|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by the Law Students' Legal Advice Program on July 24, 2023.|
In a strata development, owners own their individual strata lots. As a strata corporation, owners also collectively own the strata corporation’s common property and assets. This blend of individual and common ownership has led to a wide-reaching legal framework that governs the relationship between owners in a strata corporation.
The popularity of strata developments continues to rise in British Columbia. The benefits of living in strata housing are easy to understand. First, it allows people and families that own strata units to have a more direct involvement in decision-making than they otherwise would in a traditional apartment complex or shared living space. The rules under which strata developments operate also provide a great deal of flexibility. To be discussed in this chapter, strata owners and strata council can, with many important exceptions, enact bylaws separate from the legislation governing them to create a living environment that best suits the owners' interests and lifestyle. Finally, the sharing of common property in a strata development can create a strong sense of community, giving residents more opportunities to develop relationships with their neighbours.
Living in strata housing, however, also comes with its legal challenges. Due to its self-governed nature, disagreements in various aspects of strata living commonly arise. Many of these disagreements and challenges are resolved between parties without the need for legal action, but many also cannot be decided between disputing parties, leaving the courts to make decisions on strata disputes on an ongoing basis. Ever since its 2016 introduction as Canada’s first online administrative tribunal, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (“CRT”) has decided thousands of strata property matters, providing more accessible dispute resolution options for strata matters than traditional court proceedings.
The purpose of this chapter is to give an overview of the current state of strata property law in British Columbia. This chapter can be broken down into three large sections that are then further divided into more specific areas of strata law. Sections 3 – 5 give an overview of what a strata development is, including details on the strata plan and the concept of common property. Sections 6 – 10 give details on the governance of a strata corporation, which includes its finances, bylaws, and rules. Sections 11 – 14 discuss common topics in strata living, including insurance issues and the duty to repair and maintain. Finally, sections 15 and 16 overview dispute resolution in a strata, including where the Civil Resolution Tribunal or the courts are involved.
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