East Van Condos: What are Strata Documents?

15.09.2013

Strata Documents and Monthly Meetings – Why are these important?

When you’re purchasing a Strata Lot (also known as a East Van condo or apartment), you are investing in the building and you become a member of the strata corporation. This investment requires proper due diligence to ensure you know what you’re buying into. Take a look at my other two posts about East Van Condos (Strata Buildings) to bring you up to speed.

When a condo is developed, a Strata Plan is created which details who owns what in the building. As a condo owner, you would own your unit, plus a percentage of the common space (i.e. hallways, foyers, etc.). In order to keep every owner up to date on the status of the building, condos hold regular meetings (either monthly, bi monthly or less often for small stratas). These meetings are documented in the minutes so there is a record of what was discussed, including building issues, maintenance, new ownership, complaints, lawsuits, and more. In order to maintain some structure in the building, rules and bylaws are created that every owner must follow. If you are interested in buying a condo, you should know what’s been going on in the building before you buy, and the strata documents will tell you.

It’s very common for Buyers to have a subject clause in their purchase offer allowing them to read through the building’s strata documents prior to officially purchasing the property. Therefore, the Buyer can have a good idea of what they’re buying, and otherwise can revoke their offer if they don’t agree with how the building is managed.

The typical Strata Documents are:

All Strata Council Meeting Minutes

  • From the last 2 years; the minutes from the regular meetings, the Annual General Meeting (AGM), and Special General Meetings (SGMs) will detail the happenings within the building.
  • AGMs and SGMs typically detail important topics including the building insurance policy, major upgrades, voting on changes to the bylaws, electing the Strata Council (building representatives) and more.
  • Meetings typically happen monthly for large buildings, and less often for smaller Strata Buildings.

The Building’s Bylaws and Rules

  • These rules can be voted in or down by the owners during meetings and the Annual General Meeting (and you would read about something like that in the meeting minutes). Breaking a rule usually results in a fine.
  • Typical Bylaws include:
    • Age restrictions. This isn’t very common, but some complexes only allow people over 40, or 55, etc.
    • Pet Restrictions: Some buildings don’t allow pets, only allow 1 or 2 pets, only allow dogs under a certain weight and size, only allow cats or have no restrictions! If you have a pet, and you put an offer on a property that is advertised to allow pets, then you read the bylaws and discover that no pets are allowed, you can revoke your offer due to incorrect advertising.
    • Rental Restrictions: These can be anything from a certain number or % of units allowed to be rented at one time, it can prevent you from renting your unit until you’ve lived in the building for 2 years, it can enforce a minimum of a 1 year lease, or may have no restrictions whatsoever.
    • Noise Restrictions: Usually preventing loud music, construction, or other loud activities from occurring before or after a certain time of day.
    • And many other restrictions, which can determine the types of floors you’re allowed to install, what type of blinds are allowed, whether barbeques are allowed and more.

The Strata Plan

  • This was filed in the land title office prior to the building being developed and details how the property is divided amongst the owners.

Building Warranties, Depreciation Reports and Engineer’s Reports

  • These documents detail work that has been done on the building, or work that may need to be done in the next few years. For example, before a building approves upgrades to the rain screen, the building will hire an Engineer to investigate the problem areas and expected maintenance plan.
  • Think of the Depreciation Report as the building’s 30 year maintenance plan. Done by an Engineer, this report details every expected maintenance issue for the next 30 years, how much it will cost and how it will be funded.

Form B and Financials

  • The Form B details a few common questions about the building, including the current contingency fund, the number of rentals allowed in the building, the parking and storage locker numbers, etc. The financials detail how money is budgeted and spent.

If you are seriously interested in buying a condo in East Van (or anywhere), I’ll request these strata documents from the listing realtor and go through them with you so you understand specific issues and details about the building. I strongly advise you to read these documents as well (and at the very least, the minutes, bylaws and depreciation report).

As the owner of a Strata Lot, you are always allowed to request the strata documents (sometimes for a small fee) from the Strata Corporation.

That’s Strata documents in a nutshell. I’ll continue to detail everything you need to know about Strata Buildings in future posts, until then, if you have any questions, feel free to contact WeLoveEastVan!

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