CHOA Condo Smarts: Who Controls Common Property?

We came across this Condo Smarts post by Tony Gioventu from Condominium Home Owners’ Association of British Columbia that highlights the limits of a strata lot owner’s right to alter common property without permission of the strata council. Read the full article below to learn more about consequences to unauthorized modification of common property, such as adding new plants or attaching items to the exterior of buildings. 

Dear Tony:

When I bought my home in 2005, I was told by the seller, who was the president of council at the time, I was responsible for my limited common property garden areas around my patio. I have a 2 bedroom ground floor unit adjacent to green space in North Vancouver and the patio area is a significant part of my lifestyle. As a result of our deprecation report and a building inspection, the strata council have recently approached me and advised I had to remove the pond I
had installed and that three trees that I had planted were going to either have to be removed or at least pruned significantly to avoid damages to our building. I am refusing to remove any of the additions that I have made to the area as it adds so much value to my home. Surely I can keep these alterations as they have been there since 2005 and I have always paid for their upkeep?

Continue reading here

Read More From Condominium Home Owners’ Association of British Columbia.

CHOA Condo Smarts: Phased Developments

We came across this Condo Smarts post by Tony Gioventu from Condominium Home Owners’ Association of British Columbia that highlights important considerations regarding replacing assets of phased developments. Read the full article below to learn more.

Dear Tony:

In March we bought a townhouse on Vancouver Island in a new development. We requested the normal documents and forms that are recommended by the realtors, but we overlooked one significant issue. The strata is a phased development. There are actually 8 phases to our development, and we purchased in the 7th phase which had already been sold by the developer in 2014. Our strata had a town hall meeting last week to talk about major construction that is coming up for the first phase of the development. The first phase is 8 years old and requires a new roof. Turns out there was a design/installation defect to the original roof, and it needs to be replaced before winter at a cost of $126,000. The construction doesn’t bother us, but we’re embarrassed that we didn’t realize this was a phased strata plan, nor did we understand the impact of buying into a phased plan and how that could impact us financially. We are both retired professionals and did everything right and still managed to be exposed. Is there any way of easily finding out if a strata is a phased plan?

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Read More From Condominium Home Owners’ Association of British Columbia.

 

CHOA Condo Smarts: No Construction Approval for Needed Repairs

Dear Tony:  How does a strata corporation get a project to move forward when the owners keep voting against it?

Our strata is a 88 unit townhouse complex in the lower mainland that was built in the 80’s.  It is a typical design of 2 and 3 bedroom units, sloped roofing and wood siding.

Our owners have always kept strata fees extremely low, and as a result we have sadly neglected our buildings.  A neighbouring property identical to ours have paid higher strata fees, maintained their properties and are not facing any crisis.  Our property is not located in an area that is desirable for development, so we have no choice but to maintain our units and dig deep to pay for some major repairs.  We now have some serious leaks to our roofing and several locations where the wood cladding has literally fallen off the buildings.  Even with these serious problems, owners are still voting against the repairs.  We are desperate for some ideas on how to move forward as we cannot seem to get more than 65% of the owners to approve.

Continue Reading Here

Read More From Condominium Home Owners’ Association of British Columbia.

B.C. Lab’s Metallic Glass Creates Potential For Smart Windows

A B.C. engineering lab has created metal-coated glass that transmits up to 10 per cent more light than conventional glass and opens the door to windows that function as electronics.

The most immediate use of the technology is to create windows that can be programmed to absorb or reflect heat, depending on the needs of a building’s occupants, said lead investigator Kenneth Chau, a professor at the University of British Columbia Okanagan.

Films like Iron Man and Star Trek provide scientists with inspiration for scientific progress, he said.

“There is a dream that we can make glass smarter,” he said. “These films give us concepts to strive for; the hard work is uncovering the science to make it happen.”

Read More Here

Cameron Carter, President of Normac, Nominated for Industry Award

We are proud to say that Cameron Carter was nominated for a PAMA award as an “Industry Contributor of the Year”. He was nominated because he displays integrity, reliability, commitment to the industry, loyalty to consumer clients and the ability to interact well with Industry Members, Property Managers, Service Providers and other Industry Professionals.

BC Launches a New Strata Housing Website

Depreciation Reports - Normac

Main page:  www.gov.bc.ca/strata
Find it Fast page:  www.gov.bc.ca/strata/finditfast  (topics are listed as clickable links)

HELPFUL STARTING POINT
The website provides basic information about certain parts of the Strata Property Act, regulations and Standard Bylaws as a helpful starting point for strata owners, residents, and strata council members.  While the focus is on strata housing, strata legislation applies to all strata corporations.  It is important to note that the website is not a substitute for getting legal advice; it does not provide a legal interpretation of the Strata Property Act, regulations, bylaws and rules or court cases and how the courts have interpreted the legislative framework.

