Understanding your rights & what to expect when buying a condo or townhome
As a prospective buyer of a multi-family (condo/strata) property, you are entitled to request information about the unit and strata corporation from the listing real estate agent and seller. The documents to be provided to any prospective buyer depend on the province in which you live.
In this post, we highlight what to expect for British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta.
In BC, the package of must include a Form B: Information Certificate, which outlines:
- Current budget of the strata corporation
- Strata corporation’s by-laws and rules
- Most recent Depreciation Report available/if any
While not required, it is important to also ask to see the strata corporation’s council meeting minutes for at least the last two years. Pay special attention when reviewing minutes, to see that all meetings held over the past two years were included in the document package.
What to expect from your licensed real estate professional?
It is a licensee’s obligation to discover relevant facts during a transaction. This is outlined in Section 3-3 of the Real Estate Council of British Columbia’s Real Estate Rules, as one of the duties to clients:
“(h) use reasonable efforts to discover relevant facts respecting any real estate that the client is considering acquiring;”
As such, you should always expect your Realtor to review and discuss the strata documents with you before closing on your purchase.
What is a Form B: Information Certificate?
Below is an excerpt from the BC Government’s Housing & Tenancy website:
The Form B: Information Certificate will contain a variety of information on a specific strata lot and the strata corporation including the following:
- Monthly strata fees payable by the owner
- Any amount that the owner owes the strata corporation
- any agreements by which the owner takes responsibility for expenses relating to alterations to a strata lot, the common property or the common assets
- any amount that the owner is obligated to pay in the future for a special levy that has already been approved and the date by which the payment is to be made
- any amount by which the expenses of the strata corporation for the current fiscal year are expected to exceed the expenses budgeted for the fiscal year;
- the amount in the contingency reserve fund (CRF) minus any expenditures that have already been approved but not yet taken from the fund
- any amendments to the bylaws that are not yet filed in the Land Title Office;
- any resolution passed by a 3/4 vote or a unanimous vote that is required to be filed in the Land Title Office but that has not yet been filed in that office
- any wind up (termination) resolution that has been passed
- any notice that has been given for a resolution that has not been voted on, if the resolution requires a 3/4 vote, 80% vote or unanimous vote or deals with an amendment to the bylaws
- any court proceeding, arbitration or tribunal proceeding, in which the strata corporation is a party and any judgments or orders against the strata corporation
- any notices or work orders received by the strata corporation that remain outstanding for the strata lot, the common property or the common assets
- the number of strata lots in the strata plan that are rented
- any details about any parking stalls and storage lockers allocated to the strata lot and their numbers
- any other information required by the regulations
For more details on the information disclosed on the Form B, please visit the Government’s website here.
It is important that the Form B contains the most current information. Technically, a Form B could be considered “stale dated” the day after it was issued, but as a rule of thumb, if a Form B is dated in the previous month, you may want to consider requesting an updated Form B from your real estate professional.
In Ontario, buyers of a condo will receive a Status Certificate which describes important information about the unit you want to buy as well as the condominium corporation.
What information is in a Status Certificate?
- Common expenses fee payment status
- Whether the corporation knows reasons for future increases to common expenses
- Condominium corporation financial status including the budget for the current fiscal year
- Condominium by-laws and rules
- Status of the reserve fund as well as any special assessments
In Alberta, sellers are under no legal obligation to provide buyers with condo documents, even though it helps with resale. Buyers should ask for all documents and even if the seller does not have them, the condominium corporation must provide purchasers with the following information within 10 days of your written request:
- An estoppel certificate (which tells you the current contribution, schedule, whether the seller has paid his/her share, and any amounts owing).
- Strata corporation’s by-laws and rules
- The current budget
- Management agreements, recreational and lease agreements
- Latest minutes of general meetings
- Capital reserve fund plan and annual report
- Information on the unit factor (your share of the common property)
- Details on any post tensioned cables on the property
- Information on any known structural deficiencies
- Agreements over possession of common property including parking and storage
How Eli can help?
An Eli Report uses artificial intelligence to provide an intelligent snapshot of a building’s strata documentation in less than 10 minutes. The report summarizes common by-law restrictions, highlights key issues from the council minutes, and analyzes the financials & budget of the strata corporation. Eli Reports help Realtors work more efficiently, enabling them to better inform their clients during a condo transaction.
Request an Eli Report from your real estate professional today!
If you are a Realtor or Owner, click here to sign up for an account and run an Eli Report for free.