Changes to Strata Bylaws Now in EffectJan 10 2023
The British Columbia Government recently made important changes to strata bylaws in the province. As of November 24, 2022, the Government removed the ability of stratas to restrict rentals and to have age restrictions other than a 55+ restriction. The Government also made temporary regulations permitting annual and special general meets to be conducted electronically into permanent legislation.
While allowing electronic meetings is not a very significant change, the removal of rental restrictions and limits on age restrictions are likely to have significant effects on housing availability in the Fraser Valley.
Many strata complexes have restrictions on rentals. Some have a complete ban, while others allow a certain number of rentals which are often allocated by lottery. In 2018, a government report recommended lifting rental bans in strata buildings. Some might argue that these new changes are late to the party after several years of housing crisis plagued BC. However, late change is better than no change for those advocating for these new rules.
The lift on rental bans is likely to increase the stock of available rental units in the province. These restrictions are common in the Fraser Valley, and the new changes could be a welcome respite for renters as more stock generally means lower rental rates. However, it is unclear how this change to the market will affect current renters who may soon find themselves paying more than the going rate on their current units. Additionally, it is unclear how the changes will impact the housing market for buyers, as rentable units tend to be more attractive. For better or worse, we can likely expect some fluctuation in both of these markets in the coming year to adjust for the change.
What these changes mean for homeowners in strata complexes with rental restrictions is two-fold. First, any restrictions currently in place in your strata complex related to long-term rentals are invalid as of November 24, 2022. The strata does not need to change its bylaws to implement this change. Second, short-term rental restrictions in strata bylaws remain valid. For example, these new changes do not allow owners to ignore restrictions on renting out their units on Airbnb or other short-term rental platforms.
Another common restriction in strata complexes is a restriction on the age of occupants. There are many strata complexes in the Fraser Valley that are 19+, 40+, and 55+. These restrictions are designed to cultivate a certain atmosphere in the building, for example by eliminating children or young adults who many have a higher tendency to cause disturbances to other occupants. The new changes eliminate all restrictions other than the 55+ restriction. The government has clarified that maintaining 55+ restrictions is intended to secure available housing for seniors. In complexes with a 55+ restriction, a live-in caregiver under the age of 55 will still be allowed to occupy the unit despite the restriction.
Similar to the rental restrictions, as of November 24, 2022 all age restrictions other than 55+ are rendered invalid. This means that, as of November 25, if your complex had an age restriction other than 55+ that restrictions no longer applies even if it has not been removed or changed.
It remains unclear how this change will affect the housing market for buyers in the Fraser Valley. There is a large number of age restricted apartment complexes in the Fraser Valley that will become available to young, first-time home buyers. Additionally, non-age restricted units often sell for higher prices. It is unclear how exactly the market will react to an increase in stock, driving prices down, with a countervailing increase in desirability, driving prices up.
For assistance with real estate and strata property disputes, contact our office at 604-853-0774. If you need help dealing with a strata property dispute, ask for our Civil Litigation Team. If you are looking to buy or sell a new property, ask for our Real Estate Team.