Strata Properties: The Importance of the Bylaws

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Strata Documents are such an integral part of buying a condo, and one that is oddly often overlooked by a lot of Buyers (I’m not too surprised, they can also be really boring to the untrained eye). One of my jobs as your Realtor is to compare the strata documents from the building you’re interested in buying, to the hundreds of other documents I’ve looked through over the years. I’m looking for common elements, owner/strata mentality, maintenance work, indications of future issues and anything that seems really odd.


The Bylaws are an integral piece of the puzzle – you need to know what’s allowed and what’s not so you can live peacefully in a shared community.


Some of the most important things to look for in Bylaws are:


1. Pets – How many pets are allowed? Are there any size or breed restrictions? Do you need strata approval before bringing the pet in? Can you walk your pet through the lobby? Do the minutes show certain owners complaining about pets?


2. Rentals – how many rentals are allowed? Is there a waitlist and how is the waitlist handled? How long do you have to successfully place a tenant? How long do leases have to be? What happens when the original tenant leaves, do you get to keep renting it or do you lose your rental spot? Is AirBnB allowed?


3. BBQs – Are you allowed to barbecue on your patio/balcony and what kind of BBQ can it be?


4. Storage – what are you allowed to store in various areas of the building: parking spot, storage locker, patio, etc? Where does your bike go? Do you get your own bike spot or is it first come, first serve?


5. Renovations – what kind of flooring is allowed, and are there any requirements for installation? What does the strata require to offer approval for renos? When are you allowed to work or make noise in the unit? Does the owner need to be present anytime contractors are working? Do you have to protect the hallways and elevator?


6. Moves – does the strata charge a move in fee? How much notice do you need to give to book the elevator? Does the strata charge owners every time you want to book the elevator to move in a big piece of furniture?


7. Selling your Property – are signs allowed? Are open houses allowed?


8. Common Areas – when can you use the common areas like roof top deck, gardens, gym, lounge, visitors suite, etc? Do you have to book the space or can you use it anytime? Is there a charge to use it? Are you allowed visitors?


9. Other restrictions – is there an age restriction? Is smoking allowed? How many people are allowed to live in 1 or 2 bedroom units?


10. Fines – what are the fines? How do they administer the fines and what happens if you get too many? You’ll also want to look through the minutes to see how the strata handles Bylaw issues. Are they compassionate? Do they let owners explain themselves? etc.


This is far from an exhaustive list of what Bylaws are important to understand, though they are some of the most commonly asked about. If you’re starting to look for property, start working with a Realtor. There are too many things that you need to know about, and nothing is as obvious as it seems. It’s our job to ensure the purchase is smooth and that you know what you’re buying. Give us a call if you have any questions!


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