Forsstrom: As annoying as they may be to some, strata bylaws are important
Beleaguered strata councils are often the subject of scorn for enforcing the corporation’s bylaws.
Bylaws are the constitution of the condominium and should not be taken lightly, when either drafting them or enforcing their implications.
Bylaws reflect the culture of the community and require the support of eligible electors to come into force.
The bylaws govern virtually every aspect of living in a strata, including how owners and tenants may use their strata lots, the common property and common assets.
They also determine the administration of the corporation.
While most stratas amend the standard bylaws to suit the needs of its members, the amendments cannot violate the Strata Property Act, or other legislation such the Human Rights Code.
Although democratically adopted with good intention by a vote resolution, they would still be unenforceable.
It is a good practise to have the drafted bylaws reviewed by a lawyer prior to registering them.
Enforcing bylaws can be very stressful and harmful to relationships if proper procedures are not followed.
Although councils are responsible for enforcement, they must first receive a complaint that a person has contravened a bylaw or rule.
Prior to proceeding with a complaint, the council may give the alleged offender a warning, or an opportunity to comply with the bylaw or rule. If the council wishes to proceed with the complaint, it must give particulars of the complaint to the other party in writing.
If the complaint is against a tenant the owner must also be notified about the allegations.
The council must then give the alleged offender a reasonable opportunity to respond to the complaint.
The Act requires the council to hold a hearing if one is requested, defined as an opportunity to be heard in person at a council meeting.
Following a hearing, the council must promptly provide its written decision in the matter to the person affected.
Once council has complied with these requirements, it can enforce the bylaw or rule.
Enforcement is generally restricted to fines and councils need to be careful not to overreach their authority or they could be on the receiving end of justice.
For example, if a landlord breaches a bylaw, council cannot automatically remove the owner’s right to continue to rent their unit.
Just the same as a person caught jaywalking couldn’t have his legs removed.
With some exceptions, amendments are not enforceable if they impinge on the right of an owner to freely sell, lease or dispose of their condominium.
In addition, bylaws cannot require the screening of tenants, nor require the approval of tenants. As always, common sense and mutual respect are the hallmarks of a well functioning strata corporation.
StrataScene is intended for general information purposes only.
Gunnar Forsstrom is a licensed Strata Manager with Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty.