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Delta wants province to protect strata owners, young families

Council is asking the provincial government to take whatever steps are necessary to protect the rights of existing strata owners and their immediate family members
Delta staff note that municipal authority to address the issue is limited and would, in any event, have to be consistent with provincial legislation.

The B.C. government needs to ensure that adequate protections are in place for strata owners and their families where 55-plus age restriction bylaws are implemented.

That’s the message Delta council will convey in a letter to Premier David Eby regarding recent amendments to the Strata Property Act and moves by some strata councils to circumvent the changes.

Some strata councils have reportedly already started the process of switching to become 55-plus residential complexes in response to the province’s legislative amendments to ban them from prohibiting rentals.

Last November, Bill 44 was introduced, the Building and Strata Statutes Amendment Act, 2022. It brought changes to the Strata Property Act including to previous rental and age restriction bylaws.

It means that if a strata corporation has a bylaw that sets any restrictions or limitations on rentals, it is no longer enforceable. The new rules apply to all strata lots in B.C. including bare land developments.

Only age restriction bylaws of 55-and-over that apply to occupancy are still enforceable.

While the age restriction does not prohibit older people from renting in 55-plus complexes, it would leave out younger people.

A staff report to council notes that if a strata council is considering a 55-plus age restricting bylaw, there must be a three-quarter vote of approval for the bylaw. Younger residents may oppose such a bylaw since it may negatively impact them in the future.

If a 55-plus age restricting bylaw were to be adopted, younger residents currently residing in the strata lot would be exempted.

The legislation is less clear whether any new resident in the same unit, such as new partners or children, would also be exempt from age-restriction bylaws, and this has been the subject of considerable concern for some strata unit owners, the report notes.

Coun. Dylan Kruger at council’s Feb. 6 meeting said he’s concerned a situation may arise in which younger people who don’t have children purchased a unit in a complex and are subsequently told to leave if their circumstances change.

“That is not in the spirit of trying to attract younger families or protect younger families to enter home ownership or to stay in our communities. I don’t think that was the intention of the legislation, but is an unintended consequence and one that should be taken very seriously. We’re trying to find solutions as a municipality and through the province to increase opportunities for young people to find housing solutions in our city centres and in Metro Vancouver, not to discourage it,” said Kruger.

The city has received letters of concern from residents and is aware of stratas in Delta that are actively considering moving to 55-plus, added Kruger.

The staff report also notes that the speed with which the legislative amendments came into effect prompted some strata corporations to start implementing bylaws to restrict renters to age 55-and -over, but several have since reversed course, fearing negative impacts on property values or owners' ability to sell units.

The report adds that it is still early days for the new legislation and Delta North MLA, and B.C. Housing Minister, Ravi Kahlon, has indicated that the government is monitoring for any unintended consequences, but that no immediate changes are being considered.

Rental restriction bylaws have already been banned in strata corporations formed since Jan. 1, 2010.

The latest change extends the ban on rental restrictions to stratas formed before that date.

The province estimates that there are 300,000 strata units built before 2010 that may still be subject to rental bans.