If you recently bought your first apartment or townhouse, or perhaps are still in the process of looking, there are a few things to be aware of in regards to the property’s strata corporation that will save you some potential headaches later on. See below for part one of a two-part guide we’ve compiled.
All too often, a strata homeowner discovers a bylaw only after violating it. Always review the proper documents, preferably prior to purchase, to make sure there are no surprises later on. This can be anything from whether smoking or pets are permitted, to if costly repairs on the horizon.
Requesting a “Form B” information certificate from the strata corporation will reveal the current monthly strata fees payable by the owner, alterations to the lot, impending bylaw amendments and more. Studying minutes from past council meetings, annual general meetings (AGM) and special general meetings (SGM) are also a good idea.
You might be part of a large majority of owners out there that feel the operation and decision-making of a shared property is best left to those elected to council, or maybe feel as though one voice can’t make much of a difference. It is in your best interest, however, to attend AGMs and SGMs to keep appraised of what’s going on in the building/units, vote on any major changes or decisions and ensure the right people sit on the council.
And, if you’re so inclined, perhaps run yourself — there’s no better way to learn about the inner workings of a strata corporation and help make a positive difference at the same time.
Read the bylaws (sense a pattern here?) Even something as seemingly innocuous as putting in hardwood floors in a condo will likely need prior strata approval. For example, there may be a minimum thickness of underlayment required underneath the flooring for soundproofing purposes. The rules should also stipulate permitted work hours during the week to minimize disturbance to other unit dwellers.
Failure to do so may result in fines and/or a requirement to restore the lot back to its original condition.
Check back next month when we discuss disputes, parking and insurance.