NEW FEATURES

  • The website uses more plain language and more examples.
  • It uses the new government template which is mobile friendly.
  • It has new content and expanded content including:
    • Changes to Legislation
    • Insurance
    • The Role of Government
    • Living in a Strata
    • Bylaws and Rules Explained
    • Buying and Selling Strata” including “First Time Strata Owners

This site also provides links and references to other strata resources including:

  • Strata Associations”: CHOA, VISOA and CCI
  • Getting Legal Advice
  • Strata Legislation” with links to legislation and options for getting printed copies

Click HERE to visit the new strata housing website.

 

In the News – Vancouver Issues Record Number of Building Permits

Depreciation Report - Normac
Vancouver Sun Article:  Vancouver Issues record number of building permits worth $1.12 billion in first half of 2014
By Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun  
July 18, 2014
The value of buildings for which Vancouver issued building permits hit a record in the first half of 2014, for a total value of $1.12 billion, the highest amount since the 2008 recession. And it appear on target to exceed the record year of 2012, when permits worth $2.6 billion in building values were issued.

In a statement Friday the city said that this is the third year in a row that construction values have exceeded a billion dollars in the first half of the year. The values in the first half of 2014 are up 6.7 per cent over the same period last year.

The statement is the civic bureaucracy’s acknowledgment of something that most drivers and residents already know, that developers are hustling all over the city with major developments that will bring thousands of more residents to Vancouver.

The city said some of the major developments in 2014 that have added to the city skyline include Concord Pacific’s two-tower, 435-unit One Pacific, valued at $87 million, and Bosa Blue Sky Properties’ 195-unit rental building on Main Street at East Georgia, valued at $27 million.

According to the city, the following building permit values are for the first 6 months of each year; numbers in brackets are annual figures:

– 2014: $1.12 billion

– 2013: $1.05 billion ($2.2 billion)

– 2012: $1.03 billion ($2.6 billion)

– 2011: $768.7 million ($1.7 billion)

– 2010: $653.0 million ($1.5 billion)

– 2009: $373.9 million ($1.3 billion)

– 2008: $924.9 million ($1.6 billion)

There is no indication how much money the city took in for building permit fees. The numbers cited represent the buildings’ value for construction purposes.

jefflee@vancouversun.com © Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

What are Sectioned Stratas?

Content by the Real Estate Council of British Columbia.  To view the original post, click here.  

Although the Real Estate Council does not enforce the Strata Property Act (the “SPA”), to appreciate how the requirements of RESA and the Council Rules apply to strata corporations with sections, it is helpful to understand the provisions of the SPA that govern the creation of sections.

Creation of Sections

The SPA permits the creation of sections in order that the different interests of owners of residential and non-residential strata lots, owners of non-residential strata lots used for different purposes, and owners of apartment style, townhouse style or detached strata lots may be represented. Sections are created by bylaws established by the developer at the time the strata plan is filed, or subsequently by an amendment to the bylaws approved by a 3/4 vote of each of the groups of strata lots intending to form a section and a 3/4 vote of the strata corporation.

Notwithstanding the creation of sections, the strata corporation retains its powers and duties in matters of common interest to all owners. Thus, even if sections are created, the strata corporation continues to exist and is required to function in the same manner as any other strata corporation by holding general meetings, electing a strata council, approving a budget, and collecting strata fees for those expenses that are common to all strata lots. The items for which a strata corporation will be responsible and for which it must collect strata fees will vary depending on the structure of the development, however, at a minimum, the strata corporation will be responsible for obtaining insurance as required by SPA and collecting strata fees to pay the insurance premium.

Powers and Duties of a Section

The SPA provides that once created, a section is a corporation and has the same powers and duties as the strata corporation in respect of matters that relate solely to the section. As a result of this provision, once the bylaws creating sections are filed in the land title office, each section identified in the bylaws is a separate corporation. Thus, each section is a separate legal entity. The fact that each section is a corporation and thus a legal entity, is extremely significant. Because each section is a separate legal entity, the section is equivalent to a strata corporation in respect of matters that relate solely to the section as set out in section 194 of SPA. Sections are often referred to as “mini” strata corporations. The SPA sets out that a section has the power and duty to:

  • Establish its own operating fund and contingency reserve fund for common expenses of the section
  • Budget and require section owners to pay strata fees and special levies for expenditures the section authorizes
  • Sue or arbitrate in the name of the section
  • Enter into contracts in the name of the section
  • Acquire and dispose of land in the name of the section
  • Enforce bylaws and rules

Once a section is created, the SPA contemplates that the section will operate independently of the strata corporation. The section must establish a budget for expenses the section authorizes and must establish its own operating and contingency reserve fund.

Administration of a Section

The SPA provides that the eligible voters of a section may call and hold meetings and pass resolutions in the same manner as the eligible voters of the strata corporation. This provision is further evidence that a section is to operate as a “mini” strata corporation.

The SPA also provides that each section must elect an executive for the section. The executive has the same powers and duties with respect to the section as the strata council has with respect to the strata corporation.

