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Condo Smarts: “Your Home Isn’t Your Castle” and Other Lessons Learned About Layers

With over 34,000 condo corporations across BC, it’s no surprise to reach 1,000 columns on the topic of condo living.

With over 34,000 condo corporations across BC, it’s no surprise to reach 1,000 columns on the topic of condo living. British Columbia was an early adopter of strata legislation in the mid-1960s, with townhouses in Point Gray and Port Moody being the first. Since then, assignments of strata properties have been granted to all types of use. From duplexes to multiple sites of 1,100 units, and residential to commercial, industrial, hotel, resort, recreational, golf courses, marinas, strips of land, equestrian center, storage units, parking lots and mixed variants of all configurations, titled properties in strata has become the broadest form of development.

Strata developments allow for higher density, collective use of energy systems, additional facilities such as elevators, gymnasiums, swimming pools, bedrooms, meeting rooms and shared common expenses.

When administered effectively, they provide secure and affordable benefits to investors and residents. The challenge faced by condominiums/condominiums around the world is that decision-making rests on the shoulders of volunteer owners and councils/councils.

Condominiums/condos in Canada are deemed to be non-taxable corporations. Their condominium fees, special levies, interest and general operating expenses are not taxable; however, to the surprise of many condominium corporations, when commercial ventures are implemented, such as leases for communication towers, traffic signs, billboards, and commercial activities such as the operation of a company or an installation for the benefit of the company, the rules change and tax regulations apply. It is important for a condominium corporation to identify that it is a business, often with employees, and to operate and trade as a business compliant with all enactments of laws. After all, it is a fundamental requirement of any bylaw adopted by a condominium company. They must comply with the BC Human Rights Code and any enactment of law.

I have seen many strata corporations sink into a deep financial and operational crisis, primarily due to volunteer board members or inexperienced managers controlling finances and decision-making, unqualified to administer the scope of the routine maintenance, major projects and long-term planning. Nobody expects a condo board to be a corporate director, and yet we place the operations of condo corporations often exceeding hundreds of millions in value, on the shoulders of volunteers, and often without the resources budgets needed to retain qualified professionals. Property owners must properly equip our boards and managers with the funding and tools they need to operate effectively, and condominium boards must be honest, fair, and act in the best interests of all owners.

After 1,000 columns, here are the common problems prevalent in the industry.

1. No board member has any special authority. Decisions on construction, operations, enforcement of regulations and legal matters are made by a majority of council at a council meeting.

2. Your house is not your castle! This is a classic expression to describe the life of strata. No matter what type of condo corporation you live in, what you do in your condo lot will affect other condo lots. This is why regulations regulate the use and enjoyment of all property.

3. “Keep condo fees low to make it easier to sell your condo lots.” This statement is deadly for condominium corporations. This results in lack of maintenance, planning and funding for annual and long-term repairs, neglected property, emergency repairs, legal actions, failed special levies and court intervention to administration and repairs.

Thank you to all readers and your emails.

Tony Gioventu is Executive Director of the Condominium Home Owners Association

[email protected]

John Smith

The author John Smith