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About the Law of Buying or Selling a Condominium in BC

 After years of saving, you've finally saved enough to put a down payment on a home. You enjoy apartment living and some of the condominiums around town seem really attractive. Before you break open your piggy-bank, you probably have a few questions:

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What is a condominium?

A condominium is a building which has been legally subdivided, so that different people can own different units in the building. There are parts which are specifically owned by you, and parts which are shared by all the owners; the latter is called "common property", and can include the hallways, stairs, recreation centre and so on.

Condominiums in BC are created by the Strata Titles Act, and are regulated by that act. In this section, sometimes we'll call condominiums, "strata units".

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Limited common property

Limited common property is property that is owned by the strata corporation (ie all of the owners), but is for a specific owner's use.  Balconies and parking stalls are often limited common property, because the strata council wants to be able to regulate the use of them (for example, not having dirty laundry hanging outside), even though they are for the use of specific owners.

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Who runs the condominium?

The condominium is managed and the activities of the people are regulated by three main things:

Strata corporation

The strata corporation has the responsibility for the overall management of the condominium, and is owned by all the owners of the strata units. In fact, the name is usually something like "The Owners, Strata Plan VR 999". It has the responsibility to insure the building, keep the common areas in good repair, establish a contingency fund for emergencies, and in general, manage the building. It prepares the annual budget for the building.

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Strata council

Each year, the owners elect members to the Strata Council, which then manages the affairs of the strata corporation. They meet on a regular basis and handle the daily activities of the strata corporation.

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Management company

If there are just 2 to 5 units, the owners may manage the building themselves, to save money. If there are more units, however, the strata corporation will often hire a management company or a caretaker to assist the strata council in running the condominium. The cost of this is borne by all the owners, and is paid for through the maintenance fees.

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By-laws and regulations

The by-laws and regulations are the specific rules laid down by the strata corporation regarding the management of the condominium and its occupants.

By-laws are the official "laws" of the condominium, and can cover a broad range of topics including the structure and powers of the strata council and the activities of the owners within their individual strata units. Because by-laws are so powerful, any changes must be approved by a meeting where all of the strata unit owners are entitled to vote.

Regulations are rules which only affect the enjoyment, cleanliness and safety of the common areas, and can be enacted by the strata council, without a meeting of the strata unit owners.

By-laws and regulations may cover a great number of topics. Some common by-laws or regulations may include:
  • No pets
  • No rentals
  • No smoking
  • No alcohol in recreational area
  • No tracking mud or dirt in lobby
  • The amount of fines to be imposed for infractions
  • No excessive noise past 11 p.m. on week nights
  • No barbequing on sundecks or patios
  • No storing of furniture on sundecks or patios
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More questions?

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Legal disclaimer:  The information provided on Lawyers-BC.Com is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues commonly encountered. Your access to and use of this Web site is subject to additional terms and conditions.

This page last updated: 2003/08/27
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