Condo Smarts: Trouble in the parking lot

New laws coming into effect next January will help settle the questions of which parking spaces belong to which strata units. Tony Gioventu says seminars are in the works to help condo dwellers negotiate these tricky issues.

Dear Condo Smarts: Could you please tell us how we can confirm what parking spaces are permanently allocated to a strata lot before we purchase a unit? We have been viewing a number of condos in Vancouver over the past month, and it is almost impossible to confirm the parking allocations.

One seller has indicated that they have three parking spaces with their unit, and listed the actual numbers. When we asked the manager about the parking allocations, the manager indicated they could not confirm the allocation of those spaces because the strata corporation was in the process of developing a parking plan. The manager was also surprised that the unit identified three parking spaces, especially in consideration of the shortage of parking in the building, and people being on waiting lists to rent the additional spaces.

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The manager indicated that there will be some changes in the legislation, and once they are law, the strata will hopefully be able to provide better accuracy. Is it even possible to guarantee the parking?

Gillian Crawford

Dear Gillian: There is a legislation change that comes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, that will have a significant impact on the information provided to persons requesting Form B Information Certificates. The form will require that the strata corporation must identify: a) If there are any parking stalls allocated to a strata lot; b) whether or not parking stalls are available; c) if they are assigned, identify the type of designation on the strata plan; d) who they are/were allocated by; e) if parking spaces are available for rent and at what cost.

It is important to understand that parking may be common property, limited common property, part of a strata lot, a separate strata lot, or common property that has been allocated under a lease or licence by the owner-developer.

There may also be parking allocated for use in a separate strata corporation, where several strata corporations share the same parking lot, and parking allocation and use is created under an easement or covenant between the properties.

Storage lockers will have much the same type of disclosure requirement.

For strata buyers and sellers, this is to provide some much-needed clarity around parking-space and storage-locker ownership, use and allocation. Unless the parking is part of a registered strata lot, separate strata lot or limited common property on the strata plan or Land Title Registry, it is unlikely you will be able to confirm the exact parking allocated to the unit of interest.

Strata corporations need to pay close attention to these regulation changes.

There is a significant amount of work to do for every type of strata, including bare land strata corporations or townhouse complexes with additional rental parking, visitor parking and RV and boat storage parking.

Strata councils are finding that they are having to take an inventory of their parking, survey their owners and determine who has what spaces allocated for their use, if owner-developer assignments under leases or licences have ever occurred, what those assignments constitute, and identify the allocation of parking on registered strata plans.

This transition is likely to uncover some surprises for strata councils and strata owners.

For example, a highrise building in Burnaby conducted a survey of the owners’ parking allocations to discover claims on 17 more parking stalls than actually exist.

The Condominium Home Owners’ Association of B.C. has created an information bulletin on parking spaces and storage lockers that includes a sample of the Form B that is not in effect until Jan. 1, 2014. CHOA spring seminars will also be including a session on identifying parking spaces and storage lockers for 2014. Go to www.choa.bc.ca

Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners’ Association. Send questions to him by email.

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