Updates to BC’s Strata Property Act Lacking

Posted by on Thursday, December 1st, 2022
in Real Estate & Property Law

The BC government recently introduced several changes to the Strata Property Act which change several important elements; for the latest updates from the government see their page (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/strata-housing/legislation-and-changes/changes-to-legislation). The changes target three areas:

1) The removal of general rental restrictions;
2) The removal of age restrictions; and
3) Confirming electronic participation in meetings.

We provide the briefest of comments on these changes in reverse order based on what we have seen thus far. Electronic attendance at meetings that has become common place in Canada since March 2020 and the large majority of us are not only used to this but recognize that in procedural matters they can actually be more efficient. Accordingly, these changes are receiving little coverage and are unlikely to be the source of big problems for stratas and strata owners.

The removal of age restrictions has similarly not had broad coverage because, we speculate, it has been largely uncontentious for most owners. In the simplest terms, the changes remove strata age restrictions for the age 19-55 bracket. Since some strata’s had chosen to restrict their properties to be ‘adult only’, which we presume is in an effort to reduce noise as disruption and, as anyone who has tried to negotiate reasonable terms with a 2 year old knows, deviations from typical circadian schedules. Undoubtedly this will, as all change does, result some issues so strata owners and councils should be alive to the changes and be sure that they continue to manage strata affairs and apply strata by-laws in a stable and standard manner.

The largest point of concern has been the removal of general rental restrictions. Some commentators raise concerns about how this may fuel greater real estate speculation from investors and thus work to keep rents high (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/strata-act-amendment-rental-restriction-1.6660466?cmp=rss). Many raise the concerns about the extra work dealing with non-owner residents may create for what are already very burdened strata councils (https://choa.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/MLA-letter-Nov-21-2022-FINAL.pdf). These are important considerations but given the legislation is in effect we will have to wait and see if the changes have the government desired effect and also whether the anticipated concerns come to be.

However, largely left out of these conversations is the in ability of the current BC residential tenancy system to manage its current volume of work. This is of concern as one element of the changes was a policy change the government gave to the Residential Tenancy Board. This change purports to give stratas the power to deal with problem tenants through the residential tenancy system. While untested, if accepted by the residential tenancy system we then add to the residential tenancy system’s case load a new category of claims. The result will not only exacerbate the capacity issue with the residential tenancy system but we now have strata councils trying to negotiate and unfamiliar system, a situation likely to cause frustration to both strata owners and councils.

If you or your strata council are unsure of how to stay in control of your building management do contact us to request further information.