Handling Emergencies in Strata Corporations

Like other home owners, strata owners and strata corporations need to be prepared to deal with emergencies ranging from water leaks and fires to natural disasters like floods and earthquakes. 

Learn more on this page:
Preparation and Planning
Special Provisions for Emergencies
Ensuring Safety and Preventing Losses

Preparation and Planning

Emergency preparedness advice applies to strata residents, e.g., have an earthquake kit, emergency contact numbers, and adequate homeowner's or renter's insurance. Learn more at Emergency Management BC and Get Prepared.

Strata corporations also have a key role in preparing for and responding to emergencies because they are responsible for the common property and assets, Equipment such as elevators, fire alarms and smoke detectors need to be properly maintained and periodically tested. Learn more from the CHOA's bulletin on disaster planning for strata corporations and residents (pdf). 

In the event of an emergency, strata councils should consider how they will be able to continue meeting business and legal obligations such as: paying bills, record-keeping, providing forms, etc. It's a good idea to have offsite back-ups of key information.

The strata corporation is also responsible for maintaining adequate insurance for the common property and assets and for informing strata lot owners about coverage and deductibles. In addition, individual strata lot owners and renters are responsible for their own personal insurance.

A good guide for strata (condo) emergency planning is The Legalities of Emergency Management. Good planning and quick, appropriate responses can potentially save the strata from considerable damage, avoid liability, and prevent injuries.

Special Provisions for Emergencies

The Strata Property Act has some exceptions for emergencies as outlined below:

  • To deal with an emergency, a strata council meeting can be called with less than the usual one week’s notice, as long as all council members either consent in advance or are unavailable to provide consent after reasonable attempts to contact them.
  • Under the Standard Bylaws (which can be amended), to ensure safety or prevent significant loss or damage owners and tenants must allow a person authorized by the strata corporation to enter their strata lot in an emergency even though no notice has been given.
  • If an owner fails to do the work required by a work order from a public authority, the strata corporation may do the work without giving the owner the usual one week’s notice if it is an emergency.

Ensuring Safety and Preventing Losses

The Strata Property Act and Standard Bylaws (which can be amended) recognize that, even short of an emergency, sometimes extraordinary measures may be needed to ensure safety or prevent significant loss or damage. The following exceptions help deal with such situations.

  • An expenditure may be made out of the operating fund or the contingency reserve fund (CRF) without the normally required vote to approve, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that an immediate expenditure is necessary to ensure safety or prevent significant loss or damage, whether physical or otherwise. The strata corporation must not exceed the minimum amount needed and must inform owners as soon as feasible about any such expenditures.
  • Under the Standard Bylaws (which can be amended), even if a strata council member has not been delegated the authority to do so, he or she may spend strata corporation funds to repair or replace common property or common assets if it is immediately required to ensure safety or prevent significant loss or damage.
  • Where a resolution required to be passed by 3/4 vote is passed by persons holding less than 50 percent of the strata corporation’s votes, the strata corporation does not need to wait one week to implement the resolution when there are reasonable grounds to believe that immediate action is necessary to ensure safety or prevent significant loss or damage.
  • The strata corporation may make a significant change in the use or appearance of common property or land that is a common asset if there are reasonable grounds to believe that immediate change is necessary to ensure safety or prevent significant loss or damage.
  • When a loss has occurred, it is important to note that strata corporation approval is not required for either a special levy or an expenditure from the contingency reserve fund (CRF) to cover an insurance deductible required to be paid by the strata corporation to repair or replace damaged property, unless the strata corporation has decided not to repair or replace the property.

References:
Sections of the Act: 3, 51, 71, 84, 85, 98, 158, 159
Standard Bylaws (which can be amended): 7, 14, 21

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: December 12, 2016.