Get answers to key questions, such as a strata council’s obligations for major repairs in B.C., who can perform the renovation work, what are the legal obligations of owners and what are the legal ramifications of vague disclosures.
For a complete picture, consult our Repair Warranty Insurance on Building Envelope Renovations page.
The duties of a property manager are set out in the contract between the strata corporation and the property manager. If your contract doesn’t contemplate a major repair, the strata council and property manager will need to come to an agreement. For example, some property management contracts call for an additional percentage fee to the property manager in the event of a major repair.
Investigation follows a series of steps. It starts with a visual inspection, a review of the building’s maintenance history and owners’ reported problems. Non-destructive testing follows, typically using moisture meters. Depending on those results, some destructive testing may be necessary. This involves removing areas of the cladding to see what is happening beneath it.
For substantial repairs, you need a licensed building envelope renovator. Our Selecting a Licensed Building Envelope Renovator tip sheet will guide you through that process.
It’s best to communicate in multiple ways. Examples include:
- Meetings for two-way exchanges of information, plus Q&A
- Newsletters sent at regular intervals
- Announcements sent when required
- Consultants available to talk with owners at general meetings
- Good minutes adequately summarizing information exchanges and decisions following general meetings
The strata corporation — the owners — is obligated by the Strata Property Act to “…repair and maintain the common property and facilities.”
The building envelope is common property. Any damage to a strata unit that results from failure of the building envelope is the strata corporation’s responsibility. If the strata corporation votes against taking action — or reasonable action — a strata owner can apply to the courts for alternate stewardship of the strata.
The strata council can authorize repairs in emergency situations. If the situation is not an emergency, the council can authorize repairs that don’t cost more than $500. It is obligated to act in good faith: to perform its duties in accordance with the Strata Property Act.
A strata council should take care in explaining the duties of the strata corporation to the owners. It should also help the owners make decisions that will not harm the strata corporation’s assets nor place the strata corporation in legal jeopardy.
Owners must disclose what they know about their building’s problems. They should give the buyer all the minutes and other communications that they have received from the strata corporation with respect to any problems. Most contracts of purchase and sale have a condition that provides to buyers all minutes for at least the past 12 months. Prospective buyers should also get a Property Disclosure Statement that is completed by the owners.
Even if the problems turn out to be more extensive than first expected, as long as owners disclose all they know up to the completion date of the sale, they have fulfilled their obligations to disclose.
According to the Strata Property Act, the contingency reserve fund can be used for emergency repairs without approval from the owners. Beyond emergencies, owners must give their approval at a general meeting to use these funds.
The strata corporation has two options for raising money:
- It can borrow money and collect extra amounts from the owners each month to repay the loan.
- Special assessments can be levied against each strata unit.
Either course of action requires approval by the owners at a general meeting of the strata corporation.
Once the strata corporation has approved a resolution to levy special assessments, the Strata Property Act provides remedies for those who do not pay on time. Ultimately, the strata corporation can place a lien against the strata lot requiring it to be sold and monies owing to the strata corporation are collected from the sale proceeds.