If you’re buying a unit in a condo building or townhouse community, you likely know that living in a strata comes with certain unique policies compared to living in a private home on freehold land. Strata corporations have their own interests to consider, as well as the interests of other owners involved in the arrangement. That’s why you’ll find several kinds of ownership structures that vary from one strata building to the next. So what do you own when you live in a strata building? Here’s what you need to know.
Strata Lots: Private Units with Clear Ownership Boundaries
BC Housing, the branch of provincial government that legislates housing issues, defines a strata lot as a piece of property that is individually owned. That is, the strata lot has one and only one owner. In the case of condos and townhouses, the lot’s boundaries are usually the center of the walls, floors, and ceilings, unless the strata plan indicates otherwise. In some cases, a strata plan may designate certain parking stalls or storage lockers as part of the strata lot.
Common Property: Resources Collectively Owned by All Strata Owners
Common property refers to any area or resource in a strata building that all of the strata owners jointly own, for example, a parking garage, a fitness centre, or a clubhouse. Each strata owner is entitled to use the common property as laid out in the owner’s lot agreement. Common property can be assigned to a specific owner for a short span of time (as through a lease or other usage agreement) or shared as per the strata bylaws. In the case of parking, for instance, a lot agreement may include assigned parking or may dictate that parking is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Limited Common Property: A Common Area Designated for Exclusive Use
Limited common property is a kind of common property that is also an extension of the strata lot. In essence, it is a piece of property existing outside the strata unit over which the unit owner has exclusive usage rights. Unlike common property, which can be assigned for exclusive use for a short period of time, limited common property is a more permanent arrangement. For example, a strata corporation may designate a balcony or a parking space as limited common property. If limited common property is damaged, it is usually the unit owner’s responsibility to pay for repairs.
Buying a unit in a strata community can be a complicated arrangement, especially given the shared ownership structure. But an experienced real estate agent can help you navigate the process and understand how ownership works under strata rules. Call Chamberlain Property Group at (778) 476-7778 to learn more.