What is a Strata Corporation?
A Strata Corporation is a legal entity created under the Strata Property Act (Act) with all of the powers of a natural person who has full capacity. This means that it can sue others, be sued by others, enter into contracts with others and hire employees.
A Strata Corporation is created to divide a building(s) and/or parcel of land into separate components individually owned and common components owned by all of the owners.
The strata plan will show the separately and commonly owned components of the building(s) and/or land.
- Separately owned components are referred to as “strata lots”; and
- Commonly owned components are referred to as “common property”.
The Strata Corporation is responsible for managing and maintaining the common property and assets of the strata development for the benefit of all of its owners.
The specific obligations of the Strata Corporation are usually performed by the Strata Council, or agents or employees which it hires.
Additionally, the Strata Council will also perform its own obligations which are imposed by the Act and Regulations on the Strata Council, and will benefit the Strata Corporation.
What is a Strata Council?
The Strata Council is a governing body, not unlike that of a small municipality, elected by the owners of the Strata Corporation at large. Normally, between a minimum of three and a maximum of seven owners are elected each year at the Annual General Meeting. The elected Strata Council members then select the President, along with the Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary and Special Committees (if required).
The primary responsibilities of Strata Council are to administer and manage the Strata Corporation business, in accordance with the Act and the bylaws and rules of your Strata Corporation. In this respect, the Strata Council is totally responsible for all the affairs and conduct of the Strata Corporation as well as the maintenance and repair of the common property and the common facilities, through the Strata Agent.
The work of the Strata Council is both rewarding and essential to the well being of the community, therefore, the support and co-operation of the other owners is extremely important.
What is a Strata Agent?
We likened the Strata Corporation to a small community with a governing Council. The same analogy applies to the provision of Strata Agent services. In this case, Strata Agents are retained under contract by the Strata Corporation to implement policies and decisions made by the Strata Council. Strata Agent’s involvement includes all areas of financial management, administrative services, owner communications, day-to-day operating and maintenance needs and guidance to the Strata Council and inquiring owners on certain policy matters and matters relating to the interpretation of the Act and bylaws. It should be noted that, as the Strata Agent for the corporation, the Strata Agent in no way is responsible for setting policy, it is the Strata Agent’s job is to carry out the instructions of Strata Council.
Part of the Strata Agent’s responsibilities includes response to emergency situations twenty-four hours a day. This is to avoid the need for owners to contact Strata Council members (unless deemed absolutely essential) as they may be unable to deal effectively with emergencies depending upon the emergency nature.
What is a Strata Lot?
The legal description of a condominium unit is a “strata lot” which together with all the other strata lots comprises the “Strata Corporation.” The common boundary of a strata lot with respect to any other adjoining strata lot (or with common property), unless otherwise stated on the final strata plan, is the center of the floor, wall or ceiling. Anything beyond these boundaries either forms part of another strata lot or is the Strata Corporation’s common property, or “limited common property” for a particular strata lot. Owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing their strata lot.
What are Strata Fees?
Each year, an annual operating budget is prepared together by the Strata Agent and the Strata Council. Subsequently, the budget is submitted to the owners for approval at the AGM. The budget is planned to provide the necessary funding for administration, maintenance and all other operating requirements essential to maintaining the common property of the Strata Corporation for the ensuing fiscal period.
In addition, an amount is included in the budget for the Contingency Reserve Fund, (as required by law/Act), for the purpose of funding non-annual expenses and/or emergencies. Should there be a possible shortfall in the annual budget, it may be necessary to request the approval of a “Special Assessment” from all unit owners (based upon their unit entitlement) at a General Meeting of the owners.
The budget is funded by the collection of strata fees from all of the unit owners. The amount of the payment is based on the approved annual budget, and is calculated for each unit based upon its “unit entitlement” formula provided in the strata plan and Act. Generally, the formula is a calculation of the ratio of square footage (or square meters) of each unit relative to the “gross total” square footage of all the strata lots multiplied by the total unit entitlement.
What are Bylaws and Rules?
The Strata Corporation is governed in two primary ways:
- Under the terms of the Act, and
- By the individual by-laws (amendments) passed by the Strata Corporation
- ……and then registered in the Land Titles Offices of BC.
Bylaws can only be adopted, amended or added to by “3/4 Vote Resolutions” (approved by 75% of those owners present in person or by proxy and that are eligible to vote) at a General Meeting of all unit owners. If no bylaws have been adopted, Standard Form Bylaws of the Act are deemed to be the basic bylaws for your community.
In addition, there may be rules, which have been approved and adopted by the Strata Council, which are not registered in the Land Titles Office. These are circulated with the standing bylaws at the outset of ownership or, as new rules are adopted from time to time by either the Strata Council or the ownership.
Bylaws and rules apply to any number of items including pets, parking, exterior appearance, noise levels, exterior alterations and rental restrictions.