Some Useful Information About Condos And Townhomes
What is a Strata Held Property?
“Strata held property” typically refers to a form of legal ownership, as opposed to a style of construction. Strata held properties are most often thought of as high-rise residential buildings, but this form of ownership can also apply to townhouse complexes, individual houses and low-rise residential buildings.
Strata held properties consist of two parts.
The first part is a collection of private dwellings called “units”. Each unit is owned and registered in the name of the unit purchaser.
The second part consists of the common elements of the building. The ownership of these common elements is shared amongst the individual unit owners, as is the cost for their operation, maintenance and ongoing replacement.
What Do I Own When I Buy a Strata held property?
Your unit, as well as a percentage of the common property elements allocated to the unit.
Components of building systems that serve more than one unit, such as structural elements and mechanical and electrical services are often considered part of the common property elements, particularly when they are located outside of the unit boundaries specified in the strata held property’s governing documents.
The right to use one or more parking spots and storage areas may be included. While you may have exclusive access to parking spot or storage area, you seldom actually own the space itself.
There may be some parts of the strata held property complex that are called “exclusive use common property elements.” They are outside the unit boundaries, but are for the exclusive use of the owner of a particular unit Balconies, driveways and front or rear lawn areas are common examples of exclusive use common property elements.
Common properties are the portions of the strata held property that are not owned by a unit purchaser as a part of his/her individual unit. They are shared and co-owned by all the individual owners of the strata corporation. They usually (but not always) include such things as:
- Recreational facilities
- Central heating and air conditioning systems
- Parking facilities
What is and is not included, as part of the common property elements, must be listed in the strata held property’s governing documents.
Maintenance duties for the strata corporation can include:
- Common plumbing, electrical and heating and air-conditioning systems
- Roof and wall repairs
- Windows and doors-repairs and replacement
- Grounds cutting, watering
- Parking areas
- Any other part of the property that is not part of a unit
Strata held property Contributions: What is Included in My Fees?
Unit owners pay a monthly strata fee to cover theirportion of the operating expenses of the common property elements. These fees include:
Day-to-day care and upkeep of the common property elements (e.g. snow removal, landscaping, cleaning of common elements including carpets and exterior windows, heating/cooling system maintenance)
Contributions to the reserve fund, which is used to pay for major repairs to, and replacement of, common building systems to ensure the property is kept in good repair over the life of the building
- Property management fees
- Building repair and maintenance
- Salaries of strata held property employees (e.g. superintendent, security guards, concierge)
- Amenities (e.g. use of pool, recreational facilities, party room)
- The corporation’s insurance policies
What Rules and Restrictions Might I Encounter in a Strata held property?
Every Strata held property is governed by its own unique rules, regulations and by-laws. These may be very strict or very relaxed depending on the nature of the strata corporation. These are necessary to ensure that properties are properly operated and maintained, and to define the rights and obligations of the individual owners. With respect to rules regarding the individual owners, strata held properties may have restrictions regarding:
- The number of occupants per unit
- When certain amenities may be used
- Number of rentals allowed in the building
Many strata held properties have strict rules concerning the alteration of the unit space or its appearance. For example, the strata corporation may require all the exterior doors of units to be the same colour to keep the architectural and community aspect of the strata held property intact. Additionally, you may have to get the permission from the strata’s Board of Directors before you change exterior fixtures or install a satellite dish, especially as some changes may affect the property’s structure or safety.