the strata corporation under the name ‘The Owners, Strata Plan.’ (IBID) As members of the Strata Corporation, they are “responsible to manage and maintain the common property and common assets of the strata corporation for the benefit of its owners.” (IBID)

The Strata Property Act and Regulations also requires the Strata Corporation to use a council which is given the responsibility to act on behalf of the corporation to maintain the building and implement by-laws in a democratic manner.

The Strata Council is elected at the first meeting of the Strata Corporation for a one or two-year term as defined in the Strata’s by-laws. They are the people who have volunteered and have been given the trust to ensure the laws and regulations are followed so that peace prevails in the building and the common property is maintained faithfully. Those elected must fulfill certain official capacities:  President, Vice-president, and Treasurer. 

Members of the Strata Council have a large responsibility. Most Strata Corporations hire a property manager to help with the management of the building and its idiosyncrasies. Property managers know the rules and regulations governing Strata Corporations and ensure that the volunteers who have been elected to work on Council are apprised of any changes in the law and to assist in developing a viable process to meet the requirements the Property Act sets for all strata properties.

Meeting regularly, Strata Councils decide on day to day operating issues such as building maintenance, custodial issues, requests for renovation approvals meeting the requirements set out in the by-laws, action items, tracking, and managing the budget, a process which includes ensuring that the Contingency Reserve Fund is adequate. Depending on the nature of the change and what the by-law requires for that decision, some votes may require 100 percent yes votes; some may require 75 percent yes votes, while the majority of the decisions require a simple majority of those attending the meeting. Please note that a quorum is required for all strata council meetings.

Strata’s responsibility to create the annual budget is a process that impacts strata fees and that uses the financial history of the building, in part, to finalize the budget. Common property, as well as Limited Common Property, must be examined carefully when the budget is created for the next business year.

Sometimes, people are confused about the differences between Common Property and Limited Common Property. Elevators, roofs, lobbies and driveways entering and exiting parkade areas are examples of property that is common to everyone who owns a strata lot. Repairing and maintaining these is totally Strata’s responsibility. Limited Common Properties are areas such as the balconies, which the owner or tenant maintains, but Strata repairs. 

This is only the beginning of how condos and stratas work. Much more information is available on the web. The web address given above might be a place to start, or if you have a specific question, you might google it, but make sure that you access British Columbia stratas since the rules and by-laws vary from province to province.