1. Read the strata plan.
All property is either part of the Strata Lot (what you will be buying) or Common Property (that owned by all the owners).
You may have some assigned to you property listed as Limited Common Property (LCP). This is common property that the strata owner has for his exclusive use. The most common LCPs are the balconies/ patios, the parking spots and the storage units. When buying a strata one must check that when you are buying a strata lot in which the parking and storage is LCP. If not, then you are buying your own property… since you already own common property and your storage or parking space(s) is assigned to you by convention and can be changed when property changes hands or at the whim of the strata council. (There are people who have bought stratas where they have been told they have ie. 2 parking places and the strata council has changed the rules and says everyone only gets one space.)
2. Read a minimum of two years strata minutes (If you have more questions, you can get earlier minutes, but 2 years is usually enough). The purpose of reading these minutes is to let you know how the strata is being run…
- Are they pro-active and on top of everything?
- Are there recurring things that happen… leaking in various suites, pipe problems, recurring theft in the parkade that are ignored?
- Are there problems that indicates assessments in the near future but have not been voted on yet?
Things to be fearful of …(don’t worry. You will recognize this when you see it.)
- A strata that has few or no minutes (this is not a problem in very small stratas – ie. 2 – 6 units in the strata.)
- A strata that is in a state of denial and not repairing obvious problems, (there are some stratas where they have serious structural problems or water problems but have not prepared for remediation.)
- A stratat that is ignoring engineer reports or won’t give them to you.
- When you ask a specific question you cannot get an answer so that you are left with an uneasy feeling.
What you might look for:
Long term repair plans. All stratas have big ticket items that come up. The primary ones are plumbing and a new roof. These are followed by balcony replacement, paint, new elevators, boilers etc. Are they preparing for these jobs if it has been a long time since the roof was replaced, or there are indications that a plan should be in place to deal with plumbing in the near future.
Consider creating your own contingency account if you feel the council is not preparing enough.
3. Form B gives specific information. It tells
- The monthly fees
- If the seller owes anything
- If the seller has any special agreements with the strata corporation (if the seller has made special alterations to the strata lot, they may not be covered under the strata’s insurance. ie hardwood floors when the original floors were carpet.)
- Any special levy that has already been approved
- Amount in contingency fund
There are several other information items you might want to know. If you are interested in buying a condo, give me a call. After all, you don’t want to buy a leaker!