If you’re in the market for a duplex or triplex, I’m sure you’ve heard that it was self managed and maybe a “Non Conforming Strata”. I want to correct a misconception. These Strata’s might be non compliant with the Strata Property Act in certain ways, but they aren’t *allowed* to be non compliant. These Strata’s are still required to follow the Strata Property Act Regulations and Bylaws – many of them choose not to be, which can lead to issues (in the same vein as “it’s never a problem until it’s a problem”). Helpful CHOA Article: https://www.choa.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/800-243-02092016-Duplex-Woes.pdf
Duplexes, triplexes and other small Strata’s are considered non conforming when they don’t hold regular meetings, don’t have record of meeting minutes, don’t hold a Contingency Fund, don’t have a yearly budget, don’t have a shared Strata bank account, don’t maintain financial records and don’t amend Bylaws. How do they operate? These Strata’s are all a bit different since the owners can dictate the style of management. I find a lot of decisions are made via email and informal meetings. This is a common occurrence in self managed strata’s, though some self managed strata’s follow BC Strata Property Act protocol.
The Strata is still responsible for any common property and required maintenance to the common property. Common property includes the exterior and any common pipes/venting running between walls. Costs are shared between owners if regular maintenance is needed on common property.
All owners should agree in writing of the cost, company and other pertinent details related to common Strata maintenance. This need for agreement is why you hope all owners are of a similar mindset. Owners need to agree on regular maintenance every year: gardening, gutter cleaning, roof evaluations and maintenance, exterior maintenance, etc. Owners also need to agree on major projects, including roof replacement, exterior painting, new windows, etc. If the home needs maintenance and an owner isn’t willing to pay for it, you’ll likely have to gather proof that the maintenance is needed or pay for it if it’s an necessary repair, and then take the issue to the Civil Rights Tribunal (CRT) to recoup your money or force the repair – an annoying and potentially costly situation. Helpful CHOA Article about forcing needed maintenance: https://www.choa.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/800-260-12012017-How-do-we-get-our-Roof-Fixed.pdf
The Strata is also responsible to ensure there is an up to date Strata Insurance Policy on the common property. Every owner should also have personal insurance to cover their contents, updates, accidents, etc. Helpful CHOA Article: https://www.choa.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/pdf/300/300-335_062109_Duplex_insurance.pdf
All maintenance and common Strata costs should be split based on the Unit Entitlement. The Unit Entitlement is a calculation found on the registered Strata Plan. It dictates each unit’s ownership of the complex based on unit size. For example, duplex costs are not shared 50/50. They are shared based on the Unit Entitlement (for example, it may be a 55/45 ownership split).
Required maintenance and project costs are out of pocket costs if there is no Budget or Contingency Fund.
These small, non conforming Strata’s don’t often follow the standard BC Strata Property Act Bylaws. But they should. All Strata Properties are required to follow the BC Strata Property Act Bylaws. Legal amendments are required when Owners choose to operate outside of these Standard Bylaws.
For example, the Standard Property Act Bylaws only allows for 1 dog or cat. If you have 2 pets, you should get express permission from the Strata for both pets and should have the Bylaw legally amended. Opinions can change, so have the Bylaw amended immediately while you have at least 75% of owners in agreement. A new owner can force you to comply with the original Bylaws if the amendment was never filed. They can force you to get rid of your 2nd pet.
Here’s a link to the BC Strata Property Act Bylaws if you want to review what EVERY strata is legally required to follow. Potential Buyers should consider how many Strata Property Act Regulations and Bylaws the existing Strata does not follow. Be weary if the Strata seems to misunderstand their requirements when it comes to common property maintenance and repair.
Similar to maintenance issues, bylaw issues that can’t be resolved between Owners may need to be resolved through a Civil Rights Tribunal (CRT) .
Best practice would be for the Strata to follow the standard Strata Property Act Regulations and Bylaws This practice includes holding annual AGMs (and other meetings as necessary), crafting a budget, maintaining a common Strata bank account, keeping meeting and financial records and amending bylaws. Get a legal opinion with regards to how the strata should be run, especially if the Strata has been non conforming. Helpful CHOA Article: https://www.choa.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/pdf/800/800-157-18122014-Non-Conforming-Stratas.pdf
When a duplex or triplex unit is non conforming to the BC Strata Property Act, we’ll try to get as much information as possible. We’ll ask about the other neighbours, how they typically manage maintenance and issues, how much work they do themselves around the complex and who typically takes the lead.