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New Strata Property Act amendments: What you need to know about the end of rental and age restrictions, and new virtual meetings permissions


  • Stratas can no longer enforce rental restrictions, except for short-term rental restrictions.
  • There are now only two age-related options for stratas: a bylaw requiring at least one resident in a unit to be 55 years-old or older; or no age restriction bylaw.
  • Stratas can now conduct annual and special general meetings virtually without a bylaw explicitly allowing them to do so.


The BC government’s Bill 44 amendments to the Strata Property Act are now in effect. These amendments end rental restrictions, all but one age restriction, and add the ability to hold virtual meetings without the need for a bylaw.

Here’s a quick overview of what these new rules will mean for your clients who own, or are looking to buy, strata properties.

Rental restrictions

  • Stratas can no longer enforce rental restrictions. For example, if a strata has a bylaw restricting rentals to a certain percentage of units, they can no longer enforce this rule.
  • This only applies to long-term rentals. Stratas can still enforce short-term rental restrictions.
  • Renters still need to follow other strata bylaws.
  • While owners currently renting out their units previously in contravention of a strata bylaw are no longer in breach of the bylaw, they are liable for any breach of a rental restriction prior to November 24, 2022 – when the amendments became law.

Age restrictions

  • There are now only two age-related options for stratas:
    • a bylaw requiring at least one resident in a unit to be 55 years-old or older; or
    • no age restriction bylaw.
  • All other age restrictions are unenforceable, including restrictions for older or younger ages. For example, a strata requiring residents be 60 years old or older can no longer enforce this rule.
  • This rule has no relation to rental restrictions – a 55+ strata can’t restrict rentals.
  • Live-in caregivers are allowed to live in age-restricted stratas, including caregivers under the age of 55, regardless of current strata bylaws.

Virtual/electronic strata meetings

  • Stratas can now conduct annual and special general meetings virtually without a bylaw explicitly allowing them to do so.
  • The strata council chooses the format of the meeting, which the council must include in the notice sent to residents.
  • Along with the date, time, and type of meeting, stratas must include instructions on how to attend.
  • Stratas can use any electronic meeting tool so long as it allows all meeting participants to communicate with each other, and the chair can determine if the participants are eligible voters.
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While typically a quiet month of market activity based on seasonal patterns, November home sale and listing totals lagged below the region’s long-term averages.

Sales

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential home sales in the region totalled 1,614 in November 2022, a 52.9 per cent decrease from the 3,428 sales recorded in November 2021, and a 15.2 per cent decrease from the 1,903 homes sold in October 2022.

Last month’s sales were 36.9 per cent below the 10-year November sales average.

“With the most recent core inflation metrics showing a stubborn reluctance to respond significantly to the furious pace of rate increases, the Bank of Canada may choose to act more forcefully to bring inflation back toward target levels.” Andrew Lis, REBGV’s director, economics and data analytics said. “While it’s always difficult to predict what the bank will do with certainty, this persistent inflationary backdrop sets up the December 7 rate announcement to be yet another increase, making holiday-season home purchases something people may end up foregoing this year.”

Listings

There were 3,055 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver in November 2022. This represents a 22.9 per cent decrease compared to the 3,964 homes listed in November 2021 and a 24.2 per cent decrease compared to October 2022 when sellers listed 4,033 homes.

The total number of homes currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 9,179, a 28.5 per cent increase compared to November 2021 (7,144) and a 6.8 per cent decrease compared to October 2022 (9,852).

“Heading into 2023, the market continues the trend of shifting toward historical averages and typical seasonal norms,” Lis said. “Whether these trends continue will depend on looming economic factors and forthcoming housing policy measures on the horizon, which hold the potential to reignite uncertainty in our market.

“With that said, from a long-term structural standpoint, the current pace of listings and available inventory remain relatively tight when considered against a backdrop of continued in-migration to the province. With the recently announced increase in federal immigration targets, the state of available supply in our market remains one demand surge away from renewed price escalation, despite the inflationary environment and elevated mortgage rates.”

