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Buyer Beware! Five strata restrictions you need to know about

ALL strata properties in BC have restrictive bylaws

Some of them can cost you 

          1. Insurance
            There is considerable damage from a water leak from a dishwasher in the apartment above you. Damage to your apartment alone is estimated at $60,000. You were not responsible and assume that the building insurance will cover you for all damages. You assumed wrong. It costs you $60,000.

            Most strata building insurance policies have a water damage deductible of $5,000. You discover, too late, that your building’s policy has an $80,0000 deductible. You need your own content insurance to cover your apartment. You didn’t have content insurance because you knew the building had insurance. The standard personal contents insurance covers you up to $5,000 for water damage. So even if you had a standard personal apartment content insurance policy you would still owe $55,000.. A good realtor will check this all out for you before you buy.

          2. Hardwood Flooring
            You just bought an apartment. Want to replace that old carpet with hardwood? You might not be allowed to. Noise is a big issue in apartments lots and many stratas have bylaws that restrict the kind of flooring you can put in.

            Even if your strata bylaws do not mention flooring, the bylaws will always contains something about requiring approval of the strata council for alterations or renovations. A good realtor will check this all out for you before you buy.

          3. Rental Restrictions

            You have to take a job out of town so a friend agrees to rent your place. 

            No problem, right? Wrong. A friend is not a family member. You can be fined for violating strata bylaws. 

          4. Short Term Rental Restrictions

            You bought your apartment because you knew there are no rental restrictions. None whatsoever. You bought another property and decide to rent this one on Airbnb. A neighbour questions someone they don’t know in the lobby and finds out about your Airbnb rental. You are ordered by the strata council to end your short term rental immediately or face big fines. Stratas can create bylaws which prohibit short term rentals. Further, more and more municipal governments are passing bylaws which prohibit short term rentals. As an owner you can be fined for bylaw and zoning infractions. A good realtor will check this all out for you before you buy.

          5. Pet Restrictions

            When buying your apartment you see owners with dogs in the lobby and elevator. You assume pets are okay. However when you move in you discover that strata has recently passed a bylaw prohibiting dogs. You are faced with selling your apartment or getting rid of your best friend. It is normal practice when a pet restriction bylaw is introduced that owners who had pets before the bylaw are exempt. But any new owner must obey the new bylaw. A good realtor will check this all out for you before you buy.

If you think you can just ignore strata council fines, think again. Recently, a judge in Surrey ordered an owner to sell their strata unit and move. A judge gave the owner 90 days and if it didn’t sell in 90 days the sale would be taken over by strata council who could lower the price to sell it.


Remember, it ain’t fair, it’s just strata !

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