Practical Effect on Governance

Once bylaws have been filed creating sections, each section is a legal entity. Each section must hold (or waive) an annual general meeting to elect an executive and to approve a budget for the common expenses of the section that are authorized by the section.

Although it is often common practice for strata corporations with sections to have one AGM for the strata corporation, and for the budget approved by the strata corporation to contain expenses for the sections, such a practice does not conform to the SPA. To comply with the SPA each of the strata corporation and sections must hold (or waive) the AGM at which time the budget for the legal entity that called the meeting must be approved and a strata council or executive, as appropriate, must be elected.

The Real Estate Council of British Columbia (Council) is a regulatory agency established by the provincial government in 1958. Its mandate is to protect the public interest by enforcing the licensing and licensee conduct requirements of the Real Estate Services Act. The Council is responsible for licensing individuals and brokerages engaged in real estate sales, rental and strata property management. The Council also enforces entry qualifications, investigates complaints against licensees and imposes disciplinary sanctions under the Act. Visit www.recbc.ca for more information.  

Do you live in a sectioned strata that requires a Depreciation Report?   Click here to request a free, no-obligation proposal from Normac.  

Can One Small Group of Owners Block the Strata from Selling?

In British Columbia, an estimated quarter of the population lives in jointly owned housing. With the province’s older condominium developments approaching the 50 year old mark, there has been increasing contention surrounding the BC Strata Property Act’s requirement that 100% of owners agree to the sale. A recent decision by a Supreme Court Judge highlights how BC’s legislation may be revisted in the near future.

Shared property owners in North Vancouver can force sale, B.C. Supreme Court rules
Content By Frances Bula, The Globe and Mail. To read the article as it originally appeared in The Globe and Mail, click here.

A Supreme Court judge has ruled that a majority of owners in a strata-type project in North Vancouver can ask for a sale of the whole property, even if a minority says the sale will force them out of the only affordable homes in their neighbourhood.

That adds one more decision to an increasingly contentious issue in British Columbia – how to deal with jointly owned properties in a province where a quarter of the population lives in collectively owned housing, largely stratas.

The issue is so thorny and prevalent that the B.C. Law Institute is working on a research project to look at how to improve the law in B.C. for dissolving strata corporations.

Lawyers for both groups at Seymour Estates, near Capilano University, say the decision by Supreme Court Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon put conditions on the order that require the final sale price and buyer to be approved by the court.

But the door is still firmly opened for 87 owners in the 114-unit project, who have been courted by Darwin Construction Ltd. of North Vancouver the last three years, to sell the entire seven-acre parcel. Seymour Estates, built in 1970, is not a strata under current B.C. law, but has an ownership model similar to a strata.

The court ruling is an important decision because it makes it clear that one small group of owners cannot block everyone else from selling, said Peter Roberts, the lawyer who acted for the pro-sale group.

John Whyte, who represented the small group of owners resisting, said the ruling Friday by the judge drew an “audible gasp” from the standing-room-only crowd.

For his clients, he said, “it was really their only option into the market in this neighbourhood.”

He and his clients are hopeful about Justice Fenlon’s conditions, which are meant to ensure the owners get the best possible price. That price will be scrutinized in the second legal round, to determine the impact for existing owners, Mr. Whyte said.

“Then we will know if people will be dislocated. They can compare that number for what they could buy in the area.”

Many residents in the complex didn’t want to speak publicly about where they stand on the issue. But some said they felt many owners didn’t understand that the Darwin offer was not the best deal they could get.

Darwin confirmed it is offering owners about 30 per cent more than they could get on the market right now. But if Darwin is successful in getting the land rezoned, the property will be worth significantly more than that. The area is slated for increased density, according to the District of North Vancouver’s official community plan.

One resident, however, said she’ll be happy to sell and get out.

“These are really nice places but everything is going wrong with them,” said Susan Watson, who has lived at Seymour Estates for 18 years. “If we stay, we’re going to be hit with a huge special levy. There’s plumbing trucks here every day.”

The dilemma of selling jointly owned properties has been rising to the surface, as the province’s older condos and jointly owned properties approach the 50-year mark and as builders hunt for low-density tracts near transit that they can redevelop.

The current B.C. Strata Property Act says that a strata-owned property can only be sold as a whole if 100 per cent of the owners agree.

“It’s very difficult to get to that point,” said Kevin Zakreski, the staff lawyer with the B.C. Law Institute working on the project to find a better mechanism.

At the moment, if there is anything less than unanimity, the group of owners wanting to sell have to go to court to try to get a sale ordered – an expensive, time-consuming procedure.

Two years ago, a group from an older North Van project, Cypress Gardens, tried to get a sale ordered, but were turned down because the judge said they didn’t represent a majority and they’d create too much hardship for those who didn’t want to sell.

Mr. Zakreski said B.C.’s rules are more onerous than those of other provinces, which typically allow a sale to be completed by the strata council if around 80 per cent of owners agree.

The law-institute project is going to go out for public consultation later this year.

Useful Links:
BC Strata Property Act