Sales-to-active listings ratio

For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for November 2022 is 17.6 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 13.2 per cent for detached homes, 19.7 per cent for townhomes, and 20.8 per cent for apartments.

Generally, analysts say downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below 12 per cent for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20 per cent over several months.

Home prices

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,131,600. This represents a 0.6 per cent decrease over November 2021, a 10.2 per cent decrease over the last six months, and a 1.5 per cent decrease compared to October 2022.

Broken down by property type

Sales of detached homes in November 2022 reached 486, a 50.8 per cent decrease from the 987 detached sales recorded in November 2021. The benchmark price for detached properties is $1,856,800. This represents a 1.7 per cent decrease from November 2021 and a 1.9 per cent decrease compared to October 2022.

Sales of apartment homes reached 847 in November 2022, a 53.7 per cent decrease compared to the 1,828 sales in November 2021. The benchmark price of an apartment property is $720,500. This represents a 3.5 per cent increase from November 2021 and a 0.9 per cent decrease compared to October 2022.

Attached home sales in November 2022 totalled 281, a 54.2 per cent decrease compared to the 613 sales in November 2021. The benchmark price of an attached unit is $1,027,900. This represents a 2.7 per cent increase from November 2021 and a 1.5 per cent decrease compared to October 2022.

 
 
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At a glance :

  • The federal ban on foreign buyers is coming January 1, 2023.
  • The period will last two years.
  • The ban will only apply to residential property.

The federal government’s ban on new foreign ownership of residential property becomes law on January 1, 2023, disallowing anyone who isn’t a Canadian citizen or permanent resident from buying residential real estate for two years.

During this period, the federal government plans to work with provinces and municipalities to develop a framework to better regulate the role of foreign buyers in the housing market to ensure housing is available for and used by Canadians.

The Liberal Party promised the ownership ban in the 2021 election and rolled it out in the federal Budget 2022: a plan to grow our economy and make life more affordable. The budget was clear on the government’s goals:

“We will do everything we can to make the market fairer for Canadians. We will prevent foreign buyers from parking their money in Canada by buying up homes. We will make sure that houses are being used as homes, rather than as commodities to be traded,” – Budget 2022.

To this end, the government tabled Bill C-19,  Budget Implementation Act, 2022, No. 1. It received Royal Assent on June 23, 2022. Section 235 of the bill is the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act.

Who can’t buy residential property?

The act defines a non-Canadian as:

  1. an individual who is neither a Canadian citizen nor a person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act nor a permanent resident;
  2. a corporation that is incorporated otherwise than under the laws of Canada or a province;
  3. a corporation incorporated under the laws of Canada or a province whose shares are not listed on a stock exchange in Canada for which a designation under section 262 of the Income Tax Act is in effect and that is controlled by a person referred to in paragraph (a) or (b); and
  4. a prescribed person or entity.

Exceptions

Include:

  • A temporary resident within the meaning of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act; or
  • A non-Canadian who buys residential property with a Canadian spouse or common-law partner if the spouse or common-law partner is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act.

Residential property

Includes any real property or immovable that is:

  1. a detached house or similar building, containing not more than three dwelling units;
  2. a semi-detached house, rowhouse unit, residential condominium unit or other similar premises, vacant land, where the land has been zoned for residential use or mixed use and is within a Census Metropolitan Area (having a population of at least 100,000) or Census Agglomeration (having a population of at least 10,000); or
  3. any prescribed real property or immovable.

Penalties

Non-Canadians found guilty of contravening the act are subject to a fine of not more than $10,000. If the federal government orders the sale of the property, the non-Canadian buyer won’t receive more than the amount paid for the property.

Property Purchased by a Non-Canadian Before January 1, 2023

The ban doesn’t apply if the agreement of purchase and sale of the residential property involving a non-Canadian is dated before January 1, 2023.

Regulations

Future regulations will provide details on transactions deemed prohibited purchases, including whether exceptions apply to conditional contracts entered into before January 1, 2023, that become unconditional on or after January 1, 2023.

 

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