Strata Law

We provide assistance to strata corporations and individual owners alike, with respect to matters related to operating and living in a strata corporation.

Strata corporations routinely seek our help with drafting, interpreting and enforcing bylaws; whether those be with respect to repair and maintenance obligations, the proper expenditure of monies or the behaviour of owners, or tenants and occupants within the strata corporation. At times, that process involves the preparation of materials to be filed with the Civil Resolution Tribunal. We also assist in the collection of unpaid strata fees, chargebacks (such as deductibles) and fines. Our assistance also extends to reviewing construction contracts and assisting with warranty claims.

Owners come to us for help when they believe the strata corporation is not meeting its obligations under the bylaws or the Strata Property Act or is wrongly accusing them of breaching the bylaws. We are able to provide advice and guidance, and are often retained to communicate with the strata corporation in an attempt to resolve the matter; failing which, we are able to assist those owners in navigating through the Civil Resolution Tribunal process.

About Strata Law

We want to sell our strata to a developer. What do we need to do?

Under the Strata Property Act (“SPA”),  a strata corporation can be wound up and sold with approval by way of a vote in favour of doing so by at least 80% of the owners. Once approved, that resolution must be approval by the court. Before entering into any sort of agreement or preparing the extensive information required for a winding up resolution, the interest of the owners should be gauged. That can be done by a majority vote resolution pursuant to section 27 of the SPA directing the council to enter into a listing agreement (with any offers subject to the approval of the owners and the court. A strata lawyer will be able to assist with all aspects of this process.

My neighbour’s smoking/loud music is disrupting the enjoyment of my apartment, and strata corporation is not helping. How can I address deal with this?

The bylaws of a strata corporation regulate the conduct of its occupants in order to create an environment in which everyone can live comfortably.   Two bylaws in particular are useful when dealing with owners whose smoking or loud music is an issue for their neighbours.Standard Bylaw 3(1)(a) prohibits someone from using their strata lot or the common property in a way that causes a nuisance or a hazard to someone else. Standard Bylaw 3(1)(c) prohibits someone from using their strata lot or the common property in a way that unreasonably interferes with another person’s use and enjoyment of their strata lot or the common property.  A strata corporation can respond to bylaw contravention in various ways – with a letter, fines, or seeking an order that the owner or tenant comply with the bylaws. Should the strata council fail in its duty to enforce the bylaws, an owner, tenant or interested person can apply to the Civil Resolution Tribunal (“CRT”), pursuant to section 189.1 of the SPA, for an order that the strata corporation fulfill its duty under section 26 of the SPA to enforce the bylaws. A lawyer can assist you with that process.

My balcony/roof/window leaked causing damage to my drywall and flooring. Is the strata corporation responsible for repairing the damage?

While the strata corporation is responsible to insure a strata lot as originally built, it is not responsible to repair it. If the damage to the strata lot is not covered by insurance, it will generally be the owner’s responsibility under Standard Bylaw 2(1), to repair; even if the damage comes from the common property.  While a strata corporation is responsible for repairing and maintaining common property and common assets under section 72 of the SPA (as well as things such as windows and balconies under Standard Bylaw 8) it is only if the leak was a result of the strata corporation’s breach of its duty to repair and maintain the common or limited common property, that an owner may have some recourse against the strata corporation; otherwise the associated damage to the drywall and flooring are not the responsibility of the strata corporation. These situations can be complex and speaking to a lawyer may help bring clarity to your situation.

I have a dog and my strata council is considering a new bylaw that would ban pets in the building. Can strata retroactively ban dogs? Would that affect me?

It is common for strata corporations to restrict or prohibit pets. For example, Standard Bylaw 3(4) provides that an owner, tenant or occupant must not keep any pets on a strata lot other than one or more of the following: a reasonable number of fish or other small aquarium animals, a reasonable number of small caged mammals, up to two caged birds, or one dog or one cat. Although this bylaw can be repealed and replaced by a strata corporation, an amended bylaw may still ban or further limit the type or number of pets that can be kept by owners, tenants, or other occupants. It is important to note that there is a ‘grandfathering exemption’ under section 123 of the SPA for pets that are living in a strata lot with an owner, tenant or occupant at the time that the bylaw is passed – this means that a strata corporation cannot retroactively ban pets. A second exemption exists for guide dogs and service dogs; pet bylaws banning or limiting the number or type of pets do not apply to animals officially recognized under the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act. If you are having pet issues, as an owner or otherwise, contact a lawyer today to clarify your rights.

I don't want to sell my condo. Can I rent it out?

Many strata corporations have bylaws restricting or preventing owners from renting out their strata lots. Nevertheless, there are certain exceptions to those bylaws. Under section 139 of the SPA certain  strata lot owners may rent to the date set out on the Rental Disclosure Statement (“RDS”) despite a bylaw to the contrary. Who those owners are depends on when the RDS was filed. Section 142(2) of the SPA allows an owner to rent a strata lot to a family member even if there is a bylaw limiting or prohibiting rentals. However, the concepts of “family” and “family member” are narrowly defined in Regulation 8.1 of the SPA to include a spouse of the owner, a parent or child of the owner, or a parent or child of the spouse of the owner. The decision to rent to a family member is significant, because as soon as the owner rents the strata lot to their family member they lose a number of the rights associated with ownership, most notably the right to attend general meetings and vote. For an owner living in a strata corporation which does not permit rentals and who does not qualify for an RDS or family member exemption, it is possible to request permission to rent on the basis of hardship under section 144 of the SPA. Owners must sufficiently detail the hardship in a written application, prove its existence and that it cannot be avoided, and generally show an attempt to sell the unit prior to applying for the hardship application. A strata corporation cannot unreasonably refuse a request, but the case law sets a high threshold for being obliged to grant this exemption. A lawyer will be best able to explain your options, and to help you in reaching a satisfactory conclusion.