Enforcing Strata Bylaws and Rules

The strata council or section executive is responsible for enforcing bylaws and rules. Enforcement can include fining owners or tenants.

Learn more on this page: 
Current Bylaws and Rules
Steps in the Enforcement Process
Privacy
Role of a Strata Property Manager
Fines and Other Enforcement Options 
Collecting Fines and the 2 Year Limitation Period

Current Bylaws and Rules

It is important for owners and tenants to understand what the strata corporation’s bylaws and rules are and to follow them. A section may also have bylaws and rules.

Section 120 of the Strata Property Act states: "The bylaws of the strata corporation are the Standard Bylaws except to the extent that different bylaws are filed in the land title office".

Strata owners or tenants may inspect or request a copy of the strata’s bylaws and rules. They must be given copies by the strata council and may be charged a maximum of 25 cents per page.

Tenants must be given the strata’s bylaws and rules by the landlord using a “Form K: Notice of Tenant’s Responsibilities”.  If the owner fails to give the tenant a Form K, the tenant is still responsible for following the bylaws and rules. (Learn more about tenants’ and landlords’ responsibilities in renting a strata.)

Steps  in the Enforcement Process

The following steps must be taken by parties in dealing with complaints of alleged bylaw and rule violations.

  1. A strata corporation must receive a complaint.
  2. The strata council must then give the alleged offender written notice of the complaint.
  3. If the alleged offender is a tenant, the strata council must also give the landlord and owner written notice of the complaint.
  4. The strata council must decide whether to proceed with enforcement.  It may give the alleged bylaw or rule offender a warning or time to comply with the bylaw or rule after the alleged offender receives the written notice.
  5. If the breach is corrected, the strata council may decide not to take any further steps or the strata council may proceed with further enforcement.
  6. If the strata council decides to proceed with enforcement, it must give the alleged offender a reasonable opportunity to respond to the complaint, including an opportunity to respond at a hearing at a strata council meeting, if requested. (Strata Property Regulation 7.2 defines hearing as "an opportunity to be heard in person at a council meeting" for the purposes of Section 135 (1) (e) of the Strata Property Act).
  7. If the alleged offender is a strata council member, that member must excuse himself or herself from the complaint process, unless all strata lot owners are on the strata council.
  8. Once the alleged offender has answered or been given a reasonable opportunity to answer the complaint, the strata council must decide whether a bylaw or rule has been broken by the alleged offender.
  9. If the strata council decides that a bylaw or rule has been broken, it must then decide how to enforce the bylaw or rule against the offender.
  10. Finally, the strata council must give written notice of its decision, “as soon as feasible” to: the offender or alleged offender; and the landlord and owner, if the offender or alleged offender is a tenant.

Note: the strata council may give the alleged rule or bylaw offender a warning at any time before proceeding with other enforcement options.

Bylaws and rules are unenforceable if they contravene the Strata Property Act, the Human Rights Code or other enactment or law.

Privacy

When enforcing bylaws and rules it is important to release information in a manner that respects both the Strata Property Act and the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA).

The Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) regulates privacy in the private sector including strata corporations. In June 2015, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia (“OIPC”) updated this guide (pdf) and FAQs (frequently asked questions) to help strata owners, residents, council members and managers understand how PIPA applies to strata corporations. 

The Role of a Strata Property  Manager

The strata council can hire a strata property manager to perform some or most of the functions of the strata council. However, if a strata council has delegated its powers to a strata manager, the strata council is still ultimately responsible for ensuring that its obligations under the Strata Property Act are fulfilled.

The strata corporation or section should check its bylaws with reference to the duties of the strata property manager. Under the Standard Bylaws (which may be amended), a strata manager cannot:

  • determine if a person has contravened a bylaw or rule
  • determine if a person should be fined or determine the amount of a fine for the contravention of the bylaws or rules or
  • determine if a person should be denied access to a recreational facility

In many strata corporations or sections the strata property manager will assist the strata council in enforcing the strata's bylaws and rules.

Fines  and other Enforcement Options  

If after following the proper steps, the strata council has determined that a breach of a bylaw or rule occurred, the council may do any of the following:

  • give the offender a warning
  • give the offender or landlord time to comply with the bylaw or rule that has been breached
  • impose a fine against an owner or tenant. Under Strata Property Regulation 7.1, the maximum amounts that a strata corporation may set out in its bylaws as a fine for the contravention of a bylaw or a rule are:

- $500 for a rental restriction bylaw breach
- $200 for any other bylaw breach 
- $50 for a breach of a rule

The strata or section’s bylaws may set out different maximum fines for breaches of different bylaws and rules. The fine must not exceed the maximum fine amount set out in the bylaws of the strata corporation or section.

