Condominiums and Townhomes are strata properties. This means that individual units on the property are owned separately, but all owners share ownership of the common space.
Your rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) are the same as any other tenant. However, there will be some additional considerations because of the Strata Property Act and your strata’s particular bylaws and rules.
Bylaws, Rules and Form K
Before a landlord rents a strata property, they are required to give prospective tenants a copy of:
- the current bylaws and rules, and
- a Notice of Tenant’s Responsibilities, known as “Form K”
Tenants are required to sign Form K when they sign a tenancy agreement, and the landlord must give a copy to the strata corporation.
If a landlord does not give a tenant a copy of the current bylaws and rules or Form K, the Strata Property Act says that a tenant must still comply with the rules and bylaws. But, if you find out that your landlord did not give you a copy before entering into a tenancy agreement, you are allowed to end the tenancy by giving your landlord written notice within 90 days. If you do this, your landlord must pay your moving costs, up to one month’s rent.
Fines and Fees
You may have to pay a fine if you do not follow the strata bylaws or rules, and you may be required to pay move-in and move-out fees to the strata council.
Under the Strata Property Act, a strata corporation is allowed to give a tenant a one month Notice to End Tenancy (eviction notice) if the tenant repeatedly violates significant bylaws or rules in a way that seriously interferes with another person’s use and enjoyment of the strata lot, common property, or common assets.
What complicates matters is that the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) does not consider a strata corporation to fit the definition of “landlord” according to the Residential Tenancy Act. This means that it may be difficult for a tenant to dispute an eviction notice that has been served by a strata corporation through the RTB’s dispute resolution service. At the same time, a strata corporation may not be able to apply for an Order of Possession in order to enforce an eviction notice through dispute resolution.
Generally speaking, you (as the tenant) should be dealing with your landlord, and your landlord (as the owner) should be dealing with the strata corporation.
Responsibility to make repairs will depend on the strata’s bylaws and where the repairs are needed. Landlords are generally responsible for repairs inside of the unit, while the strata corporation is generally responsible for repairs outside of the unit. When repairs are needed, it will be important to read through the strata’s bylaws. Regardless of who is required to make the repair, you are always responsible for telling your landlord right away when a repair is needed. See our page on Repairs and Maintenance for more information.
All tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment of their rental unit, even if they rent a condo. Quiet enjoyment includes privacy, and freedom from unreasonable noise and disturbances. In a traditional apartment building, the landlord must ensure that all tenants have quiet enjoyment. This means that when there is a disturbance from another tenant, the landlord is responsible for ensuring that it stops. In a condo building, however, the landlord is probably not the owner of the other units. The landlord should inform the strata corporation of the problem, but it may be up to the strata corporation to decide what to do about it.
Another complicated area is discrimination in condos. The BC Human Rights Code, states the grounds on which landlords are not allowed to discriminate, however, strata corporations have the right to put certain restrictions on who can live in their buildings. As a result, a strata council’s restrictions sometimes contradict the BC Human Rights Code in regards to landlords and tenants.
A common example of this is an age or kids restriction. The BC Human Rights Code prohibits landlords from discriminating against a tenant because of their age or family status. The one exception is if a building is designated for seniors aged 55 or older. A strata corporation, however, can refuse to let kids live in their building. This restriction would mean that the owner of a strata unit could not have kids, and that a potential purchaser would not be allowed to buy a condo in the building if they have kids. However, because it would be a violation of the BC Human Rights Code for a landlord to refuse to rent to a tenant based on their family status, the strata’s restrictions may not apply to tenants.
The rules around renting in strata buildings can be very complicated. If you live in a condo or townhome and find yourself in a dispute, you may need to seek legal advice from a lawyer.