Understanding Strata

what does it mean to own a strata lot?

Stratas in BC come in all types, sizes and flavors. They include condos, townhouses, duplexes, bareland strata and full stratas consisting of single detached homes. Strata properties are a popular housing choice in BC due to affordability, security and added amenities. We have provided a list below that will help you understand the basics of strata schemes. 

What does it mean to own a STRATA LOT?

A strata development is a building or land that is divided into separate strata lots, which are often referred to as strata units. In townhouses and condominiums, the strata lot generally ends at the center of the walls, floors and ceilings, but could have different boundaries if shown on the strata plan. All strata developments have a strata plan and the lots are designated as “SL” with a strata lot number in it. Click here to view a sample strata plan

Any part of the land and buildings shown on the strata plan that is not part of a strata lot is considered common property. Typically, common property incudes elevators, hallways, recreational amenities, building exteriors such as roofs etc. On a strata plan, the common properties are designated as “C”. Common property is owned collectively by the strata lot owners, as tenants in common. Owners can use the common areas subject to the restrictions of the Strata Property Act, the rules, regulations, and bylaws of the strata corporation. 
Click here to for more info on common property.

Limited common property (LCP) is common property that has been designated on the strata plan for the exclusive use of one or more strata lots. Balconies and parking spaces are commonly designated as limited common property. Limited common property is often designated on the strata plan as “LCP” with the strata lot number after it which states to which strata lot has the exclusive use to that particular area. Click here for more info on common property

Parking stalls and storage lockers are allocated in many different ways.
They can be either:

  • Part of a strata lot   (Completely separate from the unit. Can be sold separately from the strata unit.)
  • Separate strata lot   (Part of the same lot as the strata unit and share the same strata lot number and cannot be separated.)
  • Limited common property   (Owned by all owners in the complex. Exclusive use given to owner)
  • Common property as:   (Owned by all owners. These stalls can be allocated in 3 different ways)
    a) Granted as exclusive use
    b) Assignment of rights under a lease or license
    c) Common use of parking spaces

More info on parking stalls and storage lockers

The owners of the strata lots are the members of the strata corporation. The strata corporation is responsible for managing and maintaining the common property and assets of the strata development for the benefit of all of its owners. A strata corporation is a legal entity with all the powers of a natural person who has full capacity. It can enter into contracts and hire employees. 

More on strata corporations

All of the owners of a strata building are responsible for maintaining and repairing the common property. To effectively carry out the strata corporation’s duties to repair and maintain the common property, each strata corporation will elect a strata council made up of a group of owners to oversee the day-to-day operations of the building and fulfill the strata corporation’s duties. The strata council’s role is to act as the managing body for the strata corporation and make daily decisions that enable the strata corporation to operate smoothly and operate according to the Strata Property Act, regulations, bylaws and rules, or a majority vote of the owners.
More on strata councils.

The strata council (or section executive) can hire a strata manager and delegate certain powers to perform some or most of the functions of the strata council. However, the strata council is still ultimately responsible for ensuring that its obligations under the Strata Property Act are fulfilled.

While some strata corporations are self managed, many now contract the services of a third party licensed strata property managing company to manage and assist the strata council in operating the strata corporation. The manager can handle paperwork, prepare for meetings, take minutes, hire qualified services, assist as an advisor, bookkeeping money collector etc.
More on strata property managers

Bottom line is that a strata property is a type of community living with a group of individual owners that are part of a whole. When you purchase an individual strata lot, you are also purchasing an interest in common property and common assets owned by your strata corporation which is made up of every single owner in that particular strata development.


The bare land strata concept is best described as a larger piece of land that has been subdivided into several strata lots containing single family detached homes. As a buyer, you own the house and the lot or land. With this concept, the road, street lights, entrance gates, clubhouse, septic field, watering systems etc within the development is known as common property and the same proportionate share of ownership would apply to these common area. All strata owners are equally responsible for the maintenance and repair of the common property. Strata fees are commonly charged in bare land strata's to maintain the common property. Usually, these strata fees are lower than a normal strata property as the fees do not cover maintenance of individual dwellings. From the road, it can be difficult to discern whether a certain subdivision consists of freehold lots or strata lots. In some cases, it can only be distinguished by looking at the subdivision plan. 
Stratas: More than condos

Some newer subdivisions containing single family homes could also operate as a full strata. With this concept, the owner, like a condo unit, typically owns the home at the ends at the center of the exterior walls, floors and roof. The siding, roof, windows and doors of each individual home together with roadway and streetlighting etc., would be considered common property and therefore maintained and repaired through the strata corporation. The front and back yard would be considered limited common property. Strata fees are generally higher in full strata’s but at the same time you have the peace of mind that you will not be stuck with a large bill for replacing a roof, siding, driveway or other costly exterior repairs. Again, a full strata subdivision can only be distinguished by looking at the subdivision plan.

