Q: What happens if I don’t pay my strata maintenance fees or a special levy?
A: Whether you are suffering financial hardship or are having a dispute with your strata corporation, you must continue to pay your strata maintenance fees and all special levies.
Under the Strata Property Act, SBC 1998, c.43, strata corporations are given powerful tools to help them collect debts from owners. Section 116 of the Strata Property Act permits strata corporations to file a Certificate of Lien, often called a strata lien, against a strata lot that has not paid its maintenance fees or a special levy. Strata liens rank in priority over mortgage and almost every other debt you may have, with the exception of a registered judgment against the strata corporation, a builders lien or charge in favour of the government (typically for unpaid taxes).
If an owner does not pay the amounts claimed under a strata lien, the strata corporation can initiate forced sale proceedings in Supreme Court. Unlike typical foreclosure proceedings where owners are often provided with lengthy periods of time to pay down their debt before losing their home, this isn’t the case where an owner owes money to their neighbors. In forced sale proceedings under the Strata Property Act, owners often have just 30 days to pay all arrears, including reasonable court costs and disbursements related to debt collection.
If you are unable to pay your strata maintenance fees or special levies, you should obtain legal advice as soon as possible.
For additional information on this and other strata property topics, visit my free online strata law guide at www.stratalaw.ca. Finally, always remember that this article provides general reference information, not legal advice. If you need assistance with a legal issue, speak with a strata lawyer.