In BC we use the term strata instead of condo. Strata ownership is a unique from of ownership in that you have ownership and exclusive use of part of the complex, your strata unit, called a strata lot, and you have shared interest in the common property and common assets of the complex.
This unique ownership creates a relationship between the owners that is governed under the Strata Property Act, is set out in the bylaws and rules of the strata, and is run by a strata council.
The bylaws can define a strata such as adult oriented (no children), senior oriented (55+), and other factors, for example, whether units can be rented or if there are pet restrictions.
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Mount Washington and Paradise Meadows are a popular hiking destination in the Comox Valley.
Strata Title: Generally called condominiums or strata, they are created and governed by the Strata Property Act, BC. Essentially, it is a way of dividing a property into separate units and common property. Therefore, the owners have two types of ownership on one title; freehold title to their unit (strata lot), and a proportional interest as a tenant in common of the common property and common assets of the strata corporation. For example, the unit would be the apartment or town home and the common property would be the roads, parking, hallways, elevators, recreation facilities, etc. Common assets include the common property and other assets such as the contingency reserve fund.
For definitions of freehold title and tenants in common, see Home Ownership.
For most strata units the boundaries are defined as the centre of each wall, floor or ceiling that separates the particular strata lot from another strata lot or common area. Owners are responsible for repair and maintenance within their strata unit and the strata is responsible for the exterior, including doors and window, as well as all common property.
Bare land strata are defined below.
Every strata is defined by the strata plan and bylaws, so there can be different treatments. What is described here are the common styles.
There can be some variations as to how the strata and common property are structured, and this is outlined in the strata plan for the property. Examining the strata plan and financials of the strata is part of the purchase process. (See Strata Housing from the BC government for more.)
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From a buyer's perspective, buying a strata is a little more complicated and requires more work at the due diligence stage. In addition to taking into account the price, age, condition and strata fees, buyers will want to consider the strata plan, bylaws, depreciation report, financial statements and past meeting minutes. With the possible exception of the bylaws, the rest of these documents are somewhat confidential and are usually not made available to the buyer until after an offer has been accepted. The offer should be subject to the buyer being satisfied with these documents in case something is discovered that makes the buyer not want to complete the purchase.
Stratas fall under the Strata Property Act, and through it and the strata plan a strata corporation is set up for each development. The strata corporation is managed by the strata members through an elected strata council. With larger complexes a strata manager may be hired by the council to assist in the day to day running of the corporation and the complex, including cleaning, repair, maintenance, managing staff and contractors, and financial matters. Owners have a share of the corporation, its duties and responsibilities.
Each owner is responsible for repair and maintenance of the interior of their unit and the strata is responsible for the exterior including windows, doors and balconies, plus the common property. Common property includes everything outside the strata units such as roads, parking areas, walkways, hallways, lobbies, elevators and common units and buildings such as guest suites and recreational centres.
When purchasing a condo you will want to review these documents carefully.
Careful examination of the financials, the contingency reserve fund and the depreciation report can help in accessing the financial health of a strata and how prepared they are for major upcoming expenses. Low strata fees are not necessarily a good thing if the result is the strata is underfunded for major repairs.