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British Columbia CONDO FACT SHEET

Before you buy a condominium, it’s important that you be familiar with how laws related to condominiums work in your province or territory. (BRITISH COLUMBIA)

British Columbia Fact Sheet

Governing Legislation

What legislation and regulations govern strata corporations in British Columbia?

Warranty Programs

Do provincial legislation and/or regulations require that developers of new strata provide a new home warranty to buyers?

Yes. The Homeowner Protection Act and Homeowner Protection Act Regulation generally require developers to provide one through an authorized home warranty insurance provider.

Taxes & Additional Costs

What provincial and federal taxes do strata buyers pay on their units?

Buyers must pay the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on new strata where the tax becomes payable after March 31, 2013, but generally do not pay the GST on previously owned units that were used as a place of residence. In addition to the GST, buyers may also have to pay the 2% B.C. transition tax. For more information on the B.C. transition tax, see the Canada Revenue Agency publication GST/HST Info Sheet GI-156, Elimination of the Harmonized Sales Tax in British Columbia: British Columbia Transition Tax on New Housing.

There is no GST on most residential strata fees. There is no provincial sales tax (PST) on the purchase of real property including strata units.  There is no PST on strata fees.

Buyer Beware: If you are purchasing a re-sale strata, the GST will generally apply to your purchase if:

  • You are buying the unit from someone who acquired and used the unit primarily (more than 50 percent) for business purposes (unless this was to earn long-term rental income);
  • You are buying the unit from someone who has claimed input tax credits on the purchase of the unit or improvements to it; or
  • The unit has been substantially renovated. To find out what qualifies as a substantial renovation, see the Canada Revenue Agency guide RC4028, GST/HST New Housing Rebate.

Be sure to enquire about the above before putting an offer on a re-sale strata.

Are there any GST rebate programs for strata buyers?

Strata buyers may be eligible for a GST/HST New Housing Rebate for a portion of the GST paid on the purchase of a strata. This rebate is payable on a declining scale, depending on the purchase price of your new home. For eligibility information, see the Canada Revenue Agency guide RC4028, GST/HST New Housing Rebate.

Are buyers of new and re-sale strata responsible for any charges levied by the Province?

Yes, the Property Transfer Tax. This tax is calculated on the value of a home:

  • If the fair market value of a strata is $200,000 or less, the property transfer tax is 1 percent of the strata’s fair market value.
  • If the fair market value of a strata is greater than $200,000, the property transfer tax is 1 percent of the strata’s fair market value up to $200,000, plus 2 percent on the portion of the strata’s fair market value that is greater than $200,000.

Reserve Fund Requirements

Do provincial legislation/regulations require that all strata corporations in B.C. have a reserve fund?

Yes. There must be a minimum balance of 25% of the operating fund for the fiscal year. If the amount in the fund is less, the strata corporation must contribute at least 10% of the total contribution to the operating fund for the current year until the 25% minimum is reached.

Condominium Registration

How is a new strata corporation registered?

  • Identify where their strata lot is located in relation to other strata lots and to common property;
  • Confirm that the strata lot they are purchasing is properly identified on the strata plan.

The owner developer may also change the Standard Bylaws or create new bylaws at this time.     

Sale of Units

What rules does the developer have to follow when selling units?

Developers are governed by the Real Estate Development Marketing Act. Under this act, developers of a strata development (of five or more condominium units that are not bare land lots) must file a disclosure statement with the Superintendant of Real Estate before marketing a unit.

The disclosure statement includes a wealth of information such as:

  • the project’s common property features and amenities;
  • whether the development will be constructed in phases;
  • the allocation of voting rights;
  • parking arrangements;
  • furnishings and equipment that are included in each unit;
  • an estimated operating budget; and
  • construction or equipment warranties.

The Standard Bylaws under the Strata Property Act contain the following provisions:

  • An owner developer who has an unsold strata lot may carry on sales functions that relate to its sale, including the posting of signs; and
  • An owner developer may use a strata lot that the owner developer owns or rents, as a display lot for the sale of other strata lots in the strata plan.

What documents is the developer obliged to provide to a buyer?

The disclosure statement for the property ( See Amended Policy Statements by the Superintendent of Real Estate for links to current Disclosure Statement Requirements)

Buyers have a seven-day “cooling off” period from the time they either:

  • receive a copy of a signed purchase contract; or
  • acknowledge receiving a disclosure statement, whichever comes first.

