The Province

Beware bare-land strata costs

SLEEPING GIANT: Owners may be responsibl­e for many services

- Tony Gioventu

Dear Condo Smarts: We bought a lovely singlefami­ly home in a quiet Fraser Valley neigbourho­od 15 years ago.

Until this winter, we believed that living in a bareland strata was no different than owning a single-family home on a standard city lot.

The one difference was our community was gated and we had the use of a community clubhouse.

Now that our community is beginning to show its age, the real cost of living in a bareland unit has reared its head.

The heavy winter weather resulted in a number of water- and sewer-system failures in our complex. We wrongly believed that our sewer and storm-water discharge, like any other neighbourh­ood, was maintained by our local city.

Now, more than $250,000 later at $5,000 per home, we are suddenly aware of the costs and risks. Is it not the city’s responsibi­lity to maintain our services? We pay taxes like everyone else! Dear Dee and Karl: A bare-land strata is no different from any other strata.

The strata is responsibl­e for all common assets, common property and common insurance. Anything shown on the strata plan that is not part of a strata lot, including water lines, hydro, street lights, sewer systems, clubhouses, irrigation systems, roadways and sidewalks will all be the responsibi­lity of the strata.

Many bare-land strata owners are not prepared for the cost of a water-main break, sewer-line failure or repaving roadways.

There are literally tens of thousands of bare-land units in the province. Their common property includes golf courses, marinas, orchards, farmlands, forests, ski areas, and other recreation­al facilities.

Bare-land developmen­ts are frequently model communitie­s and can provide greater assets for lower costs shared by each unit, but the longterm costs may be high.

Once a service crosses the property line into the strata, the strata is responsibl­e. Water services, fire fighting and waste disposal are also services often provided by rural strata corporatio­ns, but they incur both higher operating costs and liability.

Bare-land strata corporatio­ns need to consider both their future costs and their liability. Your liability insurance is also extremely important in a bare-land strata. Bylaws can regulate the use of property like any other strata. However, there is one important difference: The strata has no insurable interest or obligation­s for buildings not shown on the strata plan that are on strata lots. You must maintain and repair your own strata lot, including your buildings.

Bare-land costs are a sleeping giant for the unaware strata community. Education is a key component to strata success.

Contact our office for informatio­n regarding a one-day strata symposium April 21 at Robson Square.

Tony Gioventu is the executive director of the Condominiu­m Home Owners Associatio­n (CHOA). Contact CHOA at 604-584-2462 or toll-free 1-877-353-2462, go to www.choa.bc.ca, fax 604515-9643, or e-mail tony@choa.bc.ca

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