BC strata a legal minefield

I received a press release from Deryk Norton of the Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association (VISOA) claiming that BC lags behind the rest of Canada when it comes to legal protections for strata owners – below is the text of that release:

STRATA OWNERSHIP NEEDS BETTER LEGISLATION

According to strata owners on Vancouver Island there are major deficiencies in BC’s strata legislation. Over 458,000 condominiums and other strata properties, or one in four taxable properties in BC are affected by strata legislation. 67,000 of these properties are located on Vancouver Island.

A series of public meetings hosted by the Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association (VISOA) was completed on March 30. At these meetings, participants reacted to a discussion paper based on numerous complaints VISOA had received about inadequate legal protection for strata owners. Based on the public meetings, written submissions from owners and consultation with homeowner associations on the mainland, VISOA is now developing a report on issues and alternatives for improving BC’s strata legislation. The report will be available later this spring.

Most concerns expressed by strata owners focused on transparency and accountability deficiencies, including:

  • Lack of an accessible and authoritative source of legislation interpretation to support the operation of strata corporations according to law,
  • Lack of a requirement for a depreciation report or reserve fund study to inform owners and purchasers of the financial implications of the condition of common property,
  • Lack of a requirement for an audit of strata finances even where the strata corporation has hundreds of thousands of dollars in a reserve fund, and
  • Lack of prosecution of developers operating contrary to strata legislation.

“Furthermore, VISOA research has found that BC lags behind other jurisdictions in requiring transparency and accountability for key areas of strata or condominium operations”, said Felicia Oliver, VISOA President.

 

VISOA is a non-profit organization that has provided information and education services to strata owners and strata councils on Vancouver Island since 1973.

BC’s strata legislation includes the Strata Property Act, the Real Estate Development Marketing Act and the Real Estate Services Act.

The VISOA website can be found at http://visoa.bc.ca/whatsnew

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Robin
12 years ago

Wow, no audit? I used to be the treasurer of a student residence in Ontario, and even WE had to have an annual audit. And even WITH an audit, years of incompetence still left us with inadequate capital reserves and a precarious future.

RJB
RJB
12 years ago

"Lack of a requirement for a depreciation report or reserve fund study to inform owners and purchasers of the financial implications of the condition of common property, "

I assume strata fees cover the maintenance of elevators, but what about major repairs and upgrades to elevators? If you need to replace the ropes, motor, travelling cables, etc. they must do a special assessment.

LaLaLand
LaLaLand
12 years ago

Strataman,

Thanks for the info…truly shocking state of affairs.

Since the strata form of ownership is relatively new to a lot of buyers (majority these days?), I suspect their ignorance (like mine) is vast as to how they are operated or the implications thereof. Sounds like a time bomb on the management side.

It takes time, effort, and competence to manage anything. Looks like the idea that condo's are a carefree, hassle free form of home ownership (lock the door everyday and don't worry about anything else, cause the Council or Property Management company is managing everything)is going to haunt some unaware buyers.

Strataman
Strataman
12 years ago

LaLa "Aren’t the annual statements always audited?" Amazing isn't it? No the accounts are not required to be Audited, a strata "treasurer" strata self appointed volunteer normally, is the only check on mis-appropriation of funds. The property management company will have a CGA doing the work and will sign of on it. No independent non conflicting third party audit is done. Absolutely stunned me when I learned this some years back, and has now helped me decide that strata's are a complete conflict of interest prone form of government. Property Managers are not "Managers" they are agents for the owners, which primarily means they do the strata council bidding, no questions neccessarily asked. My experience with dozens of strata councils shows a high level of incompetence and personal conflict of interest, and virtually no checks or balances.

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

While the bulls continue to believe that Vancouver is different, this "real estate boom is officially over" gives an opportunity to pack up the bags and move to lower cost places other parts of this country.

Coton
Coton
12 years ago

Off Topic but Found in Globe & Mail Today.

Real Estate Boom is Officially Over

http://www.reportonbusiness.com/servlet/story/RTG

LaLaLand
LaLaLand
12 years ago

I am quite shocked by bullet points #2 and #3.

I'm a renter, never owned a condo, but wouldn't it be a normal fiduciary duty of the strata Board to report on the condition of the common property as well as the financial implications? The annual financial statements would report on amortization/depreciation – a starting point at least for discussion with owners.

Aren't the annual statements always audited?