Every week, city bylaws are being changed, or we a get a new garbage schedule, or a lawn watering restriction. I have often asked myself – How Much Regulation Can You Live With ?
Now in a covid19 pandemic, we have more regulations, like wearing face masks, social distancing, and a reduction of our socializing, from pre-covid days.
All this on top of maybe loosing your job, being behind in rent, or having to move in with the in-laws.
Strata Bylaws and Rules
Another set of regulations that more and more people are agreeing to and living with, is Strata Bylaws and Rules, for anyone who owns or rents a strata unit.
In the province of BC, Canada, there are more than 31,000 strata complexes. They have been around for about 50 years. There are more strata units now being built than single family homes in BC.
The industry has made a lot of progress towards improving bylaws and rules, but it comes with a lot of frustration, if you have to deal with another owner who breaks the bylaws or rules.
There Not Making Land Anymore
There not making land in BC anymore. The price gets higher each year. It means that young families need to start their home ownership, by purchasing a strata unit, building up equity, selling for a profit and hopefully move into a single family home. Although I know strata owners who do not aspire to single family home ownership.
Strata Bylaws Add A Lot of Regulation To Your Life
Accepting the bylaws when we purchased our unit, did not seem like it a big deal at the time. But looking back on it, that was a large amount of additional regulation that we agreed to, and had to abide by as long as we lived in the strata.
Our Strata Experience
We purchased our first townhouse strata unit six years ago. A small complex with under 20 units. There had been a lot of politics dividing the owners, and they had divided into a two camps.
I was asked to go on council, and became President. I had to learn the various aspects of the complicated Strata Property Act (SPA). I quickly learned that the maintenance of the buildings is the easy part. It is governing the bylaws of people behaviour that can often be the bigger problem.
I toughed it out for five years, and we sold out strata townhouse to move back to a single family home. I have regained a few hours a day of my time.
Civil Resolution Tribunal – CRT
An excellent improvement in strataland is the development of the Civil Resolution Tribunal. For unresolved disagreements between an owner and the council, or vice versa, the parties must go thru the CRT.
This is another level of the court system, which is low cost and fast. A case can cost a maximum of $200. and about 2 months to be decided.
It is done online and no one has to appear in person. The decision is binding on the parties, and if the decision is not abided by, the winning party can take the decision to the Supreme Court to have the offending party held accountable to the decision.
If the case gets to this point, the strata will have to pay full price legal fees for a lawyer to represent them in court.
If they still refuse to abide by the CRT decision, a judge among other things, can have the offender put in jail, or ordered to sell their strata unit.
The CRT decision are published on their website at –
I found reading through some of the decisions, that the decisions are very detailed in the logic and conclusion.
Forego Some Rights
One case involved a smoker who smoked on his balcony. The smoke rose up to the unit above his, where the owner was allergic to smoke, and had submitted a case to the CRT.
The CRT ruled that the smoker needed to stop smoking. The smoker countered that it was against his Canadian Bill of Rights.
The decision from the CRT came back that when you live in a strata, you give up some of your Rights, in favor of the strata.
I’m OK With The Bylaws
As I read the bylaws before I purchased the unit, I thought I am OK with the bylaws. Only a certain number of pets, certain age restrictions on who can live there, no rental units, and many other standards bylaws.
But Your Neighbour Is Not OK With The Bylaws
What I did not realize is that when another owner decides that he or she will not abide by them, then that person(s) creates a lot of work, frustration and sometimes money for the other strata owners and the council. And some of those headaches can take time to resolve.
One case I have heard of, involved an owner who had bird feeders on their second floor balcony. A bylaw existed against feeding any animals or birds, but the owner continued to do it. The bird seed attracting rats, climbing up the eaves troughs to feed. This caused the council time and money to do pest control.
How Much Regulation Is Too Much ?
Based on the large number of strata cases that go to the CRT each year, it seems to me that some strata owners at some point can no longer abide by the bylaws and rules, and decide to break the bylaws.
This is what causes the submission of the case to the CRT. From my experience when a case goes to the CRT, the offending party, is emotional vested in his position of non-compliance, and it is only a legal judgment that forces them to comply. Even then, they probably have not changed their mind.
Regulation is part of living in an civil society. It is not going away.
But we have breaking points too. We can only deal with so much regulation. When people are under higher than average stress in their lives, some bad behaviour can happen.
I have always tried to reduce stress in my life. But sometimes you can’t. Living in a strata unit can force you to give up something you love, because a bylaw says so. You need to decide if you can live happily, or will it make you miserable.