Archive for the ‘Strata Information’ Category

Strata must inform tenants of all bylaw changes

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

Owner must provide Form K to Strata

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony:

 I have been a tenant since 2016 in a highrise in Vancouver. About one-third third of our building are rentals and none of the tenants has been elected to council. 

I received notice from council that l am in violation of the strata bylaws for using an electric barbecue on my balcony. I read the bylaws that were given to me by the owner of my unit at the time I rented, and they permitted only electric barbecues. 

I responded in writing, requesting the bylaw they were quoting as I have nothing in the bylaws provided by my landlord. The strata responded that it adopted new bylaws at the June 2018 annual meeting and the bylaw was amended prohibiting all outdoor cooking and it was my landlord’s responsibility to inform me of the bylaws.

Neither the strata corporation nor the landlord provided any bylaw updates. How is it possible for tenants to comply with new bylaws if they don’t know about them?

Terri M.

Dear Terri:

When an owner rents their strata lot, they must provide a completed Form K notice of tenant’s responsibilities to the strata corporation. Both the landlord and the tenant must sign the form.

The landlord’s obligation is to ensure that all current bylaws and rules of the strata corporation at the time the form is signed are attached to the form and provided to the tenant. While the form acknowledges that the tenant must comply with any changed bylaws and rules, the duty to inform the tenants of any changes of new rules or bylaws falls on the shoulders of the strata corporation.

Under the Strata Property Act, the strata corporation must inform owners and tenants of any amendment to the bylaws as soon as feasible after the amendment is approved. Unfortunately, many strata corporations and managers assume the owners will inform their tenants or that the notice of a general meeting and the minutes that follow will be sufficient. This is not formal notice in the same manner as a general meeting, but applies the general communication format your strata corporation employs, provided every tenant and owner has access to the information.

Best practice: if your strata corporation has adopted new bylaws or ratified new rules, as soon as feasible have them posted to a website where everyone has access or post them in public areas where residents will see notices, and send out a written copy advising of the new bylaws or rules. The minutes of the meeting may be an acceptable form of notice; however, attach the new ratified rules or approved bylaws so they are clearly identified. 

To ensure you have given notice of enforceable bylaws, within a week of your meeting confirm the new bylaws have been filed in the Land Title Registry before you send the minutes or notice of new bylaws. We have identified many circumstances where bylaws were adopted and never filed. Bylaws are only enforceable once they are filed in the registry. Notice of bylaw amendments after an amendment has been approved, but not filed, is required as there may be bylaws that have exemptions created for age restrictions, pet bylaws or rental restrictions, and these exemptions apply when the bylaw is approved, not when it is filed, so timing is everything.

Don’t forget if you are a landlord and renting your unit to a family member, or qualify under any of the rental exemptions, you must still provide a completed Form K to the strata corporation.

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Strata credit cards can be problematic

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

Owners are entitled to be informed about all expenses

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony:

I am new to my strata council. I purchased five years ago and our strata is very well run; however, a number of questions came up at our AGM that made me start to wonder if everything really is as reported.

We did not have any items reported as expenses from our contingency fund this year, and yet I know we had at least three emergencies of significant expense. The treasurer advised that emergency expenses are at the discretion of council and can be expended from the operating fund, the operating surplus or the contingency fund. Is this correct?

Another owner also questioned a line item called “service charges for accounts”. When questioned about the authority for this expense, the treasurer advised these were financing charges for our annual insurance and credit card. How does a strata corporation have a credit card?

Caroline M., Saanich

Dear Caroline:

It is a bit surprising how strata corporations and some management companies are creative with accounting and reporting to their owners. Owners are entitled to be informed about all expenses such as operating, contingency, special levy, and operating surplus expenses.

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If a strata corporation maintains an operating surplus, that is not a slush for council at its discretion. Operating surplus funds may only be expended by three-quarters vote approval at a general meeting or may be deposited to the contingency reserve fund by majority vote. 

Emergency expenses may only be expended from the operating fund or the contingency reserve fund. If they are spent from the operating fund surplus, a special levy or an approved contingency expense, those expenses may only be used to offset a deficit at the end of the year if approved by a three-quarters vote of the owners.

If you approve an emergency expense from the contingency fund, it simply becomes an allocated expense to that fund, identified as an emergency in the council minutes and it does not have to be paid back to the fund. If a deficit results with no approved fund by three-quarters vote, the deficit must be paid back to the operating fund within the next fiscal year and becomes a payable line item in next year’s operating budget.

