The management of a strata corporation is a complicated undertaking where knowledge of applicable laws is crucial.  Explore issues relating to strata governance here.


A strata corporation may commence lawsuits.  However, in order to do so validly, such a lawsuit must be approved by ¾ of the owners at an annual or general meeting.  If the strata corporation is suing some of its owners, they are not eligible to vote in respect to such a lawsuit.  There are two levels of trial court in British Columbia: Supreme (with unlimited monetary jurisdiction) and Provincial (with limited monetary jurisdiction).  A strata corporation can pass a bylaw permitting it to sue in Provincial Court on the collection of fines without the ¾ vote of its owners.

A strata corporation does not need approval by its owners to defend lawsuits.

Getting Rid of Problem Owners and Tenants

Problem owners and tenants can significantly impair the ability of good owners and tenants to enjoy their units and the common property.

Often, problem owners and tenants show a callous disregard for the rights of their neighbours or the need to follow the strata corporation’s bylaws.  The imposition of fines is one means by which a strata corporation can seek to curb poor behaviour by problem owners and tenants.  However, there are more extreme measures for more extreme cases.

To deal with problem owners in extreme cases, it is possible for a strata corporation to obtain an order from the Supreme Court forcing the sale of the problem owner’s unit, thus, removing the problem owners from the strata corporation.  This is a very complicated legal process that requires competent legal representation: ask a Vancouver strata lawyer.

To deal with problem tenants, the strata corporation can force their eviction.

Strata Management

A good property management company is key to a well managed strata corporation.

A strata corporation has the power to enter into a contract with a property management company for the purpose of strata management.  Council decides which property management company to contract with.  Often, in new developments, a new council will inherit a property management company hired by the developer.  The property management company may even have longstanding business ties with the developer.  In such cases, new councils are well advised to terminate the contract with the developer nominated property management company and hire one chosen by council and with no conflicted loyalties.

Property management companies are agents of the strata corporation and its council.  They act in the name of the strata corporation.  Therefore, it is very important for council to be aware of what obligations the property management company is accepting on behalf of the strata corporation.

Short Term Rentals and Licenses

The issue of short term rentals has been at the forefront of strata management in recent years with some owners running Airbnb or VRBO rentals out of strata properties.  Indeed, the City of Vancouver has recently amended its bylaws to permit short term rentals under limited circumstances.  Depending on the behaviour of the renters, this can be more or less of an issue to other owners, many of whom did not purchase their units with the expectation that the adjacent unit would be run as a virtual hotel property.  Relatedly, some businesses achieve a similar result by renting from owners and then purporting to license the units to the public for short term stays.

A council can regulate the presence of short term rentals and licenses through its bylaws.  Properly written bylaws can permit a strata council to take a strong stand against short term rentals and licenses.  As municipal bylaws are subject to change, councils may wish to have bylaws that are drafted without reference to municipal bylaws.  Otherwise, councils who tie their bylaws to municipal bylaws may find a change in the municipal bylaw leads to a significant unintended change to the strata bylaws.  If you are a strata council seeking assistance in drafting appropriate bylaws, ask a Vancouver strata lawyer.

As stated, some businesses operate by renting units from strata owners and then purporting to license the units to the public for short term stays.  Under law, there is a distinction as between rentals and licenses.  Thus, the business model of rental and license appears to be an attempt by such businesses to use this distinction to get around strata property bylaws against subletting, ie. rental and subrental.  Strata councils should, however, be mindful that the Residential Tenancy Act under s. 1 defines a ‘tenancy agreement’ to include a ‘license to occupy a rental unit’ and, thus, deems a license to be a tenancy agreement and, thus, a rental and license to be subletting.  That said, strata councils wishing to prevent licensing are well advised to amend their bylaws to do so explicitly.

Developers Retaining an Interest in Common Property

Developers not infrequently seek to retain proprietary interests in a strata corporation’s common property.  For example, the developer might grant itself a leasehold interest in the strata corporation’s parking facilities.  Sometimes, it does so in a blatantly profiteering manner whereby the developer (or one of its affiliates) takes the revenues of renting parking spots but offloads the maintenance costs to the strata corporation.  Often such leasing arrangements are illegal.  Often, purchasers of strata units are not even aware that they are purchasing into a strata corporation whose common property is burdened by the developer to the developer’s sole benefit.  If you are a strata council seeking to address ongoing developer legal presence in the common property of your strata, ask a Vancouver strata lawyer for advice in how to do so.

Power to Pass Bylaws

The strata corporation is permitted to enact bylaws as long as said bylaws do not contravene the Strata Property Act, the Regulations pursuant to same, the Human Rights Code or any other enactment or law or bylaws that destroy easements or that interfere with an owner’s ability to sell their strata lot: s. 121 of the Strata Property Act.  This gives a strata corporation a wide power to pass bylaws to manage the itself.  However, where bylaws are contrary to the Strata Property Act, its Regulations, the Human Rights Code, seek to destroy an easement or interfere with an owner’s ability to sell their strata lot, the bylaw may be challenged in court.

We had a situation where an owner was in breach of the bylaws but our property management company wrote an emailed excusing the wrongful conduct. Is council bound by the property manager’s email? If so, for how long?

Probably yes and likely until such a time as council writes the owner in breach and reasserts its position that it will enforce the bylaws. Such situations are highly fact dependent. For more information, ask a Vancouver strata lawyer.

For more information, view the full response.
We have a property management company that we are not happy with. The previous council signed a one-sided contract saying that the strata could not terminate the property management company on less than 6 months notice. We want them out now. What do we do?

Section 39 of the Strata Property Act permits a strata to terminate a property management company on two months notice regardless of the contract as long as proper procedures are followed: for more information, ask a Vancouver strata lawyer.

For more information, view the full response.
Information provided to you by Vancouver Lawyers at Pettit and Company.
Information provided to you by Vancouver Lawyers at Pettit & Co.