New BC rules boost minimum strata corporations must put aside for contingencies

The BC government is making changes to the regulations governing how much money strata corporations must contribute to reserve funds.

Strata corporations in BC are required to maintain a contingency reserve fund to cover expenses such as maintenance work and emergencies.

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Under the changes, stratas will now have to contribute at least 10 percent of their annual operating budget expenses every year, up from five percent. The changes take effect in November.

In a media release, Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said the majority of strata corporations were already contributing, but the changes remained necessary.

Click to play video: 'BC increasing minimum strata contingency reserve fund contributions'

BC increasing minimum strata contingency reserve fund contributions

“A small number of strata corporations that are underfunding their contingency funds and putting owners at risk of surprise fee hikes and higher insurance costs,” he said.

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“While the vast majority of strata corporations are already meeting these requirements, we’re ensuring that those outliers are taking steps to protect themselves.”

Condominium Homeowners Association executive director Tony Gioventu said the changes address a “hangover” from old legislation, and acknowledged that BC’s aging stock of condos will need more reserves going forward.

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“Here’s the problem — as buildings age, components start to accelerate to break down faster, and we need more money in the reserves,” he said.

“The problem with not having sufficient contributions or sufficient budgets is you will find you are going to have a lot more special levies, and with communities that don’t want increased strata fees, it’s harder and harder to approve special levies, repairs get deferred , and so people end up spending actually a lot more money than if they’d actually planned their renewals.”

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Gioventu said the old regulations were confusing to many strata corporations, 99 percent of whom were already contributing at least 10 percent.

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The changes announced Tuesday will also require developers to contribute at least 10 percent of operating expenses to a new building’s interim budget.

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The province said the move will prevent developers from advertising “unrealistically low” strata fees to would-be buyers and cut down on unexpected strata fee hikes in the building’s early years.

An additional change, which will take effect on April 1, will require strata corporations to detail their insurance coverage on a document known as the Form B Information Certificate.

Gioventu said the change will allow buyers to get a good look at the building’s insurance history, including claims and deductibles, which will allow them to better understand future costs and maintenance history.

There are an estimated 34,000 strata corporations representing about one million units across BC

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