Strata Bylaws and Rules Explained
All strata corporations must have bylaws and may have rules. Sections may also have bylaws and rules for some matters. Bylaws and rules apply to owners, tenants and people living with or visiting owners and tenants. The strata council (or section executive) is responsible for enforcing bylaws and rules.
Bylaws and rules affect the strata lot owner's (and tenant's) rights and responsibilities and set out what the strata corporation will be like to live in and how it is administered. Bylaws and rules also apply to visitors.
Bylaws and rules are one of the ways that living in a strata is not the same as living in housing that is non-strata titled.
Bylaws can cover many different areas including strata lots and common areas. The purpose of bylaws is to provide for the administration of the strata corporation and for the control, management, maintenance, use and enjoyment of the strata lots, common property and common assets of the strata corporation.
Rules can be created to govern the use, safety and condition of the common property and common assets. Rules cannot govern the use of strata lots, only bylaws can do this.
Strata corporations (and sections) must enforce their bylaws and rules; this can include fining strata owners and residents who don’t follow the strata's bylaws and rules.
There is a set of Standard Bylaws developed by the provincial government. The Standard Bylaws are the “default” bylaws for a strata corporation. 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".
There are two ways a strata's bylaws (or a section's bylaws) may differ from the Standard Bylaws:
- Different bylaws can be filed by the owner developer with the Land Title Office.
- The strata corporation, or section, may amend (change, create or delete) bylaws through a 3/4 vote of the owners and file the amendments in the Land Title Office. (Learn more about Amending Bylaws and Rules).
Although the Standard Bylaws are the "default" bylaws, stratas often have bylaws that differ in some or many ways from the Standard Bylaws. There may also be different bylaws for a section. The different bylaws reflect the strata corporation's shared values and life style.
For example, bylaws can allow certain types of pets, establish quiet hours, limit smoking in common areas or throughout a development, restrict the rental of residential units, even specify the type of window coverings.
Bylaws may require strata lot owners to get written permission from the strata council before making changes to their strata lot, such as moving walls, changing flooring or making plumbing or electrical changes. In bare land strata corporations there may be bylaws such as restricting the parking of RVs (recreational vehicles) or specifying the colour of front doors. Some strata corporations also have age-restriction bylaws.
Rules are different from bylaws. Rules can be created to govern the use, safety and condition of the common property and common assets. Rules may not govern the use of strata lots, only bylaws can govern the use of strata lots.
For example, specifying the type of window coverings in a strata lot could not be a rule, it could only be a bylaw. On the other hand, requiring dogs to be leashed in common areas could either be a rule or a bylaw.
If a rule conflicts with a bylaw of the strata corporation, the bylaw prevails.
A strata council can create a rule without consulting owners and it applies to owners, tenants and visitors until the next annual general meeting (AGM), or special general meeting (SGM), if the SGM occurs before the AGM. At the general meeting, the rule must be ratified by a majority vote or it ceases to have effect.
Once a rule has been ratified at a general meeting by majority vote it is effective until it is repealed, replaced or altered, without the need for further ratification.
Rules have lower fines than bylaws. Under the Strata Property regulations, the maximum fine that the strata corporation may set in its bylaws is $50 for contravention of a rule. The strata corporation's bylaws may only allow a maximum frequency of every 7 days for contravention of a rule. (Learn more about Enforcing Bylaws and Rules).
When making rules the strata council must:
- set out all rules in a written document that can be photocopied and
- inform owners and tenants of any new rules as soon as feasible
A rule cannot impose a user fee until it has been ratified by majority vote by owners. Although section 110 of the Strata Property Act and Strata Property Regulation 6.9 permit a strata corporation to adopt a rule to impose a user fee with respect to common property or a common asset, the rule and the fee are not enforceable until the rule has been ratified by the owners at the next annual general meeting after the rule was adopted by the council.
Sections may also have bylaws and rules. The strata corporation’s bylaws apply to a section unless different section bylaws were filed by the owner developer or the section has amended the bylaws. Only a bylaw that relates solely to a section may be amended by that section. Sections may also create bylaws to govern matters within the section.
It is important for owners and tenants to know what the bylaws and rules are for their strata corporation (and section if applicable).
Bylaws that are different from the Standard Bylaws must be filed at the Land Title Office to be effective. Amended bylaws, once they are received by the Land Title Office, are recorded in the general index. Sometimes strata corporations will consult a lawyer and file consolidated bylaws, as per the lawyer's direction, at the Land Title Office, in order to make it easier to understand what bylaws, and any amendments, are in effect.
A strata corporation or section:
- must provide access to its bylaws and rules to every owner and tenant and to a person authorized in writing by an owner or tenant
- must also provide access to its bylaws and rules to a former owner, or in some cases to a former tenant, or to a person authorized in writing by a former owner or tenant
- must provide access within one week (in practice this is eight days)
There may be a maximum charge of 25 cents per page and the payment can be requested in advance.
Tenants must be given the bylaws by the landlord as part of issuing “Form K: Notice of Tenant’s Responsibilities”. Find out more in Renting a Strata.
Understanding bylaws and rules is an important part of living in strata housing or owning a strata lot.
Sections of the Strata Property Act: 28, 45, 50, 51, 119-128, 132, 143, 197
Strata Property Regulation: 7.1
Standard Bylaws (unless these have been amended)
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.