At the end of this period they must finalize the sale or withdraw their offer.

What documents must the strata corporation provide a purchaser of a re-sale strata lot?

A purchaser can request the Information Certificate, called “Form B.” The strata corporation must provide Form B within a week of the request.

Form B includes a host of information about the unit that is for sale and the corporation. For a complete list of what Form B must disclose, see Information Certificates. (PDF)

Copies of the following must be attached to Form B:

  • the rules of the strata corporation;
  • the current budget of the strata corporation;
  • the owner developer's Rental Disclosure Statement, if one was filed;
  • the most recent depreciation report, if any; and
  • other information, as required.

A purchaser is also entitled to a Certificate of Payment, known as “Form F,” and must receive it from the strata corporation within a week of requesting it.

Form F certifies that the current owner:

  • does not owe money to the strata corporation; or
  • owes money but (1) the money claimed by the strata corporation has been paid into court, or to the strata corporation in trust, or (2) satisfactory arrangements have been made to pay the money owing.

Estimating Operating Costs

Are there legislation/regulations that stipulate(s) what happens if a developer has inaccurately estimated the operational costs of a strata?

Yes. If the strata’s actual expenses are more than what the developer estimated for the strata’s interim budget, the developer must pay the difference within eight weeks after the strata corporation’s first annual general meeting.

Rules for Initial Reserve Fund Savings

Is the developer of a new strata obligated to put aside reserves as soon as the strata is registered?

No. An owner developer must establish and make a minimum contribution to a contingency reserve fund when he or she transfers ownership of the project’s first strata lot. The developer would only be required to put aside reserves on registration if that were to coincide with the transfer of ownership of the project’s first strata lot.

Governance Requirements

Does the Province require a strata corporation to impose any bylaws and rules?

The Strata Property Act requires every strata corporation to have bylaws.

Although Standard Bylaws exist, strata corporations can choose to create their own bylaws and rules. Rules must not govern the use of strata lots, which are governed by bylaws.

Does strata legislation authorize the strata corporation to borrow money?

Yes, a strata corporation may borrow money provided it has at least a ¾ vote of eligible voters attending an annual or general meeting.

Can a strata corporation place a lien on an individual unit?

Yes. This is typically for unpaid monthly common expenses or special levies. A lien takes priority over a mortgage.

Elections & Meetings

What are the requirements for electing the strata council and for its meetings?

The number of people who sit on the strata council is determined by the strata’s bylaws. Council members are elected from:

  • current owners (unless the strata corporation has a lien against the owner’s strata lot and a bylaw allows this restriction);
  • representatives of corporate owners;
  • tenants who have been assigned an owner’s right to stand for council; and
  • other individuals, such as spouses or children (if a bylaw permits this).

If a strata lot is owned by more than one person, only one owner of the strata lot may be a council member at any one time, unless all strata owners are on the council. If a strata lot is owned by a corporation, only one representative of the corporation may be a council member at any one time with respect to that lot. If all strata owners are on the council, each strata lot has one vote at council meetings.

Details about strata council meetings are set out in a strata corporation’s bylaws.

Changing the Governing Documents

How does a strata corporation change its governing documents?

Strata plans are normally amended by a unanimous vote or by court order. Bylaws are amended by a ¾ vote of eligible voters attending an annual or general meeting.

Making Payments

Can an owner stop paying strata fees if he/she is unhappy with the strata’s board of directors and/or property management?

No.

Rules About Special Assessments

Do provincial legislation/regulations have rules regarding special assessments? If so, what are they?

Yes. Owners decide at a general meeting whether or not to charge a special levy. For a special levy to be approved, there must be:

  • a ¾ vote of eligible voters attending an annual meeting if contributions to the levy are calculated in the same way as strata fees are calculated; or
  • a unanimous vote if contributions to the levy are calculated in a way different from the way strata fees are calculated.

Expanding the Scope of the Strata's Assets and Services

What about additional recreational facilities/services? Could a strata corporation buy a golf course, for example? Could it change the services an owner expects to receive?

A strata corporation can acquire land if a resolution is passed by a ¾ vote of eligible voters attending an annual or general meeting.

