Buying or renting property anywhere can bring up a lot of questions. It’s not just the amenities and monthly payments that people need to pay attention to. Bruce Strebinger is a successful real estate developer, and he’s had a lot of experience with the many types of housing in Canada. He explains why strata is such a popular choice in Canada and what people should know about these properties.
Strata Housing Types
Stratas are sometimes used synonymously with condos, but they can actually be duplexes, vacation properties, townhomes, or even single-family homes if they’re under strata subdivisions. Stratas are governed by a specific set of bylaws and rules, so it’s important for people to have an understanding of what they’re signing up for before they reside there.
As a multi-family developer, Bruce Strebinger says that because stratas are self-governed, there’s a lot to be said for knowing more about fellow owners or renters. Owners will need to set their budget, elect a council, and determine if they would like additional assistance from a property manager. They’re on their own in many ways, though there are higher housing authorities that will step in if need be.
Strata laws for owners are typically fairly straightforward. Because everyone shares responsibility for the common areas, people will need to decide amongst themselves how repairs are completed and how the administrative details are handled. If there are any disputes, they will need to be settled amongst the residents.
Bruce Strebinger explains that strata corporations will have a different set of rules. For instance, a corporation may be allowed to have both residential areas and commercial areas (e.g., a cafe or salon). The shareholders of a strata corporation may also be able to place age restrictions on residents, set quiet hours, forbid certain pets, restrict subletting, or ban smoking.
Strata corporations can end up having more power over matters, more so than people initially realize. As one might imagine, not everyone wants to have that kind of oversight. Strebinger says that strata councils are designed to help maintain property values, which is why they may deny requests to change floors, move walls, or make major changes to the electrical or plumbing system. (People may be fined if they make changes without permission or who break other rules of the strata bylaws.) It all depends on what people are looking out of their housing experience.
Bruce Strebinger on Strata Fees
Strata fees can go to any necessary expenses, including landscaping, repairs, maintenance, cleaning, and insurance. Bruce Strebinger advises anyone considering strata to factor in not just the starting fees, but how fees may rise over time to account for anything from inflation to fluctuating standard operating procedures. For owners who plan to be in the place for years on end, it’s worth asking about the historical changes or the predicted forecasts. Stratas can be an economical choice for many people, but there are things to know about how they work before getting involved.