Strata schemes can be a mixture of residential and commercial, or commercial and retail, with different lots used for different purposes. This type of scheme can be more complex to manage but is becoming increasingly common as many modern developments are comprised of a mix of residential and commercial strata lots (such as buildings with retail stores and housing).

Mixed use Strata’s and other complexes containing multiple buildings are commonly operated under ‘Sections’ which are like “mini strata corporations” within the overall strata corporation. In addition to being part of the strata corporation, sections will have a section executive and a section budget. In addition to the strata corporation's bylaws and rules, sections can also have their own bylaws and rules for matters that pertain solely to the section. 
More on sections

Types have a much more limited scope than sections. Types are simply a method to allocate operating fund common expenses if the contributions are related to only one type of strata lot. Both strata corporations and sections can have types.
An example would be if a strata corporation contains twenty strata lots with gas fireplaces and twenty strata lots without gas fireplaces, then the operating fund expenses for fireplaces (e.g. the monthly gas bill) could be allocated to just the twenty strata lots with fireplaces. 
More on types

Governing the STRATA complex

All British Columbia strata corporations must comply with the Strata Property Act. The strata property act was designed to help strata members understand their rights and responsibilities. It covers important information about governance, records, contracts, 

meetings, voting, property, finances, bylaws, insurance and more. The act contains a lot of information and buyers and current strata members should find some time to review this information. Click Here to visit the ‘Property Strata Act.

A set of bylaws is created to govern each owner’s use of their strata lot and the common property.
All strata corporations must have bylaws and may have rules. These bylaws and rules apply to everyone living in the complex including tenants or visitors visiting the owners and tenants. The strata council is responsible for enforcing bylaws and rules. In sectioned complexes, there may be different rules and regulations for each section which is then enforced by the ‘section executive’.

Bylaws can allow certain types of pets, limit or restrict the rental of residential units, apply age restrictions, establish quiet hours, and even specify the type of window coverings. The provincial government has developed a standard ‘default’ set of bylaws for strata corporations. However, the strata corporation can amend, change or delete bylaws through a ¾ vote of the owners.

Rules and bylaw are different from each other. Rules govern the use, safety and condition of the common property and common assets whereas bylaws govern the use of strata lots. Specifying the type of window coverings in a strata lot could not be a rule, it could only be a bylaw. Requiring dogs to be leashed in common areas could either be a rule or a bylaw.

It is therefore important for buyers to read and understand the standard rules and bylaws of the complex they wish to purchase in.

For more detailed information regarding Bylaws and Rules visit: Bylaws & Rules
More info on 'Pet Bylaws'
More info on 'Rental Restrictions'

Financing the STRATA complex

Strata fees (also known as ‘maintenance fees’) are proportionate amounts paid monthly by all owners to help contribute towards the expenses of running your community. This may cover garbage removal, snow removal, clubhouse and pool maintenance, elevator maintenance, gardening and other expenses incurred in common areas, usually anything that is outside of individual units. 
More info on strata fees

CRF which stands for 'Contingency Reserve Fund' is used to fund common expenses such as maintenance, upgrades, and renovations that occur less than once a year in a strata building, complex or bare land strata.

Painting a complex, installing a new roof, upgrading a boiler, upgrading an elevator, repaving a road, updating the exterior siding or exterior painting are examples where money from the contingency reserve fund is used for. These types of expenditures must be approved by the owners of the complex. More info on CRF

Sometimes there are unexpected expenses such as capital expenditures on the common property such as a roof replacement or upgrading an elevator. Depending on how large the cost of the repair is, how much money the strata has agreed to take out from the CRF, the strata corporation can implement a ‘Special Levy’ that is due and payable by the owners of each strata lot to help cover the expenses. This is generally a lump sum which is divided amongst how many units are in a complex.

So these are the two main ways a strata pays for things. Either from money saved up from collecting strata fees, [which is then put in to the contingency reserve fund] or by everyone paying everything at once, or other words, special levy. 
View more info on special levies

Here is a link to First time strata owners
Find it fastStrata housing site map

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