In the past few years, the Metro Vancouver real estate scene has become very expensive. For many who want to get into the real estate market, detached homes are simply unaffordable, and purchasing a condo and town home is the only affordable solution.
Developers are now aware of this fact, and there are a number of housing developments sprouting up all over the Lower Mainland. Some buyers who jump into condo ownership do not pay attention to the strata bylaws and get frustrated when they learn that the bylaws work against them.
So before you sign any contracts, make sure you address and are aware of the following points with respect to the strata bylaws of the development you intend to purchase from:
No doubt offering part of your condo for short-term accommodation would be a great help for reducing your mortgage burden. With the popularity of AirBnB and the fact that many municipalities have now laid out clear rules for such accommodation, be aware that the condo strata corporation may prohibit this.
The strata corporations usually cite concerns about insurance coverage, security and damage. Many owners are not aware that a standard unit insurance policy does not cover damage caused by a guest.
Rental restrictions and prohibitions
You may want to travel for a few months and rent your condo out while you are away. Ensure that the bylaws allow you to do this. In another scenario, you may buy a condo with the long-term intention of moving to another home and renting yours on the market instead of selling it. Check to see whether there are any rental restrictions in the strata bylaws that prevent you from doing this.
If you own a pet, don’t take it for granted that it will be allowed to stay with you in the condo. Pet bylaws vary greatly from strata to strata, and can be as extreme as complete pet prohibition. Some stratas that allow pets may have a size and number of pets restriction, and may require pre-approval and registration with the strata.
Flooring and other renovation restrictions
Some stratas may not allow you to replace the current carpets with hardwood flooring. This may be a noise restriction measure between the floors of the building. Make sure you are aware of this before planning these changes.
Even if the strata corporation does not contain specific provisions about the installation of flooring, the bylaws always contain some general provisions requiring approval of the strata council for alterations or renovations to a strata lot. So you may have to get approval for any other planned renovations, and it is not a guarantee that your plans will pass.