Tuesday, March 24, 2009

BC Strata Property Act Amendments

NEW B.C. LEGISLATION PROTECTS
STRATA OWNERS AND CONSUMERS

New amendments to the Strata Property Act will improve the dispute resolution process for strata corporations and strata owners, while offering greater protection for owners and consumers, Finance Minister Colin Hansen announced today.

“The amendments introduced today will streamline the dispute resolution process for strata property owners throughout British Columbia,” said Hansen. “They will provide more cost-effective and timely ways to resolve disputes. They also ensure owners and purchasers are better able to obtain information such as depreciation reports and audited financial statements.”

The most significant amendments relate to the dispute resolution processes available to strata corporations and strata owners under the Strata Property Act. There are three major changes proposed:

· Allow Small Claims Court to hear many strata property disputes, thereby ensuring disputes may be resolved in a timely and cost-effective manner. Presently, legal disputes may only be heard by the British Columbia Supreme Court;

· Provide the authority to establish improved arbitration processes as an alternative to going to court for resolution of strata disputes;

· Provide the authority to establish mediation as a new dispute resolution alternative, including the power to require mediation for certain disputes.

Other amendments to the act may prevent disputes from arising in the first place by increasing the availability of information and improving accountability for strata owners and purchasers. These measures include requiring a strata corporation to obtain depreciation reports and audited financial statements as well as enhancing owners’ rights to access this information.

The amendments also confirm the validity of age restriction bylaws in strata corporations by clarifying that they are permitted under the act.

The Strata Property Act provides a framework for the creation and operation of strata developments in British Columbia and sets out the guidelines under which strata corporations must operate.


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