Insurance deductibles as a common expense are the only exception where a strata council may automatically impose a special levy for an insurance deductible without the need for a three-quarters vote authorization at a general meeting.  

In regards to a line of credit, credit card or loan, the strata corporation is permitted to borrow funds only if it has approved the loan or credit by a three-quarters vote. That would include a line of credit or credit card or financing of an insurance policy. 

If your strata corporation intends on using a long-term line of credit or credit card, I recommend you seek legal advice on drawing up a bylaw to satisfy the three-quarters vote requirement setting limitations and terms and conditions on the use and reporting of the card.

My experience with strata corporations that hold credit cards is not positive. At some point in the history of the card, there is always someone on council who ends of abusing the card or spending on personal or unauthorized expenses.

Here is a thought to consider about credit cards. A tenant or family member who is a tenant may be granted permission by the owner of a strata lot to be elected to council. This person is not on title and may not have any personal assets to risk. You may also have an owner or tenant on council with a very poor credit history or more serious financial issues. As volunteers and fellow owners, you have no knowledge of their financial record and you are about to entrust them with a credit card that holds everyone within your strata corporation liable for any charges. Does this sound like a prudent decision?  

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Vote needed if council wants to tinker with common property

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Special general meeting required for changes to common property

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony:

Our strata council has decided to shut down our swimming pool and hot tub for the next three months to save money. They claim the growing costs of winter heating are going to result in a deficit budget, so they have the authority to shut down the services. 

Three council members have been lobbying for this because they don’t use the pool. Because we are in a resort area, owners who rent their units and resident owners who use the pool are furious. Does the council have the authority to impose these changes?

Helen F.

Dear Helen:

Almost every strata corporation across the province has some form of common property. How common property is administered is determined through the bylaws and rules of the corporation or the resolutions approved by the owners at general meetings.

Any significant change in the use or appearance of common property requires the approval of the owners by a three-quarters vote at an annual or special general meeting. The strata council does not have the authority to approve significant changes that would alter the appearance of common property and buildings or changes that would significantly alter the use of the property.

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If the strata corporation is heading into a deficit, the council has several options. It could simply complete the balance of the year and if there is a deficit, the owners repay the deficit amount in the following fiscal year as either part of the next operating budget by majority vote or a special levy or contingency expense by three-quarters vote.

The council could also convene a special general meeting before the fiscal year end to approve a special levy to make up the projected differences, or seek the approval of the owners by three-quarters vote to suspend operations of the pool facilities to the end of the fiscal year. 

While I appreciate the fiscal prudence of your council, it also has to be recognized the pool facilities are a key part of your resort property through the winter, and closing the facility may have negative impact on your owners’ ability to rent their units.  

If your strata council does not respond, you may, by 20-per-cent petition of the owners, demand a special general meeting to direct the council by majority vote to open the facilities. The meeting must be held within four weeks after the demand is given to the strata corporation. If the council does not hold the meeting within the time period, the petitioners may give notice of the meeting and petitioned agenda items.

There is a significant amount of debate over what constitutes a significant change to common property. The Strata Property Act establishes the change must be significant and applies to use or appearance, but how does a council determine what is significant? 

A straightforward test on the proposed change is helpful. Will the change in use alter the ability of owners, tenants or guests to access the facility? Is the change short term only to address a maintenance or safety issue or is this a policy change in use? How will everyone be affected by the change? Will the change result in other occupants being affected adversely?

If you are planning a change in use or appearance, there may be other considerations. A removal of a tree or group of plantings may affect the appearance, as well as the use of the property, and may affect privacy. The installation of structures such as garden sheds or landscaping features may also be a significant change if they affect use or enjoyment of the common property or adjacent strata lots. Major construction or alterations to building exteriors requested by owners to enclose balconies or install skylights may also be a significant change.

If it is likely that a strata lot(s) or use of area is being affected by the changes, it is probably significant and worth the effort to seek the approval of the owners at a general meeting before you proceed. Council members also need to be routinely reminded they are elected to act in the best interest of the strata corporation, not their personally agenda.  

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Strata must maintain and repair dryer ducts and vents

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

Pipes, wires, ducts and cables within a strata complex are common property

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony:

Our highrise is having an ongoing problem with dryer vents and ducting that was inserted into the concrete floors. They are either too long, too small or have somehow been damaged during construction. The result is the ducting plugs; the exhaust saturates the lint trapped in the duct, the ducts leak and the ceilings in our units are all being damaged.

