Recently, there have been changes to rental rights regarding strata properties. B.C. Premier David Eby announced several changes on his first official day in the Legislature, hoping to reform some of the increasing housing problems in B.C.
Bill 44 “BUILDING AND STRATA STATUTES AMENDMENT ACT, 2022” may have slipped under the radar for most people, but many strata owners did take notice. Let’s face it, not all of us are lawyers or have the time or patience to read over the bill or recent changes. In this article, we have broken it down into plain English to help you with the information.
WHAT IS A STRATA? HOW IS A STRATA DIFFERENT FROM A CONDO?
Strata housing includes a variety of housing types including condominiums, duplexes, townhouses, and even single-family homes in some circumstances. A condo is usually part of a strata system or corporation. The new bill will most often be relevant to a condominium (apartment) style strata or a townhouse style strata. It is rare for a stand alone type of bare land strata (usually single family style homes) to have age restrictions, but if so these changes will apply.
Strata owners and residents must comply with the Strata Property Act. Bill 44 relates back to the original Strata Property Act, but with some amendments.
WHAT ARE THE NEW STRATA RULES IN BILL 44?
Bill 44 affects strata owners and residents.
The amendments to Bill 44 include the following:
Any previous bylaw regarding rental restrictions or limitations is no longer enforceable so should the condo association have had a limited number of rentals allowed in a building or no rentals allowed this is no longer an enforceable regulation.
However, a bylaw prohibiting short-term rentals (vacation rentals) is still valid and may carry a fine if violated.
Also to note is the new ruling that “The strata corporation must not screen tenants, establish screening criteria, require the approval of tenants, require the insertion of terms in tenancy agreements or otherwise restrict the rental of a strata lot. “ In the past, a strata had the right to “screen and approve” all tenancies above and beyond the owner of the unit. This is no longer allowed. (Page 6 of the bill)
Many condo associations adopted their own age restrictions which went against what the approved age restriction limits were in BC. Some condos had a 19+ age restriction in the hopes of not allowing children, some had a 40+, 45+, or many other restrictions. These restrictions were not allowed but once adopted into the Bylaws of a strata became the “new norm”, which blocked the opportunity in most cases for younger people or people that had families to purchase. The only age-restricted bylaw that can now be enforced is the one that applies to occupants aged 55 or older (senior’s-only buildings).
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PROPERTY OWNERS OF A BC RENTAL?
As a property owner, it means the community of your strata has just opened up to more people. It also means your neighbors (including yourself) are now allowed to rent out their condos, as long as it isn’t a short-term or vacation rental.
The strata corporation is now unable to screen tenants, which can seem alarming to neighboring units. However, the owner is still able to choose who to rent out the unit to, so it isn’t as bad as it sounds. It means the owner doesn’t have to carry an additional step to get approval from the strata corporation to rent out their property. A property owner's best interests are served by screening and ensuring that the person renting their unit will be a good tenant that abides by the rules of the strata, otherwise the owner themselves will bear any fines or penalties imposed by a strata. Essentially, the property owner has more rights and control over renting their unit than they did before without this extra step of waiting for a strata to convene and approve a tenant.
The previous screening process for tenants varied between stratas. Some strata corporations did not allow families with children, for example. This means a childless family would be forced to move into a different home if they decided to have children. These new strata bylaw changes now eliminate this discriminatory type of situation. Premier Eby’s hope with this change is that families with children will not be discriminated against when looking to purchase (or rent) housing.
In some cases, property owners wanted to rent out their units but were unable to do so because of the restrictions and screening process put in place by the strata corporation. As a result, many condos have stayed empty even though there are more than enough renters to go around for these units. The amendments to Bill 44 will help turn empty units into ones with renters.
IS MY CONDO BUILDING GOING TO TURN INTO ONE HUGE AIRBNB OR VACATION RENTAL?
If your building already had regulations preventing short-term rentals, everything has stayed the same. Sometimes condo owners rent their property on sites like Airbnb to make a little bit of extra money on the side. While this may seem like a good idea, all it takes is one bad tenant to cause thousands of dollars in damage and numerous complaints from neighbours. Many stratas already have clauses in their agreements to disallow short-term rentals for this reason. If your condo building or strata already had this restriction in place, then it has not changed. Also of note is to confirm with your local municipality that short term (air BnB) type rentals are allowed in the area, often there is a local municipal bylaw that prohibits the short term rentals.
WILL THIS AFFECT MY INSURANCE PREMIUM?
A couple of years ago, changes were made that required all strata corporations to obtain property and liability insurance. The new strata bill changes do not mention insurance directly. Still, it is likely to increase anyways due to inflation, an increase in the number of overall claims, repair costs, and the age of the building. As such, these new changes do not appear to be causing a change to insurance premiums, but do check with your strata’s provider about changing premiums.
I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS, WHO DO I CONTACT?
If you require more assistance understanding what these changes mean to you, please feel free to contact my office. We will provide you with information so you can make strong, informed decisions about buying or selling your property. You can contact us by using the form at the bottom of our website or call the office at 250-656-3486.