To regulate the common property or a common asset, a strata corporation may pass a rule instead of a bylaw.
Under the Strata Property Act, the term rules replaces the phrase rules and regulations in the former Condominium Act. In the past, most people informally referred to rules and regulations as regulations.
A rule or regulation created before the Strata Property Act came into force, and existing at that time, is deemed to be a rule under the Act. 1
For simplicity, we use the term rules, being the term used in the Strata Property Act. According to section 125 of the Act, rules may only regulate the use, safety and condition of common property and common assets. 2 A rule cannot regulate the use of a strata lot; for that, a bylaw is necessary.
Making a Rule
The strata council may make a rule. Subject to a strata corporation’s bylaws, it is not necessary for a strata council to give the owners any advance notice of its intention to create a rule, or to follow any special procedure in the council’s proceedings. The strata council may create a rule by majority vote, unless the bylaws governing the strata council’s procedure require a different voting threshold. 3
As soon as a strata council creates a rule, however, council must promptly inform the owners about it. A rule must be set out in a written document that is capable of being photocopied, including any rule that is posted on a sign. 4 In the case of resident owners or tenants, the Strata Property Act permits a strata corporation to inform the development’s residents by any method, including: 5
- (a) leaving a document containing the information at a location designated by the strata corporation for the distribution of such information; or
- (b) posting a document containing the information in a part of the common property designated by the strata corporation for the posting of such information.
In other words, it is not necessary for a strata corporation to formally deliver a notice to each resident owner or tenant, if the corporation uses one of these or any other reasonable method to inform the residents. Of course, the strata corporation must still formally notify any non-resident owner or tenant who is entitled to be informed. The requirements for delivering notice are explained in Chapter 12, Meetings.
After the strata council creates a rule, it has a limited lifespan unless a majority of eligible voters approve the rule. A rule ceases to have effect at the first annual general meeting (“AGM”) held after council made the rule unless the eligible voters ratify the rule by majority vote at that meeting or at an earlier general meeting. After the rule is ratified, it remains in force until it is repealed, replaced or altered. 6
Amending a Rule
The Strata Property Act does not set out a procedure for altering or repealing a rule. Presumably, the same procedure for making a rule governs amendments to that rule. In other words, it appears that the strata council may alter or repeal a rule, but the change must later be ratified by majority vote at a general meeting on or before the next AGM.
When Does a Rule Apply?
Apart from one exception, when a strata council creates a rule, the rule is effective immediately even though the owners must later ratify it at the next AGM. The exception occurs where the wording of the rule itself delays its implementation until a later date. Even where implementation is delayed, the owners must still ratify the new rule in accordance with the Strata Property Act.
The Strata Property Act contains some restrictions on the extent to which a rule is enforceable.
1. A rule is not enforceable if it contravenes the Strata Property Act, the regulations, the Human Rights Code or any other law. 7 Suppose, for instance, that the strata corporation owns a strata lot in the strata plan that the corporation uses as a guest suite for the visitors of owners and tenants. The Strata Property Act requires the approval of the eligible voters by a 3/4 vote before the strata corporation makes a significant change in the use or appearance of common property or land that is a common asset. 8 If the strata council passed a rule converting the unit from a guest facility to a caretaker’s suite, the rule would not be enforceable. The rule violates the provision of the Strata Property Act requiring prior approval by the eligible voters. The owners cannot solve the problem by ratifying the rule by majority vote because the rule still violates the Act in the absence of approval by 3/4 vote.
2. A rule is not enforceable if it destroys or modifies certain easements under the Strata Property Act. The Act creates various easements, among other things, to protect the vertical and horizontal support given by the common property to adjacent strata lots. 9
3. The Strata Property Act says a rule is not enforceable if it prohibits or restricts the right of an owner of a strata lot to freely sell, lease, mortgage or otherwise dispose of his or her strata lot. 10 At first glance, this provision is hard to understand because a rule may only regulate the use of common property or a common asset, not the use of a strata lot. One can imagine, however, a rule governing “for sale” signs posted on the strata corporation’s common property. The rule in this example regulates the use of common property, but the rule may affect an owner’s ability to freely sell his or her strata lot.
4. If a rule conflicts with a bylaw, the bylaw prevails. 11
Impact of the Strata Property Act
The Strata Property Act may limit the enforceability of some rules made before the Act came into force.
Although the Strata Property Act came into force on July 1, 2000, there was a grace period for all rules that were already in existence on that date. During the grace period, rules already in existence continued to operate, even if they conflicted with the Act or the regulations. The grace period ended on the last day of 2001. 12
Effective January 1, 2002, rules that existed when the Strata Property Act came into force continue to operate, with one exception. In any case where such a rule conflicts with Parts 1 through 17 of the Strata Property Act (in other words, everything in the Strata Property Act, except the Schedule of Standard Bylaws at the back of the statute), the regulations, or a bylaw, that rule ceases to have effect to the extent of the conflict. 13
For instance, before July 1, 2000, when the Strata Property Act came into force, a strata corporation may have created a rule that imposed a daily fine for every day that a breach of a rule continues. As at the date of this writing, the regulations do not permit a rule that imposes fines on a daily basis. 14 In this example, although the corporation’s rule continued to operate during the grace period, it was not enforceable on or after January 1, 2002 because it conflicts with the regulations.
- Strata Property Regulation, s. 17.10(1). ↩
- For information about common property or common assets, see Chapter 17, Common Property. ↩
- Strata Property Act, ss. 26, 50(1) and the Schedule of Standard Bylaws, s. 18. ↩
- Strata Property Regulation, s. 125(3), (4). ↩
- Strata Property Act, s. 65. ↩
- Strata Property Act, s. 125(6), (7). ↩
- Strata Property Act, ss. 121(1)(a) and 125(2). ↩
- Strata Property Act, s. 71. ↩
- Strata Property Act, ss. 69, 121(1)(b) and 125(2). ↩
- Strata Property Act, s. 121(1)(c). ↩
- Strata Property Act, s. 125(5). ↩
- Strata Property Regulation, s. 17.10. ↩
- Strata Property Regulation, s. 17.10(3). ↩
- Strata Property Act, s. 132(2) and Strata Property Regulation, s. 7.1(3). ↩