To solve this problem, council has decided that from now on, the ducting and exterior vents will be each owner’s responsibility to maintain and repair.

With so many elderly people in our building, the result will either be avoidance because they can’t or won’t manage the work, or injuries resulting from the maintenance.

How can we convince our council this needs to be controlled by the strata corporation to ensure ducting is cleaned regularly? Many owners are concerned about fires as well as the council has threatened owners with the liability of a fire if they don’t clear their ducts.

Marta P.,  Vancouver

Dear Marta:

Pipes, wires, ducts and cables that are used in connection with other strata lots or pass through a ceiling or wall that forms a boundary between two strata lots or a strata lot and common property, are deemed by the Strata Property Act to be common property.

The act and regulations do not permit a strata corporation to make an owner responsible for common property and the strata council or owners either as a rule, policy or bylaw cannot change the definitions of common property.

On your strata plan, your dryer ducts leave your dryers and enter the floor ducts between two units and exhaust through a small exterior vent on the face of the balcony. The floor forms a boundary between two strata lots, which deems the vents and ducting as common property. Whether they are for exclusive use or not is irrelevant. The ducting could be in the floor or ceiling between two strata lots, or run through an attic space that is common property.

In any case, the dryer ducting in your building within the floors and the exterior vent is common property. As a result, the strata corporation must maintain and repair the dryer ducts and exhaust vents.

From a practical view, it is always better for the strata corporation to maintain and repair any items that can be grouped in quantities. It is much more economical to have one contractor clean 142 ducts and vents compared to each owner contracting separately. Your strata corporation can also confirm the work has been completed. 

In extreme cases, clogged ducts between the dryer and the floor duct, and dryers that are not routinely cleaned will result in a fire. There were several dryer vent fires across Canada in 2018, all caused by occupants not cleaning the dryer lint catch, or the pipe that goes to the vents.

In the event a floor duct cannot be cleaned as a result of a collapse during construction, it may be necessary for the owner to use a condenser drying unit or install venting within the strata lot space. In this case, the owner would require the approval of the strata corporation before making any alterations to the structure of the building or the building envelope for the exhaust. Secondary lint traps installed between the dryer and the area where the duct enters a wall or floor will greatly reduce the buildup. 

Every strata corporation and strata plan have variations. Always consult the registered strata plan to determine the designation of property and the bylaws of the strata to determine the division of responsibilities between the owners and the corporation.

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Best bid no guarantee of the best result

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

Multiple bids alone will not assure success or best value

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony:

 Our strata owners recently approved $1.8 million from our contingency fund on elevator upgrades, deck and balcony repairs and the replacement of our boilers. At our general meeting, an owner questioned the council on how the funds would be spent and how the council would ensure we obtained the best prices for the best values and not leave our strata corporation in a disaster over failed contracts.

The council responded that it would be seeking several bids from contractors and awarding the contract to the best price, but it would not explain how this process would unfold.

While the owners did approve the expenses, there remain several concerns over past council practices of just awarding contracts without any due diligence. Do any standards or conditions exist that strata councils must follow when administering projects over a certain value, such as $100,000?

Emma Walters, Vancouver 

Dear Emma:

Many strata council and property managers often assure their owners and clients that several bids on a project will be sought and the best bid will be accepted. However, multiple bids alone will not assure success or best value.

A bidding process is only credible if everyone is bidding on exactly the same details and specifications. To achieve this standard, an independent consultant or technician is hired who details the scope of work and contractual details, and every bidder is required to comply with the specifications of the project and contract conditions to qualify.  

General bids on a project will help your strata in planning and understanding the scope of the project and estimate pricing, but it does not replace competitive tendering.

In my experience, a well detailed scope of work and a qualified list of contractors who meet the conditions of the contract will provide your strata corporation with a comfortable level of confidence on the pricing, the contractor’s ability to perform the work and legal options if the project becomes embroiled in conflict. No one wants contractors who constantly delay completion, fail to meet their quoted prices, take shortcuts on promised schedules of work or use substandard materials on their project.

While a tendering process is not always possible for every contract, a reliable preferred contractor should still expect to enter into a written agreement that details the scope of work and the terms and conditions of a contract. 

A qualified consultant will provide you with a detailed scope of work and monitor the progress and completion of the project to confirm the contractor has met their promised obligations. Your lawyer reviews the scope of work and provides advice on contract terms, conditions and helps negotiate.

A bid is only reliable for your owners if the project is completed within the time frame promised, on budget and with quality materials and service. 

