The 6 Most Important Bylaws to Look Out for When Buying into a Strata

Are you looking to buy a condo?  We recommend obtaining an Eli Report here or through your realtor.

If you are considering buying a condo unit in British Columbia, there is a high chance you will be buying into a strata corporation.  In BC, strata corporations fall under the Strata Property Act, and will have adopted bylaws which govern the rights and responsibilities of all owners and residents.  The strata corporation may also have adopted rules, which are different from bylaws in that they govern the use, safety and condition of common property (not a strata lot).

A strata corporation may adopt the Schedule of Standard Bylaws which form part of the Strata Property Act, or they may pass their own bylaws.

When buying into a strata corporation, it is critical to review the community’s bylaws and rules before completing a transaction, as there could be factors that affect your purchase needs.  Below are the top 6 bylaws to look out for when buying into a strata condo:

  • Insurance Bylaws

With strata insurance premiums increasing all across British Columbia in 2020, it often means that the underlying policy deductibles have also increased.  An important insurance deductible a condo buyer should pay attention to is the water damage deductible.  If your unit causes a flood that affects another unit or common property, you very often will be charged the deductible of the strata corporation’s policy if a claim is made.  As a homeowner, your personal strata insurance should be enough to cover the deductibles of the strata corporation’s policy, so you are not left with a significant cost.  Insurance deductibles for strata corporation policies can be anywhere from $10,000 to $200,000 or more.

  • Rental Restrictions

It is quite common for a strata corporation to have rental restriction bylaws.  This could be relate to the total number or percentage of allowable lots to be rented, short-term rental restrictions relating to AirBnB or VRBO, or a complete ban on all rentals.  If you are an investor looking to rent out your condo after purchase, or if you are looking for a close-knit community of all owners, this is a critical bylaw to review.

  • Smoking Restrictions

Like rental restrictions, it is common for strata corporations to have smoking restrictions as well.  These restrictions could be a full prohibition of smoking anywhere within the strata, or limit smoking to only an owners’ balcony.  It is very common for smoking to be prohibited on all common property.  A recent trend is the passing of new smoking bylaws, which impose restrictions on smoking marijuana, e-cigarettes or vape pens.

  • Pet Restrictions

Pet restrictions are common, and are set out in the Schedule of Standard Bylaws.  Pet restrictions can range from no pets allowed, to limits on various types of animals, and so, you often see pet restrictions that are very detailed.  The most common restrictions relate to the number of caged birds, mammals, dogs and cats an owner can have.  You may also see weight restrictions on pets (this is generally to restrict large dogs), and more commonly today, you could see a complete ban on any vicious dog breed (such as Pitbulls, Rotweillers, and Doberman Pinschers).

  • Move-in and Move-out Fees

Especially in newer buildings, it is quite common to see that a strata corporation will charge an owner or tenant a move fee to book off an elevator for a certain number of hours.  This fee typically ranges anywhere from $50 to $300, and can cover the costs associated with building security for the move, or disruption to other owners.  You may also be asked to pay a refundable damage deposit before your move, to cover any damage caused to common property during the move.

  • Age Restrictions

While less common, unknowingly buying into a strata corporation with an age restriction could be a significant issue if you fall outside the bylaw.  If there are age restrictions, very often they focus on creating adult or senior oriented communities.  Age restrictions can be anywhere from 18+ to 55+ years of age.  A quick check of the bylaws and you will be able to determine if such a restriction exists.

If you are purchasing a condo and plan on renting out the unit to tenants, remember – your tenants must also adhere to the strata corporation’s bylaws!  If your tenant breaches a bylaw that leads to a fine, you as the owner of the unit will be responsible to pay the fine and recover the cost.

Eli Report is an artificial intelligence platform that assists real estate professionals in reviewing and uncovering potential issues contained in condo and strata documents.

Are you looking to buy a condo?  If so, be sure to talk to your realtor about obtaining an Eli Report!