A commentary by a strata property owner in Victoria.
I think the Dec. 2. commentary “B.C.’s strata property law aims at the wrong target” has missed several points, about the purpose of the Strata Property Act.
I too am a strata property owner in a building built pre-2010. I was also the president of our strata council for a couple of years. About 10 per cent of the units in our 84-unit building are rented.
Perhaps it’s just the numbers but we have had way more issues created by owners than by our renters.
I think the purpose of the changes made by the NDP government under Premier David Eby are commendable.
There is a lack of available housing in our city for working people. We need to expand the housing options for our citizens who want to contribute to our city. We have a shortage of people who work in health care and education and all of those others who provide the services we depend on.
They should not have to commute long distances and degrade the environment while we build housing farther and farther away in a never-ending urban sprawl that covers the recreation and agricultural land we all value.
If people want to buy up multiple properties and leave them empty while watching their equity grow in an inflating market, that is simply speculation and I am happy to see that behaviour taxed to the hilt.
The new law that forces owners to either live in their units, rent their vacant properties, sell them or pay extraordinarily punitive taxes is on the right track.
When someone has owned a vacant property for 20 years for when they retire, as the author of the commentary states, they need to make a decision.
If they don’t want to be a landlord or live in the property themselves they should sell to a person trying to get into the market.
A number of properties coming onto the market may help to lower the prices and allow people to become home owners. The occupants will be spending money and paying taxes in their community and the community will benefit.
Also any unit the new owners vacated will be available for someone else.
Owners in previously owner-occupied buildings will want to ensure that their bylaws conform with the new law but also protect the values of their properties.
They should pass bylaws to make sure that the landlords of rented units pay for any added costs and that short-term rentals are not allowed.
The costs of wear and tear of moving in and out should be underwritten by the landlords, not the other strata holders. If an unsuitable tenant is rented to, it should be the landlord who compensates the strata for any costs in informing the tenant of the need for changes or for the eviction of the tenant.
Your strata council would be well advised to hire a good property management company to help navigate these issues.