Every strata has different bylaws and rules that affect the strata lot owners’ rights and responsibilities, and apply to tenants and visitors as well. So they can have a major effect on what it’s like to live in a building – and how much you can sell it for.
Bylaws provide for the administration of the strata corporation, allowing it to control, manage, and maintain the use and enjoyment of the strata lots and common property. Stratas can create or amend their bylaws, typically by a three-quarter vote at their annual general meeting.
Rules can be created to govern the use, safety and condition of the common property and assets, but not individual strata lots.
Strata corporations must enforce their bylaws and rules, often by fining strata owners and residents who don’t follow them. Here are a few examples of typical bylaws:
- Age restrictions
- No smoking allowed
- No pets allowed
- Pets allowed with restrictions (these can limit the number of pets, or only allow cats but not dogs, or restrict the size of the dog, among other options)
- No rentals allowed
- Rentals allowed with restrictions (this usually limits the number of strata lots allowed to rent out at any one time, or it may specify a minimum rental term to discourage short-term Air B’n’B-type rentals).
So how do different bylaws affect your property’s value?
Age-restricted buildings, whether they are 19-plus or 55-plus, almost always sell for substantially less than those without age restrictions. The reason is pretty simple: these restrictions severely limit the number of potential buyers if children aren’t welcome to live there.
Smoking Bans and Restrictions
Some buildings ban smoking entirely, anywhere on the property, including in your own suite. Others just ban it on common property, including balconies, but allow you to smoke in your suite.
It’s difficult to put an actual price tag on a smoking ban, but it is definitely restrictive to those who smoke. I’ve had clients walk away from a building because it doesn’t allow smoking, I’ve had clients who were occasional smokers who didn’t have a problem with not smoking in their unit or on the balcony, and I’ve had clients who are very happy there is no smoking allowed in a building. It obviously depends on personal preference.
One very nice perk of non-smoking buildings is that the hallways don’t smell of smoke. I’ve also seen lovely suites sit on the market for much too long because they had smokers living in them and non-smokers are turned off by the odour.
Does it affect your property values? It is harder to sell properties that have a strong and unpleasant odour, so in that way it does. But there are still plenty of people who are not bothered by it and who do want to smoke in their homes.
This is a big one, especially here in Vancouver where people really love their dogs. People are always willing to pay more for a place if it allows their furry friend. This applies to rentals as well as owned property.
If dogs are not allowed by owners or their visitors, this will limit the number of people who will want to buy into the building – not only dog owners themselves, but their relatives as well. If the grandparents can’t welcome their grand-dog into their home when their daughter visits (or dog-sit for her when she’s away), that’s a deal breaker.
Of course, some people prefer buildings with no pets (for example, those with allergies or a fear of animals). Overall, though, properties sell for significantly more in stratas that allow pets compared with properties in stratas that do not. For example, in the past 60 days, one-bedroom condos in Vancouver’s West End that allow pets sold for 28 per cent more than those that don’t.
Rental Bans and Restrictions
Buildings that don’t allow rentals at all have significant appeal to some people, generally older folks who are more settled. They don’t want people moving in and out regularly, and also prefer the building to be strictly owner-occupied.
Buildings that allow rentals usually appeal to younger people, who might plan to rent their places out while travelling or working out of town and don’t want to be locked into owning a place that they aren’t allowed to rent out.
Buildings that allow rentals without any restrictions tend to have a lot of renters in them, as they are often bought by investors.
In some buildings, rental restrictions limit the number of units that may be rented at one time. This can feel restrictive to some buyers, but of course will appeal to others. Buildings with a longer minimum rental period (such as six months to a year) can appeal to people who are worried about the “what ifs” of the future and want to have the option of being able to rent their place out in the future.
Neighbourhood demographics play a major role in determining whether a higher price will be fetched by buildings that do not allow rentals or by those that do. We are seeing a change in some older buildings, as the demographics swing to a younger batch of owners. Bylaws are changing and becoming less restrictive, reflecting the needs and desires of a younger generation.
Enforcement and Fines
There are many different bylaws that a strata can make. Whether they can actually enforce them (and fine people who violate them) is another story. Some stratas make upwards of $40,000 a year from fining people for bylaws infractions from not cleaning up dog poop to not stopping and watching until the parking gate has closed. This money helps build a contingency fund or goes to cover other expenses the building may have.
So how do bylaws affect your condo’s value? It’s not a simple answer. In the end, if your building attracts the biggest pool of potential buyers possible (which may change from neighbourhood to neighbourhood), you have the best chance of achieving the highest price. If your building restricts everything from age to smoking to pets to rentals, you may find yourself waiting a long time for the rare buyer who actually finds all those restrictions appealing.