It may also make a significant change to the use or appearance of common property or land that is a significant asset if there are reasonable grounds to believe that immediate change is necessary to ensure safety or prevent significant loss or damage. Otherwise, significant changes must first be approved by at least a ¾ vote of eligible voters attending an annual or general meeting.

Other Important Things About Buying a Strata in British Columbia

Do provincial legislation/regulations govern renting or leasing a strata lot?

Yes, the Strata Property Act covers both the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants in strata property.

Some strata corporations have rental limitation bylaws, and owners in such corporations may have to apply for permission to rent.

An owner who rents out his or her strata lot must provide the name of the tenant to the strata corporation within two weeks of renting all or part of the strata lot.

As well, landlords must give tenants a copy of the strata corporation’s bylaws and rules.

As with any tenancy agreement in the province, landlords and tenants are typically governed by the Residential Tenancy Act. If a tenant repeatedly violates certain bylaws or rules, the strata corporation may be able to force the eviction of the tenant through the owner or via court order.

For information on landlords’ and tenants’ rights and responsibilities in British Columbia, see Your Guide to Renting a Home,  Provincial Fact Sheet — British Columbia and the BC Government information on Residential Residential Tenancies.

What other constraints do provincial legislation/regulations put on strata corporations, their boards of directors, bylaws and management?

  • Consumer protection legislation applies.
  • Strata council members must act honestly, in good faith and in the best interest of all owners. They must also announce any possible conflicts of interest and recuse themselves from participating/voting in such situations.
  • Bylaws are to be enforced in a fair and unbiased manner.
  • The Real Estate Services Act governs strata managers in the performance of their duties.

Is there a process for handling disputes or complaints?

Strata lot owners can try to resolve disputes informally by calling a general meeting of owners to discuss the problems.

If a strata is governed by the Standard Bylaws as defined in Strata Property Act,

  • a dispute resolution committee may be used to resolve disagreements if all parties involved in the dispute agree to this; or
  • an owner or tenant can request a meeting with the strata council to discuss concerns.

If the problem persists, owners and/or strata corporations can currently take the issue to:

  • arbitration;
  • Provincial Court (Small Claims Court) for a limited range of claims; or
  • the B.C. Supreme Court.

A new collaborative dispute resolution model for strata properties has been introduced as part of the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act. The Tribunal will do most of its work online and will have authority to hear many strata property disputes. It is anticipated the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act will come fully into force and the tribunal will begin operations in 2015.

Resources

The Government of BC has a new strata housing website (Feb 2015) with information for strata owners, strata residents and strata council members. This website provides basic information on: living in a strata, different kinds of strata, operating a strata (roles and responsibilities for strata owners, strata council members and strata managers; meetings and voting; bylaws & rules; finances & insurance; repairs & maintenance including depreciation reports) resolving strata disputes, renting in a strata, the role of government, strata legislation, legislative updates and additional help and support including strata associations.

For questions about the Strata Property Act that are not answered by the guides, you may wish to contact one of the following Strata Owners' Associations or a lawyer.

Condominium Home Owners Association (CHOA):
A non-profit association that promotes the understanding of strata property living and the interests of strata property owners by providing advisory services, education, advocacy, publications and resources and support for its members.
www.choa.bc.ca

Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association (VISOA):
An independent, non-profit, membership organization that provides services to all stratas in BC.
www.visoa.bc.ca/?page_id=131

Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI), Vancouver Chapter:
An independent organization that deals exclusively with condominium issues and represents all participants in the condominium community.
http://www.ccivancouver.ca/about/contact-us/

Lawyer Referral Service available through the Canadian Bar Association:
Lets you consult a lawyer on a single issue for up to 30 minutes for a fee of $25 plus tax. 
cbabc.org/For-the-Public/Lawyer-Referral-Service

Homeowner Protection Office:
A branch of BC Housing that provides consumer protection information for homeowners.
Homeowner Protection Office
Branch of BC Housing
Suite 650 – 4789 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC  V5H 0A3
Toll-free in Canada: 1-800-407-7757
Telephone: 604-646-7050
Toll-free fax: 1-877-476-6657
Fax: 604-646-7051
Email: hpo@hpo.bc.ca
www.hpo.bc.ca/contact-us

Other Acts and Statutes


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