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Letter: Removing 'owners-only' strata policies is a bad idea

This New Westminster strata owner isn't thrilled about a proposal to open up more strata rental options.
rental_condominium_strata
Removing rental restrictions from stratas could be bad for owners-only buildings, says this New Westminster property owner.

Editor:

An open letter to MLA Jennifer Whiteside, Premier David Eby, Mayor Patrick Johnstone and New Westminster city council:

I am very upset at the proposed change to strata legislation that will not allow for a strata board to have an "owners only" policy.  Please do not make me think that my vote for you was misspent.

We are a retired couple who bought and moved into our condo in early 2018 in the Berkley tower on Princess Street in New Westminster, with one of the reasons being that it was an owner-only building. Because of the prevalence of people buying suites and houses in the Lower Mainland for investments and rentals, we specifically looked for a building with a no-rental bylaw. It is a well-maintained and looked-after building because we are all "invested," physically and financially, in keeping it that way. Our strata council carefully maintains a good contingency fund.

The owners have funded, through the contingency fund, strata fees and levies the following during the five years we have lived here:

  • the painting of the entire outside of the building
  • the removal of old elevators and installation of two new ones
  • new boilers for hot water
  • re-piping of all the intake water pipes in the suites and common areas

All of these renovations have been approved, financed and endured by the owners because we live here and we care for our building because it’s our collective home.  An absent landlord may not be interested in financing these kind of considerable expenses as it will cut into the money received for rent. They will have no vested interest in maintaining the building as long as they receive their rent and may well vote against these necessary but expensive renovations. 

Renters, too, may not be interested in the long-term maintenance of the building as their investment is in monthly rent payments, not the longtime welfare of the building and its residents.

We have strict rules for the moving in and out of furniture/appliances at any time and when an apartment is sold. This is done so that the elevators do not suffer breakdowns etc. The possibilities of abuse looms large when little control is had over renters moving out and off-site owners, and the strata council may not even know that the renters have gone. The elevator may shut down due to uncontrolled holding of the elevator doors to loading and unloading and will require re-programming to bring it back into service.

Many of the owners have lived here since the building was built 23 years ago, and we don’t just live in our own apartments; we enjoy and maintain all the common areas, too, and the security of the building.

Please do not change so fundamentally the lives of so many people to supposedly free up some units to renters in the entire province.

It would surely better serve the citizens of B.C. to stop renovictions and the subsequent removal of affordable rented apartments, build more rental units and to put a stop to rising rents in this province.

Anna Bjarnason, New Westminster

📢 SOUND OFF: What do you think of Premier David Eby's proposed changes to housing regulations? Send us a letter.

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