Buying a condominium means learning a new legal language

During the course of completing the purchase of her condominium, a first-time buyer recently contacted me to inquire about the paperwork needed to be filled out, commenting wryly that she now needed to learn “condo speak.”

During the course of completing the purchase of her condominium, a first-time buyer recently contacted me to inquire about the paperwork needed to be filled out, commenting wryly that she now needed to learn “condo speak.”

Even before moving in to her new place, she was already aware that an entire new lexicon had to be learned to cope with living in a condominium community.

The first thing a new comer encounters are forms and forms and more forms.

In fact the Strata Property Act literally has forms from A to Z. Thankfully, they had to stop when all the letters in the alphabet were used. Fortunately, most strata members will only need to deal with a few of them.

A prospective purchaser, or their representative, will likely want an optional Form B, the Information Certificate.

This form costs $35 and provides an array of valuable information required to make an informed decision.

For example, it includes such items as monthly strata fees, arrears, the amount in the Contingency Reserve Fund, legal proceedings pending and the number of rental units allowed.

The Form F, or Certificate of Payment, is required to transfer title.

The purpose of this form, which costs $15, is to declare if there is any money owed by the unit.

If there is an outstanding balance then it must be stated that satisfactory measures have been taken to resolve the debt.

The Form A is a proxy appointment used by members who are unable to attend an Annual General Meeting or Special General Meeting.

By appointing a proxy the member transfers their voting rights to an entitled individual who will attend the meeting.

The proxy appointments are either for general purposes, specific meetings or specific resolutions.

Stratas that amend their bylaws need to file a Form I with the Land Title Office in Kamloops.

There no longer is a deadline for filing, however, the amendment doesn’t take affect until it is registered.

One document you want to avoid is the Form G, the Certificate of Lien.

Due to the recent economy, stratas are resorting more to filing liens to ensure their financial position is protected should the condo fall into foreclosure and/or a court ordered sale.

Condo speak is also replete with acronyms. SL, AGM, SGM, LCP, CRF and HVAC are often used acronyms that newbies should get to know.

The worst, of course, is NSF. That is covered by Division 1 (1) of the Schedule of Standard Bylaws (or depending on specific amendments) and could result in interest charges, a fine or Small Claims court action.

Not to worry though, there is always an LLB available to make sure you don’t end up in CRAP —that’s Condo Residents Acronym Prison.  

StrataScene is intended for general information purposes only. Gunnar Forsstrom is a licensed Strata Manager with Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty.


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