The Standard Bylaws (which may be amended) permit a fine of up to $50 for a breach of a bylaw, and up to $10 for a breach of a rule and a fine imposed every 7 days for continuing contravention of a bylaw or rule.

  • Re-impose a fine. If a bylaw or rule contravention has resulted in fining the offender, fines may be re-imposed for a continuing contravention of a bylaw or rule without going through a new complaint process.

Under Strata Property Regulation 7.1,  the maximum frequency that a strata corporation may impose a fine for a continuing contravention, as set out in its bylaws, is once every 7 days. Fines can be re-imposed no more frequently than set out in the bylaws. Bylaws can be amended to decrease the frequency of once every 7 days but not to increase the frequency.  The Standard Bylaws (if these are the bylaws used by the strata corporation) provide that fines can be re-imposed once every 7 days for continuing contravention of a bylaw or rule. 

Owners and landlords can be fined for the conduct of their tenants. The strata corporation (or section) can collect the fine or costs from the tenant, the tenant’s landlord or the owner.  If the landlord pays some or all the fines or costs, the landlord can recover the same from the tenant.

Serious and repeated breaches by a residential tenant may give a landlord grounds to evict the tenant. The strata corporation may be able to evict a tenant who repeatedly breaches reasonable and significant bylaws and rules, if there is serious interference with the rights of another person in the strata development.

  • Restrict access to a recreational facility: this restriction may be against the strata lot owner, tenant, or an occupant or visitor who has breached the bylaws or rules.  The bylaw or rule breached must relate to the use of the recreational facility that is restricted; and the restriction can only be for a reasonable period of time.
  • Remedy the breach and recover all reasonable costs from the offender. The strata corporation may do what is reasonably necessary to remedy a contravention of its bylaws or rules including doing the work on or to a strata lot, the common property or common assets and removing objects from the common property or common assets.  The strata corporation may then require that the reasonable costs of the contravention be paid by the person who may be fined for the contravention of the bylaws or rules.

Collecting  Fines and the 2 Year Limitation Period

Strata corporations can collect fines and other costs incurred in remedying breaches by one of four ways:

  1. Going to the Civil Resolution Tribunal
  2. Suing the owner or tenant in court
  3. Arbitrating the matter or
  4. Refusing to produce a “Form F: Certificate of Payment” when an owner is selling a unit

Any of these actions must consider the limitation period. On June 1, 2013, the basic limitation period under the BC Limitation Act for debt collection changed to two years. For strata corporations this means that debts – including outstanding fines, special levies and strata fees – that become due and owing on or after June 1, 2013 are generally not collectable after a two year period. Prior to June 1, 2013 the previous limitation period of six years applies. For further advice on this topic please consult with a lawyer.

Some background information on how the limitation period affects stratas is also provided by: CCI Vancouver (pdf), Clark Wilson 2013 PowerPoint presentation, and Lesperance Mendes.

Using the Civil Resolution Tribunal

The strata corporation can collect fines by using the Civil Resolution Tribunal. The owner or tenant can also dispute the strata corporation's enforcement of the strata bylaws and rules, or inaction, by using the Civil Resolution Tribunal.

Withholding Form F

The strata corporation can collect fines by refusing to provide a “Form F: Certificate of Payment” to an owner or to a purchaser of an owner’s strata lot if amounts are owing to the strata corporation and arrangements to pay as set out in the Strata Property Act have not been made.  

Going to Court

The strata corporation can collect fines by suing the owner or tenant in court:

  • the strata corporation must give the owner or tenant and any mortgagee who has requested notice at least two weeks’ notice demanding payment and of its intention to sue if payment is not received
  • the owner or tenant may be able to pay money that is in dispute into court or to the strata corporation to hold in trust, if a court proceeding has started and
  • once a court order against the owner has been obtained, the strata corporation can enforce it against the owner through various collection methods permitted by law

Using Arbitration

The strata corporation can collect fines by arbitrating the matter:

  • the strata corporation must give the owner or tenant and any mortgagee who has requested notice at least two weeks' notice demanding payment and of its intention to initiate arbitration proceedings if payment is not received
  • the owner or tenant can pay money that is in dispute to the strata corporation to hold in trust if the arbitration proceeding has started and
  • an arbitrator’s decision may be filed in the Supreme Court if the amount awarded is over $25,000 or it may be filed in Small Claims Court, if the amount awarded is under $25,000. On being filed, it will have the same effect and all proceedings may be taken against the owner as if it were a court order

References
Strata Property Act: Sections 61, 112-118,121, 122, 125, 129-137, 146, 171, 173, 176, 177
Strata Property Regulations: 7.1
Standard Bylaws (which can be amended): 23

The information on this website about strata housing is provided for the user’s convenience as a basic starting point; it is not a substitute for getting legal advice. Learn more about the site’s purpose and limits. The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page: July 2016.