The CHOA offices receive monthly complaints regarding contractors who undertake projects and fail to meet building code requirements, obtain building permits or are in violation of WorkSafe regulations. These failures overwhelming burden condo owners with costs and delays that could have been easily avoided.

Neither strata councils nor property managers are procurement experts. The whole point of buying in a strata corporation is the collective ability to manage and negotiate purchasing. Your common fees ensure your strata council has access to hire the necessary professionals.

There are no laws or regulations that regulate how strata corporations administer the purchasing of products or services; however, that does not prevent the owners of strata corporations from making decisions by majority vote that direct or restrict strata councils in the action of their duties, or strata corporations adopting bylaws that regulate purchasing practices and procedures.

If your owners insist on an independent consultant and a supervised bidding process, you are permitted by majority vote at a general meeting to direct council to retain the professionals necessary to protect your interests.

A majority vote to approve money from your contingency fund for repairs or major maintenance cycles as recommended by a depreciation report may also include consulting and legal services as part of that project.

Don’t be deceived by values. A $25,000 deck repair can easily spiral out of control into a $100,000  nightmare. Get the right consultants on the job and do it only once. A common warning alarm from a contractor is: “If you are going to seek competitive bids on this project, I am not interested because it will the make the project too expensive.” What they are really saying is: “If you want me to compete on a level playing field with everyone else, I won’t play.”

These are the common funds of your owners. How do you think they should be best spent? 

© 2019 Postmedia Network Inc.

Strata rules oversee common facilities

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

Strata rules must be approved by vote

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony:

Our highrise building has a recreation room that can be rented for private parties and is used for social events and meetings in our community. As a result of several owner events where there have been additional janitorial costs, our strata council has decided to close off the recreation room.

Our community plans potluck gatherings for most holidays and festivals like Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and Christmas.

Our council tends to rule the building with a number of policies and change them without any consultation of the owners. How do we change this behaviour to ensure fair access to our recreation room?

Nina R. 

Dear Nina:

The use of common facilities is regulated and managed through bylaws or rules. Once a bylaw or rule has been properly approved or ratified by the owners at a general meeting, the strata council must enforce those bylaws and rules and is required to convene a meeting of the owners to approve any amendments.

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If council approves a rule at a council meeting, that rule is in place until the next general meeting where the owners are required to ratify the new rule by majority vote or it will cease to have effect.

Rules are a very useful form of governance in strata corporations as they may be created by council by majority vote at a council meeting, or the owners may petition to demand a special general meeting to approve a new rule or add a new rule to the agenda of the next general meeting.

Rules are not filed in the land title registry. They apply only to the use and enjoyment of common property, and may include user fees to cover the costs of recreational facilities, key fobs, the recovery of operating costs for electric-vehicle charging stations and other common facility costs. If the strata corporation is going to impose user fees, deposits or charges for common area facilities or services in a rule, the rule must be first ratified by the owners at a general meeting.

Strata councils routinely try to impose building policies on owners and tenants and on fellow council members to avoid the scrutiny and approval of owners at general meetings. There is no ability in the Strata Property Act to enforce a building-use policy unless it has been ratified as a rule or approved as a bylaw. 

Many strata corporations have adopted and used rules effectively. To ensure your owners and occupants are aware of the rules, confirm you have a consolidated set that is published and available.

While we often assume rules are general use and easy to create, they must still comply with all enactments of law, the human rights code and the Strata Property Act and Regulations. A legal review of bylaws and rules is recommended at least every five years or when there are changes to legislation.

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Owner’s insurance claim can’t be blocked

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

It’s all about the deductible

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony:

 Our building had a pipe break between two units flooding out my condo, a common hallway and our building entry. Our strata corporation has a current deductible of $5,000 and the property manager determined the value of damages to my unit were only $5,500. As a result, the manager and the council decided not to file an insurance claim and advised they would repair the common areas and I would be responsible for my own unit. 

Why should I be stuck with all of the damages to my unit, which included the restoration company removing the drywall from my ceiling and damages to my carpets and walls?

My insurance company will not cover these damages as they claim it is the responsibility of the strata corporation and covered under their insurance. I am currently left with no ceiling in my living room, bare floors and water damaged walls, no insurance to cover the claim and the strata council are doing very little about repairing the damages to the common areas.

The council do not want our deductible to be increased so they blocked the claim.  Help? 

Veronica C. Richmond

Dear Veronica:

Under the Strata Property Act an owner and a tenant are named insureds on the strata corporation policy. There is absolutely no reason for you to be living under these conditions as you pay for the insurance through your strata fees like every other owner. The strata corporation cannot block or split the claim.

