Here is our guide to Buying a Condo or Townhome in Kelowna or elsewhere in BC.
Useful questions to ask.
- What are the monthly charges for common area maintenance i.e. Strata Fees? Are they reasonable for the services you receive compared to other similar complexes? Have they been going up each year – large increases & special levies can be red flags?
- What services or utilities are included?
- Does the building have a good reputation – asking questions of existing Owners may provide some useful insights. Reviewing the latest 2 years Strata Minutes will also bring you up to speed on what is happening in the Strata.
- Who controls the recreational facilities? Will you be required to pay extra fees for using any of the facilities or amenities?
- How is the property being managed? Is the property being professionally managed by a company licenced by the Real Estate Council to provide Strata Management services or is it being “self-managed”, whereby the management is the responsibility of the owners collectively? Sometimes this can cause ‘challenges’ when obtaining financing.
- Has a Depreciation Report been prepared for the Complex? Depreciation reports are used to establish long term (typically up to 30 years) planning for repairs and renewals of common property and common assets.
- How much money is in the Contingency Reserve fund? Is this sufficient to carry out the recommended repairs & renewals mentioned in the Depreciation report?
- Are owners permitted to rent their units to tenants? How many rental units will be allowed in the project?
- Are pets allowed in the building? Is there a height restriction?
- Are there any other restrictions on use? E.G. Running a business from home.
- Has the Owner made any changes to the Unit, which require the Strata’s permission? This should typically be disclosed the Property Disclosure Statement. E.G. replacing Carpets with Hardwood or Laminate Flooring. CARE these upgrades will not be included in the Strata Insurance Policy, so you need to make additional arrangements in your own insurance policy.
- Have any Special Assessments or Levies been agreed upon and what are they for? If they are to subsidise the Strata’s Budget, why was there a shortfall, are the Strata keeping a handle on their costs?
- What about parking stalls and storage lockers? How many Parking Stalls are allocated to your unit and is there a Storage Locker allocated? How is this Parking Stall or Storage Locker allocated for use by your Strata Lot? The strata plan usually contains one or more of the following arrangements for parking stalls and storage lockers.
- the parking stall or storage locker is a separate strata lot. Although rare, parking stalls and storage lockers can exist as a separate strata lot with their own strata lot number. This designation can be identified by looking at the strata plan.
- the parking stall or storage locker is part of a strata lot unit. Parking stalls and storage lockers that are part of the strata lot will share the same strata lot number as the unit (the main strata lot) which uses the stall or locker. This designation allows the buyer to have automatic use of the stall or locker.
- the parking stall or storage locker is part of the common property. If the parking stall or storage locker is part of the common property, the strata corporation has ultimate control over the use of those areas, except in cases where there is a developer’s lease. Common property is owned by all owners as tenants in common. The strata council has the authority under the Strata Property Act to permit an owner to exclusively use common property.
If the parking stalls or storage lockers are designated common property, owners are entitled to use a particular area as a result of the strata council’s grant of exclusive use to that owner. This designation is handled by way of a short-term exclusive use agreement whereby the strata council allows the owner to exclusively use a particular parking stall or storage locker for a limited time period of one year. Although the strata council can renew the arrangement, it can also choose not to renew.
– the parking stall or storage locker is limited common property. Limited common property (LCP) is common property for the exclusive use of the owner of a particular strata lot. If the property is designated LCP, although it continues to be owned by all owners within the strata corporation as tenants in common, it may be used exclusively by the owner whose strata lot is identified on the strata plan as being entitled to use the LCP.
Document Check List
- Registered bylaws & current rules.
- Annual Operating Fund Budget.
- Information Certificate (Form B prescribed under the Strata Property Act).
- Latest Depreciation Report.
- At least the latest 2 years’ minutes of all meetings (including strata council meetings, annual or special general meetings and meetings of the executive (or of the members) of any section in the strata corporation to which the strata lot belongs).
- The Latest Balance Sheet & Profit & Loss Account for the Complex.
- The Insurance Policy, including a summary of any limitations to coverage.
- All applicable warranty information, envelope inspection reports or remediation reports.
- The registered Strata Plan.
- Any amendments or resolutions dealing with the common property.ny correspondence to owners from the strata council over the last twelve months. These documents will govern the manner in which your unit and the common areas may be used.
- Any correspondence from the Strata Council giving permission for changes to the Strata Unit.
Read these documents very carefully as they may reveal potential problems in the building and, if necessary, refer to your Lawyer for independent legal advice.
Other Resources –:
The Condominium Home Owners Association of BC http://www.choa.bc.ca/updates.html
Full Condominium Buyers Guide -: http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/odpub/pdf/63100.pdf
If you have any further questions or would like assistance in Buying or Selling a Strata Property in the Kelowna or surrounding area, please call or email us, as we’d love to help you!
Trish and Tanis
Tel 250 863 8989