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How many times have you heard the story "we were told we could rent our condo, but we found out the strata has a bylaw" or "we rented when we first bought the unit, but everything changed"? The landscape of rental bylaws in condo buildings is difficult to navigate at the best of times unless you have accurate information and your strata understands how to administer rental bylaws. So can you rent your unit or not? Read on!
Bylaws that prohibit or limit rentals are permitted for residential strata corporations or residential strata lots in a mixed-use strata property. Whether it is a duplex, bare land strata, high-rise or mid-rise, a strata corporation by a three-quarter vote resolution may adopt bylaws that limit or prohibit rentals. If you are purchasing an existing strata lot that was filed before 2010, odds are you will be affected by a rental bylaw, or the strata may adopt a rental bylaw in the future that may change the use of your property.
There are three types of exemptions that apply to rental bylaws, and, for the first-time buyer or investor, it is critical to understand how they apply.
A rental disclosure exemption can be filed by the owner developer when the strata is first created. For strata corporations that were created and filed in the Land Title Registry before January 1, 2010, if the owner developer filed a rental disclosure, they commonly identified the strata lots and did not set a limit on the time period. Therefore, the exemption from rental bylaws only applies to the owner developer and the first purchaser. If you purchased from the first buyer, this exemption will not apply to you.
If the strata was filed in the Land Title Registry on or after January 1, 2010, the rental disclosure had to identify the strata lots and the date of expiry. The difference is the exemption applies to whoever owns the strata lot until the expiry date, many of which are 99 years. When you request a Form B Information Certificate from the strata, they must attach a copy of the rental disclosure if one exists.
The other two exemptions are family rentals and hardship exemptions.
As an owner, you may rent to your or your spouse’s children or parents. If you are experiencing a hardship, such as a financial or medical difficulty requiring you to rent your unit, you may apply to the strata corporation for an exemption from the bylaws. The strata will likely require you to provide evidence of your hardship and may request personal information; however, they must not unreasonably refuse the application.
When a strata counts rentals to administer a bylaw limit, they may not include hardship, family rentals or owner developer exemptions as they are defined by the Strata Property Act as being exempt from rental bylaws. Owners of strata lots must still provide a Form K Notice of Tenant’s Responsibilities to the strata corporation, and you must also comply with occupant age restriction bylaws.
An exemption from a rental bylaw is not an exemption from an enforceable age restriction bylaw. Before you purchase and before you rent, obtain a copy of the strata rental bylaws and identify if there is an owner developer rental disclosure that may apply. If there is a rental bylaw, apply to council before you rent to confirm there are vacancies in the rental limit.