• Proposed Changes to the Strata Property Act: The End of Rental Restrictions


    The BC Government has announced a major change to the Strata Property Act, which if passed through new legislation, will effectively end the ability of Strata Corporations to prohibit rentals.  The proposed changes are being made as part of the Province’s efforts to address the housing affordability crisis facing British Columbia.

    We at Stratawest do not take a position on this legislation- there are pros and cons to removing rental restrictions and time will tell whether or not it will lead to good outcomes. It’s also important to note that the full text of the legislation has only just been made public, has not yet been passed (so may be subject to amendment) and the BC Strata legal community has yet to weigh in on the proposed changes.

    That said, our clients have incredibly diverse views on the proposed legislation with some being in favour and some being very much opposed.  There are advocacy groups in our province whose mission is to protect the public, and they are lobbying on behalf of their stakeholders.  Most notably, the Condominium Home Owners Assocation (CHOA) has announced their own position on the proposed changes and written an open letter to the legislature on the subject, advocating for them to consider the wider implications on the Strata community.

    Strata Councils who wish to lobby for changes to the legislation should consider joining CHOA, an organization of which we are a member and have long supported.  You can do so by advising your Property Manager, who will arrange for membership on your behalf.

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  • Keeping Cool in Strata (and Rental) Properties


    As we wrote about recently, subsequent to last year’s devastating and tragic “heat dome”, there is growing demand for heat pumps and other air conditioning units to be installed within Strata Corporations.  These usually require some physical alterations to accommodate the associated electrical and piping requirements.

    Our colleagues at Lesperance Mendes published this article which covers some of the most recent developments in this area and we take this opportunity to share it with you here.

    Our advice on this subject is brief- due to the complexities involved with installations of this type of equipment and the legal implications of refusing applications to allow them, we strongly encourage Strata Councils to engage legal advice for assistance on developing a framework for the installation (or accommodation) of air conditioning devices.  More and more Owners are going to be requesting permission to install and your Strata would be well served to be prepared to review these applications and determine what accommodations can be made, especially for those most vulnerable to heat related health issues.

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  • “Strata Squeeze” – Inflation, Property Management Shortages, Derelict Properties and More


    We take this opportunity to link this excellent article from Vancouver Magazine, “Strata Squeeze: Could Florida’s Condo Collapse Happen in Vancouver?”.

    The author highlights and expands upon several subjects we have been discussing on our blog for many years now.  These topics include:

    1. The impacts of inflation and recent cost increases for just about all labour;
    2. The Insurance crisis in BC,
    3. The shortage of qualified and licensed Property Managers compared against the massive number of new Strata titled developments, which is creating significant disruption within our industry;
    4. Depreciation Reports and the importance of long term planning;

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  • Heat Pumps and a Changing Climate


    Our changing climate is prompting action by all levels of government address what is more and more being referred to as the “climate emergency”.  Rising temperatures, forest fires, flooding, increased migration and more are predicted for the Lower Mainland.

    We write today about the first and most obvious impact, rising temperatures along with the related impact of forest fires.

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  • Minimum Wage Increase – 2022 Edition


    There are many inflationary pressures facing Strata Corporations as we exit the most acute phase of the pandemic.  As we have been writing about, costs continue to soar for Strata Corporations- materials, services (such as insurance) and labour are all seeing dramatic increases.

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  • Privacy Guidelines for Strata Corporations


    Please note that we are republishing our previous article on Privacy Guidelines for Strata Corporations as the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner has updated their Strata Guide, linked below.

    We have previously written on Access to Records requests that Strata Corporations routinely face.  All Strata Corporation records are subject to various pieces of legislation, most notably the Strata Property Act (SPA) itself.  However, SPA is subservient to other provincial and federal legislation such as the Personal Information Protection Act and PIPA overrides SPA in a variety of circumstances.

    The Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) has recently updated their guidelines for Strata Corporations.  In their words:

    These guidelines will help strata corporations and strata agents in discharging their duties under the Strata Property Act (“SPA”) in a manner that respects the privacy of owners and tenants under the B.C. Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”) and promotes transparency in the operation of strata corporations.

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  • BC Speculation and Vacancy Tax / Vancouver Empty Homes Tax


    Ownership of vacant properties in British Columbia is currently subject to the “BC Speculation and Vacancy Tax” (SVT), which is wholly separate and apart from the Vancouver Empty Homes Tax (EHT) which applies to properties in Vancouver proper.

    The provincial government has phased exemptions for the SVT, which are changing this year, 2022.  It is beyond our expertise to provide advice to homeowners on the tax implications of these changes, but we can refer Owners for whom this tax applies to the official website.  We encourage anyone who does not occupy their property as their full time domicile to independently research both the SVT and the EHT and how one or both may apply to your properties.

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #24


    Dear Strata Councils,

    Today, March 10th, 2022, Dr. Bonnie Henry and the Province of British Columbia announced that the requirement to wear masks in indoor public spaces shall be lifted at 12:01am tomorrow (Friday March 11th, 2022).

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  • Hard & Now Obvious Truth: Everything is More Expensive and Everything Takes Longer


    We write to relay a fairly straight forward message.  We won’t restate or rehash what you are all likely reading about in newspapers and seeing on the 6 o’clock news about the World, Canadian and British Columbian economies- you can find far better sources than our firm for this information.  Briefly, the world is a very different place than it was pre-COVID and our economy has changed, and continues to, in a dramatic fashion. 

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #23


    Dear Strata Councils,

    We hope this message finds you safe and healthy during the holiday season and that we have some clearer (if snowy) skies ahead soon. Please stay warm over the next few days.

    As you are aware, the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) has introduced additional province-wide restrictions as of December 20th and 22nd, 2021 in an effort to keep BC safe and infection numbers down in light of the highly infectious Omicron variant. We have discussed the recent Order with other management companies and legal counsel to be able to offer the following regarding the latest announcements.  These comments are consistent with what other firms in our industry are recommending.  With that in mind, we offer the following guidance of a non-legal nature:

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