Fines & Fees:
Q:The council wants to levy a fine for contravention of a bylaw. What are the procedures to follow?
A: Before the strata corporation imposes a fine against a person for contravening a bylaw or rule, it must (1) receive a complaint; (2) give the owner (or tenant) details of the complaint in writing; and (3) provide a reasonable opportunity for the owner (or tenant) to answer the complaint. A reasonable opportunity to answer the complaint may include a hearing in front of the council, if the owner (or tenant) requests a hearing. If the person complained of is a tenant, the strata corporation must give notice of the complaint to the landlord and to the owner, if the landlord and the owner are not the same. Once the strata corporation has complied with (1), (2) and (3), it makes its decision and gives notice in writing of its decision to the person complained of then the strata corporation may impose a fine.
Q: The strata corporation filed a lien on the title to a strata lot for unpaid strata fees. It was filed over a year ago and since then the amount owing has doubled. Does the Strata Corporation need to file another lien and revise the amount owing?
A: No. The lien remains valid for all lienable amounts up to the date of payment by the owner, including the reasonable costs incurred by the strata corporation to enforce the lien. A subsequent lien filing is not required.
Q: May a strata corporation register a lien on the title to an owner's strata lot if the owner has been assessed fines for breach of bylaws and failed to pay those fines?
A: No. A strata corporation may not lien for arrears of fines. A strata corporation may register a lien against an owner's strata lot if the owner fails to pay any of the following: (1) strata fees, (2) a special levy, (3) the cost of work performed by the strata corporation, but ordered by a public or local authority or (3) the strata lot's share of a judgment against the strata corporation.
Q: Our strata corporation does not want to allow any real estate signs. May we ban them?
A: A strata corporation may pass bylaws that govern activities relating to the sale of a strata lot, including determining the locations for the posting of for sale signs, but may not prohibit or unreasonably restrict the posting of for sale signs.
Sale of Strata Lots
Q: Our bylaws provide that owners cannot put up any signs to advertise the sale of their strata lot. Is such a bylaw enforceable?
A: No. Section 122 of the Strata Property Act permits a strata corporation to pass a bylaw relating to the sale of a strata lot, including locations for the posting of signs but the bylaw cannot prohibit or unreasonably restrict the posting of such signs.
Q: Our strata corporation passed a resolution authorizing a special levy in May. The resolution states that levy is payable in three equal instalments on the first day of July, August and September. If an owner sells a strata lot on July 15, who pays the special levy?
A: The seller must pay the part of the special levy payable before the date of conveyance. The buyer pays the instalments due after the date of conveyance. In this case, the seller pays the July 1st instalment and the buyer pays the August 1st and September 1st instalments.
Q: How much may a Strata Corporation spend from the operating fund, if the expenditure in not an emergency and the expenditure was not approved at the time of approval of the annual budget?
A: If there is no category in the operating fund for the particular expenditure, (for example, legal costs), then the maximum that a strata corporation may spend, in total, over an entire fiscal year is:
5% of the current year's operating fund whichever is less.
The strata corporation may adopt a bylaw that sets a different limit.
Voting & Governance
Q: Our strata corporation has a council member who is not on title to the strata lot, however, she is the spouse of the strata lot owner. May she be a council member?
A: According to section 28 of the Strata Property Act, a council member must be: (1) an owner; or (2) a representative of a corporate owner; or (3) a tenant with a written assignment of an owner's right to be on council; or (4) a different class of person that has been given the right to stand for council by authority of a duly passed bylaw of the strata corporation. Since the person on council is not an owner and not a tenant and assuming that the strata corporation does not have a bylaw that allows spouses to stand for council, she is not authorized to be on council.
Q: If every owner who attends a general meeting votes in favour of a resolution. Is that a unanimous vote?
A: No. A unanimous vote under the Strata Property Act is a vote in favour of a resolution by all the votes of all eligible voters. Every eligible voter in the strata corporation must cast a vote in favour of the resolution in order for the vote to be a unanimous vote.
Q: May the strata corporation ban proxies?
A: No. A person is permitted to vote in person or by proxy.
Q: If there are 40 eligible voters present in person or by proxy at a general meeting and 8 abstain from voting, how many votes are required to pass a resolution by a 3/4 vote?
A: The definition of 3/4 vote tells us that abstentions do not count as votes cast. If there are 40 eligible voters present in person or by proxy and 8 abstain from voting, then to pass a resolution by a 3/4 vote requires 75% of 32 not 75% of 40.
Q: How much notice is required before holding a special general meeting?
A: The strata corporation must give 2 weeks' written notice of an annual or special general meeting. However, if the notice is delivered by slipping it under the strata lot door or by leaving it with a person who happens to answer the door or by mailing it or faxing it, then the notice is not conclusively deemed to be delivered for 4 days additional days. When calculating whether a strata corporation has provided 4 days for deemed delivery, do not count the day that you send the notice. Therefore, the notice period for a special or annual general meeting is actually 19 days.
Q: Our strata corporation has a bylaw that prohibits rentals. One owner wants to rent to her sister. Since she is a family member, would that exempt the strata lot from the bylaw?
A: No. A family member is defined in the Strata Property Act as the parents of the owner or the children of the owner or the spouse of the owner or the parents of the spouse of the owner or the children of the spouse of the owner. A sister of the owner is not a family member as defined in the Strata Property Act.
Q: Our strata corporation has 5 owners who have foreign students living with them in their strata lot. The strata corporation has a bylaw limiting the number of rentals to 2. Are these students tenants?
A: Yes, the Strata Property Act defines a tenant as a person who rents all or part of a strata lot.
Q: May a strata corporation require an owner to reside in a strata lot for one year (or another period of time) before being allowed to rent the owner’s strata lot?
A: No. A Strata Corporation may, by bylaw, prohibit rentals, limit the number of strata lots that may be rented or limit the period of time that strata lots may be rented. A strata corporation may not require an owner to first reside in the owner’s strata lot in order to qualify to rent the strata lot.
Q: A strata corporation passed a bylaw two years ago prohibiting pets. An owner wishes to sell the owner's strata lot, but the prospective buyer has a pet. Is a "no pet" bylaw enforceable?
A: If the "no pet" bylaw was adopted by a 3/4 vote of the owners at a properly convened general meeting and filed in the Land Title Office, it is enforceable. A strata corporation may prohibit pets. However, the bylaw will not apply to a pet living with an owner, tenant or occupant at the time the bylaw was adopted.
Limited Common Property
Q: An owner says that the balconies and patios are limited common property because only one owner has access. How does a strata corporation know if a balcony is common property or limited common property?
A: The Strata Property Act defines limited common property as common property designated for the exclusive use of the owners of one or more strata lots. The key is the use of the word "designated". There are only two ways to "designate" common property as limited common property on the strata plan or by a resolution passed by a 3/4 vote of the owners at a general meeting. If a balcony is not designated in either of these two ways, then it is not limited common property.