Smarts condo: is Airbnb rental covered by a 50-year regulatory exemption?


Dear Tony: We purchased our townhouse in 2014. At the time, it was a new development in Burnaby and the developer landlord filed a rental disclosure document that exempted all strata lots, 1-68, rental regulations until June 1, 2064. Basically our building is exempt for 50 years. We decided to rent our unit on Airbnb and were informed by the Strata Council that there was a bylaw prohibiting short term rentals and that we would be subject to a fine of $ 1,000 per day if we proceeded. They gave us a 30 day warning to honor our reservations and allow us to comply. We asked for a copy of the regulations and then discovered older regulations that confuse the whole issue. Because the regulation refers to leasing, don’t we have the same exemption under the owner-developer exemption?

Sarah P.

The promoter-owner exemptions apply to two different periods. Prior to 2010, any strata plan filed with an owner disclosure exemption only applied to the first buyer. Once the first buyer sells or transfers the lot by way of inheritance or transfer, the exemption ends. After January 1, 2010, the exemption applies to the strata lots identified on the form and for the prescribed period as in your corporation stratum. The sale or transfer does not affect this exemption. Short-term housing, or as noted by local governments in regulations on “short-term rental” permits and licenses, is not exempt in the disclosure. Short-term accommodations are not rental agreements or leases of 30 days or more. They are not subject to the residential tenancy law. These are commercial use arrangements, such as hotel use, and subject to law enforcement. The maximum fine allowed in the regulations is $ 1,000 per day; however, the company must adopt the maximum fine in its articles for this to be enforceable. The limits and frequency of fines require a modification of the municipal by-law and a 3/4 vote at an annual or special general meeting for approval and must be filed in the land titles register to be enforceable. The corporate stratum must provide a copy of the corporation’s articles of association upon request.

I have reviewed the articles of incorporation of your corporate stratum and no amendment to the articles has ever been filed to increase the penalty to $ 1,000 per day. The current penalty for violation of regulations is a maximum of $ 200 per week. This is a common mistake of stratum councils. While maximum fines are allowed, they must be passed as rule amendments and filed to be enforceable. The tabling of new bylaws that have been duly ratified at general meetings is only part of the rule changes. The strata corporation must also include the resolutions it voted on to approve the bylaws. These resolutions indicate whether the statutes in force are amended or whether statutes are repealed and replaced. Resolutions may have a greater impact and outcome on the enforceability of statutes than the statutes themselves. Do not rely on the most recent version of the filed rule changes. There could be years of filings that have only been amended or changed without an amendment specifying the sequence of claims. A thorough legal review of the schedules of filed regulations is essential to ensure that your stratum company’s regulations do not contradict intent and are enforceable.

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Tony Gioventu is Executive Director of the Condominium Home Owners Associationof BC

Always include your strata plan number if you ask for help.

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