Determining the Boundaries of Common Property: Implications for Repairs, Maintenance and Alterations


Determining what constitutes common property, limited common property and strata lot property has significant implications for both the repair and maintenance of your condominium, as well as the permissions that must be obtained before alterations can occur.

Common Property, Limited Common Property and Strata Lot Property

The boundaries of common property, limited common property and strata lot property are not always clear. This can lead to confusion and disagreements between strata councils and individual owners. The instances of disagreement are likely to increase as the Act now mandates that strata corporations must obtain Depreciation Reports that provide an inventory of the common property, limited common property and common assets of the strata corporation.

The Act provides the following definition of common property:

    (a) that part of the land and buildings shown on a strata plan that is not part of a strata lot, and
    (b) pipes, wires, cables, chutes, ducts and other facilities for the passage or provision of water, sewage, drainage, gas, oil, electricity, telephone, radio, television, garbage, heating and cooling systems, or other similar services, if they are located

      (i) within a floor, wall or ceiling that forms a boundary

        (A) between a strata lot and another strata lot,
        (B) between a strata lot and the common property, or
        (C) between a strata lot or common property and another parcel of land, or

      (ii) wholly or partially within a strata lot, if they are capable of being and intended to be used in connection with the enjoyment of another strata lot or the common property;

The boundaries of a strata lot are determined by reference to the registered strata plan and section 68 of the Act. The registered strata plan will show the boundaries of each strata lot. Section 68 of the Act further provides:

  • Unless otherwise shown on the strata plan, if a strata lot is separated from another strata lot, the common property or another parcel of land by a wall, floor or ceiling, the boundary of the strata lot is midway between the surface of the structural portion of the wall, floor or ceiling that faces the strata lot and the surface of the structural portion of the wall, floor or ceiling that faces the other strata lot, the common property or the other parcel of land.

The registered strata plan also designates the boundaries of limited common property.

Repairs and Maintenance

The schedule of standard bylaws (the “Standard Bylaws”) is found at the end of the Strata Property Act (the “Act”).

Section 2 of the Standard Bylaws provides that an owner is responsible for repairing and maintaining their strata lot and limited common property which has been assigned to their exclusive use unless the repairs and maintenance are the responsibility of the strata corporation.

Section 8 of the Standard Bylaws provides that the strata corporation must repair and maintain common property and common assets. Section 8 also provides that the strata corporation must provide repairs and maintenance to limited common property or strata lot property in the following circumstances:

  • Repairs and maintenance that are of a type that normally occurs less than once a year.
  • Repairs and maintenance of the following assemblies if located on limited common property or strata lot property:
    • the structure of a building;
    • the exterior of a building;
    • chimneys, stairs, balconies and other things attached to the exterior of a building;
    • doors, windows and skylights on the exterior of a building or that front on the common property; and
    • fences, railings and similar structures that enclose patios, balconies and yards.

Section 72(3) of the Act, permits a strata corporation to amend responsibility for repairs and maintenance in certain limited circumstances.

Alterations

Sections 5 and 6 of the Standards Bylaws set out the procedure that must be followed for an owner to obtain approval to alter common property, limited common property and strata lot property. These sections are frequently amended by strata corporations that wish to provide a more robust approval process.

Strata Governance

Every strata corporation is presented with unique circumstances that must be considered in the determination of what constitutes common property.

To facilitate this determination, the following documentation should be consulted:

  • The current strata plan;
  • The as-built building plans;
  • The Act;
  • The Standard Bylaws; and
  • The current by-laws (to see if and how the Standard Bylaws were amended).

Failure to consider the above documentation could lead to false assumptions about the boundaries of and responsibility for common property, limited common property and strata lot property. This in turn can result in misunderstandings and conflicts between strata corporations and the individual owners.

How we can help

BEST Consultants specializes in the field of Building Science and Engineering and can assist in identifying common property (within the context of a Depreciation Report or otherwise), reviewing maintenance programs, and advising strata councils on how to mitigate potential damage to the building and its systems. Any questions pertaining to building science or engineering services can be forwarded to Alexandre Bouchard, P.Eng. at abouchard@bestbse.ca or by phone at 604-356-5022.

Lesperance Mendes Lawyers assists strata corporations and owners on strata governance and construction matters. Any questions pertaining to the responsibility for repairs and maintenance or permissions required in order to facilitate alterations can be directed to Sat D. Harwood at sdh@lmlaw.ca or by phone at 604-685-3550.