The pipe break was a single incident and forms one insurance claim.  An owner may file the claim directly with the strata corporation’s insurer, and they will send an adjuster to investigate the claim and the damages.

If the amount is above the deductible, the claim will be activated and the strata corporation’s insurance will cover the restoration of the original assets and fixtures of your strata lot which will include the drywall and original flooring, damage to electrical services and any insulation requirements, which will also include damages to the common property.

The insurance deductible will be a common expense of the strata corporation, which the strata may pay from the operating fund, contingency fund or issue a special levy to the owners. Each owner is responsible for their personal assets and betterments that have been made to their units. These include upgrades like flooring, kitchen or in suite renovations. Personal contents and upgrades should be added to your home owner insurance.

If the total amount is below the deductible, each owner would be responsible for the repairs to their strata lots.  This is one of the most common occurrences when someone’s toilet or tub overflows. Owners should determine if their home owner policy covers repairs to their strata lot in the event a strata claim is below the deductible amount. Whenever there is water escape of either clean water from a broken pipe or grey water from a tub or toilet, immediately activate restoration services and call the insurance company. In addition to health and safety issues, water left in wall and ceiling cavities will result in long term damages to suites and common areas, especially in wood frame construction. I recommend that all owners, landlords and tenants purchase condo insurance for their personal contents, living out expenses, betterments to strata lots, personal liability, liability for an insurance deductible if you are responsible for a claim, and damages to their suite that may occur under the deductible amount. 

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Review members’ duties at the start of each year

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Review members? duties at the start

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony:

Our strata decided to have an audit done as we have changed management companies several times in the past five years and had a number of outstanding issues brought up by our current management company.

The audit was very helpful as it established definite opening balances for our accounts, and identified a number of receivables that had been lost on the transfer of records from one company to another. Our auditor has recommended that our treasurer and council review the financial transactions each month as several duplicate entries were corrected and there was no indication in our minutes that council had ever reviewed our financial statements.

We also had a debt from a previous owner of a $10,000 insurance deductible that had not been collected. We will be writing off the amount in this year’s fiscal report. As the deductible was expensed from the contingency fund, it will reduce our fund by $10,000. 

As volunteers, our council has always left the financial reporting to the management company, but are there some guidelines we can follow for the duty of the treasurer?  Alice K., Port Moody

Dear Alice:

The roles and responsibilities of council members are set by the strata council. There are no specific job descriptions or obligations in the Strata Property Act or Regulations. 

Every council has members with different experience and strengths and council members are held to a general standard of care as to the behaviour of a volunteer in similar circumstances.

I recommend at the first council meeting each year of newly elected council members, the first item of business is the election of officers followed by a discussion of the duties of each of the council members. 

The role of the treasurer is one of the most demanding positions. While it is beneficial if your treasurer has some experience, knowledge or education in financial operations, any council member with patience and a willingness to commit the time to reviewing monthly invoices, receivables, the financial statements and bank statements, will provide a valuable service for your owners.

With the thousands of transactions management companies process each month, you can anticipate occasional incorrect postings and allocations. Errors are easily corrected. 

To enable the treasurer and council to meet their obligations, they must be provided with a complete set of monthly reports that include a detail of all receivables, a printout of the invoices paid to cross reference with service contracts, utilities, purchases and service calls, a copy of the bank statements for all accounts, including investments and special levies, and a reconciled monthly financial report. These are the essential tools of the treasurer. 

While it is normal to delegate the financial management and collections to the strata manager, it is still the responsibility of the strata council to review the financial documents and transactions. While not exhaustive, here is a checklist of documents and reports to review that are helpful for your treasurer and council: monthly reconciled financial reports; information disclosed on form B information certificates and form F payment certificates; aging summary of all receivables, including fines, user fees, damages and insurance deductibles; cross monitoring of the annual budget compared with expenses; investments for the contingency reserve fund and special levies to maximize returns and manage required cash flows; and a review of the depreciation report to plan for upcoming renewals and funding requirements or resolution planning for general meetings. 

There is one other document that is critical in that it also impacts the annual tax return of the strata corporation. Within eight weeks after the fiscal year end, the strata corporation must prepare a financial statement updated to the end of the fiscal year. This statement is critical because it also sets the closing balances of your accounts for each fiscal year and is vital when conducting an audit or financial review.

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Government recommendations don’t apply to short-term rentals

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

No indications by government to limit short-term rentals

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony:

With the recent recommendations to remove rental bylaws for strata corporations, will this include short-term rentals as well?

