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    New BC Strata Law Changes: What You Need to Know about Rentals, Age Restrictions, and Meetings

    Mar 16, 2024
    Explore the latest updates on BC's strata laws affecting rental and age restrictions, and how electronic meetings are now standardized for strata corporations.

    In a pivotal move that reshapes the landscape of strata living in British Columbia, recent amendments to the Building and Strata Statutes, notably through Bill 44, have ushered in a new era for strata corporations, property owners, and tenants alike. Effective from November 24, 2022, these changes, aimed at enhancing housing accessibility and flexibility, significantly alter the governance of rental restrictions, impose limitations on age-related bylaws, and embrace the modernization of meeting protocols through electronic means. This introduction to the revised strata laws will guide you through the key aspects of this legislative transformation, ensuring you are well-informed about its implications on the BC real estate scene.

    Rental Restrictions

    Previously, strata corporations had the autonomy to impose bylaws that restricted the rental of units within their buildings. This was a mechanism often used to maintain a certain level of owner occupancy within a building, which some believed contributed to better maintenance and community stability.

    However, with the enactment of Bill 44, this autonomy has been significantly curtailed. The bill explicitly prohibits strata corporations from enacting bylaws that restrict the rental of strata lots. This change is immediate and renders existing rental restriction bylaws unenforceable. This move is aimed at increasing the availability of rental units in a province where rental housing is scarce and in high demand.

    It's important to note, though, that strata corporations are still permitted to regulate short-term rentals (e.g., AirBnB). This means while long-term rentals cannot be restricted, strata can still impose bylaws concerning short-term accommodations to address concerns related to noise, security, and transient occupancy.

    Age Restrictions

    Bill 44 also introduces changes to age restriction bylaws. Prior to this bill, strata corporations could have bylaws restricting residency based on age, with common restrictions being 19+ or adult-only buildings. The new legislation limits this power, allowing age restrictions only if they support seniors' housing, specifically through a "55 and over" rule.

    This change aims to prevent discrimination based on age and to ensure that housing is accessible to individuals and families of all ages, except where the intent is to provide housing tailored to the needs of seniors. It's worth mentioning that existing age restriction bylaws with a minimum age of less than 55 are now unenforceable.

    Electronic Meetings

    Another notable change brought about by Bill 44 is the formal allowance for strata corporations to hold annual and special general meetings electronically. This amendment is a response to the growing need for flexibility in how meetings are conducted, a need that has become particularly evident in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    This change allows for greater participation among strata members who might be unable to attend in person due to geographic distance, mobility issues, or other constraints. The bill specifies that electronic means must enable real-time communication among participants and allow for the verification of eligible voters.

    Practical Implications

    For strata councils and property managers, these changes necessitate a review and potential overhaul of existing bylaws to ensure compliance with the new legislation. Strata corporations will need to communicate these changes effectively to all residents to ensure a smooth transition and to prevent confusion or disputes.

    For property owners and prospective buyers, these changes could affect the desirability and value of strata properties. The removal of rental restrictions may make certain properties more attractive as investment opportunities, given the increased flexibility in renting out units. On the other hand, the changes to age restrictions might affect individuals and families who preferred living in adult-only buildings.

    For tenants, these changes are likely to be largely positive, as they potentially increase the availability of rental units and prevent discrimination based on age.

    In summary, Bill 44 represents a significant shift in how strata buildings in British Columbia can govern themselves. While these changes are aimed at increasing housing availability and reducing discrimination, they will require adjustments from all parties involved in the strata community. Strata councils, in particular, will need to navigate these changes carefully to ensure legal compliance while maintaining the harmony and integrity of their communities.

    Click here to see the BILL 44 – 2022 BUILDING AND STRATA STATUTES AMENDMENT ACT, 2022.


    Q&A:

    How do the new rules affect rental restrictions in strata properties?

    Strata corporations can no longer enforce bylaws that restrict the rental of units. This aims to increase the availability of rental properties. However, strata can still regulate short-term rentals like AirBnB to manage issues related to transient tenancies.

    Can strata still enforce age restrictions under the new amendments?

    Yes, but with limitations. Strata corporations can only enforce age restrictions that designate buildings or complexes as "55 and over," primarily to cater to seniors' housing needs. This change promotes inclusivity and prevents age-based discrimination in housing.

    Are electronic strata meetings now officially recognized by law?

    Yes, Bill 44 officially allows strata corporations to conduct annual and special general meetings electronically, without requiring a specific bylaw to do so. This change facilitates greater participation by enabling owners to join meetings via telephone or other electronic means.

    What should strata councils and property managers do in response to these changes?

    They need to review and possibly revise existing bylaws to align with the new legal framework. It's crucial to ensure that all bylaws related to rentals and age restrictions comply with the amendments introduced by Bill 44.

    How might these legislative changes affect property values and the attractiveness of strata properties?

    The removal of rental restrictions could enhance the appeal of strata properties as investment opportunities, potentially affecting property values positively. Conversely, the changes to age restrictions might alter the desirability of certain properties for buyers seeking adult-only living environments.

    What benefits do these changes offer to tenants?

    The amendments potentially increase housing options for tenants, especially in the rental market, by eliminating rental restrictions. The limitation on age restrictions also ensures more inclusive housing opportunities, irrespective of age.

    Will existing rental and age restriction bylaws automatically become void with the enactment of Bill 44?

    Yes, existing bylaws that conflict with the new regulations—such as rental restrictions and age restrictions not conforming to the "55 and over" rule—will become unenforceable with the immediate effect of Bill 44.

    Can strata corporations still have bylaws for short-term rentals?

    Yes, strata corporations retain the ability to create and enforce bylaws regarding short-term rentals to address specific concerns related to these types of accommodations.

    Explore our sample strata report to discover how we highlight the potential and concerns of properties, aiding both real estate professionals and buyers.