Resolving Disputes within the Strata
While disputes may arise, many disputes can be resolved informally within the strata corporation. It is often simpler and less expensive to solve disputes informally.
Learn more on this page:
Informal Ways to Resolve Disputes
Requesting a Strata Council Hearing
Calling a Special General Meeting
Placing an Item on the Agenda of a General Meeting
Voluntary Dispute Resolution
There are informal approaches to resolve disputes that can result in a fair and reasonable agreement.
For example, if someone is smoking in a common area despite bylaws prohibiting this, you may choose to kindly remind them of the bylaw. If that doesn't help, you can notify your strata council and have them follow up with the owner of the strata unit. In some stratas complaints concerning bylaws go to the strata property manager.
All strata corporations have bylaws and must enforce their strata bylaws. Learn more about strata bylaw enforcement.
Another option is to ask to attend a strata council meeting to let your council know about the issue and discuss your concerns informally with them. This lets the council know your concerns and helps to ensure everyone hears the same information and has a shared understanding of the problem.
Concerns can also be presented to the strata council in writing.
If these types of informal methods do not resolve your concern, you might want to consider more formal approaches, such as requesting a strata council hearing.
The Strata Property Act provides that an owner or tenant may request a hearing at a strata council meeting. A hearing means an opportunity to be heard in person.
The Strata Property Act states that:
- the owner or tenant must apply for a hearing and state the reason for the request in writing
- the strata council must hold the hearing within four weeks of the request
- if a decision was requested, the strata council must give the applicant a written decision within one week of the hearing
The special general meeting can be used as a forum to discuss issues of concern and to resolve the matters as appropriate.
In order to request a special general meeting the owner or tenant must present the strata council with a written demand signed by persons holding at least 20% of the strata corporation’s votes.
Once the request has been presented:
- the strata council has four weeks from the date of the request to hold the special general meeting
- unless all the eligible voters, in writing, waive the need to hold the meeting and consent to the resolution, if the meeting is not held within four weeks, the persons who have signed the demand for the meeting may call and hold the meeting
- the resolution or other matter specified in the demand for the meeting must be the first item on the meeting’s agenda
At the general meeting the resolution or concern will be raised and the strata lot owners attending the meeting can be requested to resolve the matter.
The strata lot owners could, by majority vote direct or restrict the actions of the strata council, except in the following circumstances:
- when the direction or restriction is contrary to the Strata Property Act, Regulations or the bylaws
- when the direction or restriction interferes with the council’s discretion to determine:
- whether a person has contravened the bylaws, should be fined and the amount of the fine
- whether the person should be denied access to a recreational facility
- whether a person should be required to pay the reasonable costs of remedying a contravention of the bylaws or rules
- whether an owner should be exempted from a bylaw that prohibits or limits rentals
Additionally, for resolutions requiring a 3/4 vote, if the proposed resolution was included with the notice of the meeting, the owners could pass resolutions:
- to designate certain common property as limited common property or to change the use of certain common property
- to cancel the strata management contract or
- any other resolution that would resolve the matter
For residential strata corporations, amendments require a unanimous vote if bylaws are changed before the second annual general meeting; if the strata lots are non-residential, bylaws may be amended prior to the second AGM by a ¾ vote or some other voting threshold set out in a bylaw.
If the matter is not urgent, an owner or tenant can propose a resolution or matter to be included at the next annual or special general meeting as follows:
- the owner or tenant must present the strata council with a written demand signed by persons holding at least 20% of the strata corporation’s votes
- the resolution or matter raised in the written demand must be included in the notice of the meeting and appear on the agenda
The Standard Bylaws (which may be amended) provide a voluntary process for resolving disputes.
A dispute may be referred to a dispute resolution committee if the dispute involves the Strata Property Act, regulations, bylaws or rules.
It is the role of the dispute resolution committee to attempt to help disputing parties voluntarily end the dispute. A dispute resolution committee can be made up of:
- one owner or tenant of the strata corporation nominated by each of the disputing parties and
- one owner or tenant to chair the committee chosen by the persons who were nominated by the disputing parties or
- any number of persons consented to, or chosen by a method that is consented to, by all the disputing parties
Both parties must agree to use the dispute resolution process. One of the parties to the dispute resolution must request that the dispute be referred to a dispute resolution committee and obtain the consent of the other party or parties to participate in the process.
If the other party or parties do not consent to refer the dispute to a dispute resolution committee, no further steps can be taken in this process.
When a voluntary dispute resolution process exists in the bylaws and is used, the Strata Property Act provides that:
- an admission, statement, document or record made only for the purposes of the voluntary dispute resolution process may not be used in court, in an arbitration or in any other proceeding and
- a voluntary dispute resolution process must not (a) require the person to use the process, (b) confer on a person or body the power to make a binding decision, and (c) affect a person’s powers, duties, or rights including the right to sue or arbitrate
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 12, 2016.