September 28, 2021

Time for a Check In & Reboot of the Strata Property Act

This week Viewpoint Vancouver covered the challenge of tall towers and outlined some of the nightmarish costs when building systems fail. Such challenges will be expensive for  insurance companies, and may lead to substantial increases and requirements for strata insurance, impacting all stratas.

There are already existing problems for stratas in British Columbia: it takes a vote of 75 percent of owners to approve maintenance that may be required in a building. And that, given the sad collapse of a strata building in Florida, needs to be updated now.

Journalist Daphne Bramham shared an article  written by Zena Olijnyk in Canadian Lawyer Magazine points out that amendments need to be made in the BC Strata Property Act to ensure that buildings requiring life safety repair can be immediately upgraded without requiring an onerous approval rate of three-quarters of  owners (many who may be absent or offshore).

And in British Columbia, while mandatory reports on building condition are necessary every three years in stratas,they  can be deferred longer  if 75 percent of owners agree to wait.

The tragic implosion  of the Surfside Florida  Champlain Towers points out the errors of deferred maintenance, and not having enough contingency funding. That condo association had only seven percent of the funds in their reserve fund to do the structural work necessary for the building. Strata owners had not seen the necessity of repairing the structure.

As Ms. Olijnyk writes, “While the inspecting engineers did not find signs of imminent structural failure, the necessary work was urgent. However, many residents balked at the US $9.1 million bill, refusing to approve the required work. It took three years of bitter infighting before an agreement was finally reached, and by then, the estimated cost jumped to US $15 million. Work had just begun when the building collapsed on June 24.”

While all strata properties in the province must have property and liability insurance as described in the Strata Property Act,  that insurance has become increasingly expensive. The B.C. government stepped in last year to ameliorate the skyrocketing insurance rates as discussed in this article by Lori Culbert and Dan Fumano.

Look for the impact of climate change, sea rise,  tower building technology and condition of the building  to impact what and when  strata insurance will cover losses. And as all those mature strata buildings constructed  in the 1980’s to 1990’s have their regular maintenance check-ups, expect strata regulation and insurance coverage to change, reflecting prudence and risk calculation.

Changes in the BC Strata Property Act are needed to ensure necessary maintenance is never deferred, and that strata building contingency funds are large enough not to financially impede strata owners who may just be getting by.


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  1. That 3/4 rule to pass a bylaw is dreadful and needs to be changed. Despite significant majority support, my former strata couldn’t pass a resolution limiting STVR rentals in our building. Infuriating! Airbnb rentals in particular are ruining the sense of community in many stratas as well as making rents impossible for working folks who want to live here.

  2. … and think about the overwhelming complexity of the some of the “starchitect” towers being built and the probable cost to maintain and repair them. Some of these newer towers have different window wall / curtain wall systems on each of their facades. Keep it simple.

  3. I live in a small townhouse complex and getting my neighbours to agree to maintenance is tough because half the owners are elderly seniors, and the other half are families who expect to move to single family homes in the next couple years. Both groups don’t think they’ll be living in the complex 5 years from now and don’t want to spend the money. Being self-managed makes it even worse. No one wants to be the person on strata council to tell the neighbours we all need to buck up and spend some money.