Our strata corporation is 88 units and we permit 10 rentals in addition to family rentals, and while we do have two owners requesting to rent their units on a waiting list, we do not have any vacancies in the building. The two owners are investors who have purchased other units, planning on moving and wish to rent their units for short-term rentals.

We just adopted a bylaw that prohibits short-term rentals with a fine of $1,000 per day. Is it possible those new laws are going to change as well? We are also fielding inquiries about the vacancy tax and how this connects to rental bylaws. 

The strata council of the Emerald

Dear Emerald council members:  

There are no plans or indications by government to limit or change a strata corporation’s ability to prohibit short-term rentals as short-term rentals have been a significant cause for loss of rental units in strata buildings. 

If your building is well located, an owner can increase their revenues several times greater if they use their strata lot for short-term rentals as opposed to long-term tenancy. 

The recommendation by the provincial government task force to cancel the application of rental bylaws in strata housing does not apply to short-term rentals at this time. A change to the current legislation will require an amendment to the Strata Property Act and Regulations. This will require an amendment to be first passed by the legislature and then cabinet to approve amendments to the regulations.

There have been many claims that strata properties with rental bylaws contribute to the housing shortage; however, targeted research shows the lowest vacancy rates are actually in strata buildings with rental bylaws.  

The speculation and vacancy tax is designed to target empty homes. If you are an investor/landlord and your strata corporation has a bylaw that restricts rentals, you may be exempt from the tax under the current provisions However, if rental bylaw provisions are repealed, the exemption would be removed and any type of vacant strata lot would be subject to the tax for the regions that apply.  

Once issued in February, all residential property owners in the designated taxable regions must complete an annual declaration for the speculation and vacancy tax or you will automatically be declared taxable. The provincial speculation tax is distinct from the empty homes tax in the City of Vancouver.

 If you are a strata council member, owner, manager or investor, your voice is important.  Go to www.choa.bc.ca and complete a quick survey on strata rental bylaws. For more information on the speculation and vacancy tax, go to www.gov.bc.ca, B.C. speculation and vacancy tax. 

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Condo Smarts: Unit-entitlement errors not uncommon

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Unit-entitlement errors not uncommon

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony:

We live in a large strata corporation with 300 units in multiple buildings. Our strata lots on the strata plan are numbered one to 300 and the unit entitlement is based on the measured areas shown on the plan.

A new owner approached council in December and complained that her unit entitlement was incorrect and she was being overcharged by 12 per cent for her strata fees. Our property manager advised the strata corporation it has no choice but to apply the schedule of unit entitlement registered in the Land Title Registry.

She has responded and advised she believes the schedule the strata corporation and management companies have been using are mixed up because a duplicate unit in the next building has a 12-per-cent lower unit entitlement.

If the same units have different unit entitlements, can we approach the Land Title office and have this corrected?

Paul Renfrew

Dear Paul: 

If there is a correction to the schedule of unit entitlement, the voting rights or the schedule of interest on destruction, that will require a unanimous vote by the owners at a general meeting.

A unanimous resolution is a vote by all the votes of all the eligible voters to vote in favour of the changes. Yes, that would be 300-300 are required to vote in favour.

There is a provision in the act that permits a strata corporation to make a court application to ratify a unanimous vote of five per cent of the owners or less who did not vote in favour of the resolution. It will be difficult to obtain the votes you require for over 300 units as anyone who does not respond or attend the meeting in person or by proxy to vote will automatically be counted as a vote against. However, large strata corporations with proper legal advice and communications have accomplished unanimous votes.

For your strata plan and schedule of units, the owner has a valid complaint. I cross-referenced the schedule your strata corporation has been using since 2002, and she is correct. Someone in the past has mixed up the strata lots and the unit numbers. Owners have been identified by unit number and not strata-lot number connected to their address, and 17 units have been incorrectly mixed up.

It is easy to understand how this occurred because the units are not consecutive building by building. That appears to be the root of the problem. My recommendation is to immediately correct the strata plan unit entitlement for this fiscal year as it relates to each strata lot and unit number and talk to your lawyer about the possible consequences and remedies.

Errors in unit entitlement occur frequently. New owners, changing strata councils, new property managers and property-management companies often expose errors that have been historic. 

No one gets to make up the unit entitlement or change the calculations through a bylaw amendment or decision of council. You must use the schedule of unit entitlement or any amendments filed in the Land Title Registry.   

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