Dear Tony: As new buyers, we have been looking at several condo buildings in South Vancouver and Richmond. For most of the properties, the strata councils have been very co-operative and willing to provide records and documents or access to their websites. We have come across two properties that required access through the management companies, and the cost of the records was extremely high. We requested copies of the deprecation reports and engineering reports and were informed there was a charge of $75 for each report and they would be transmitted to us electronically.
Our agent recommended we obtain the reports before we considered an offer. We cannot find out anywhere why some companies are permitted to charge fees and others are not.
Is there a limit for fees or is every condo or management company permitted to charge any amount?
Margaret Williams, Vancouver
There are several types of documents and two certificates managed by the strata that are important to buyers. The Form B Information Certificate provides information about the strata corporation. It includes general and financial information, including how parking and storage lockers are allocated, how many units in the property are currently rented, a copy of the rules of the corporation, judgements against the corporation and any pending lawsuits, pending special levies or levies approved that must be paid in the future, a copy of the most recent deprecation report, the annual budget and the amount of monthly strata fees.
The Form F Payment Certificate requires the strata corporation to disclose whether there are any fees due and payable by the seller to the corporation, but does not include damages or insurance deductibles owing to the strata corporation unless the strata corporation has obtained a judgement for those amounts.
In addition to the forms, buyers can request copies of documents such as engineering reports, the registered strata plan, the bylaws of the corporation, minutes of meetings and insurance documents, all of which provide critical information about the strata corporation.
The fees a strata corporation is permitted to charge for records are set within Strata Property Act and Regulations. As the agent, the strata management company is permitted to charge those fees on behalf of the corporation, and they are set at $35 for a Form B, $15 for a Form F, and 25 cents per page per copy of documents provided. A form must be provided within one week of the request, and the strata corporation is permitted to withhold the documents until the amount has been paid.
The management company is not permitted to charge additional fees, such as $75 per report, and is limited to 25 cents per page for copies.
If you have requested additional information, such as engineering reports, insurance documents, or other records such as minutes of meetings, the strata corporation can still charge 25 cents per copy and is required to provide those records within 14 days of the request.
If you are a buyer, request forms and information as early as possible. If you delay the request and the forms are required in less than seven days, you may either be exposed to rush fees or risk availability if a transaction is pending.
Rush-fee costs may be significantly higher and are either determined by the strata corporation or agreed to in the strata management service agreement.
Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association