Creating Enforceable Rental Restrictions

Enacting rental restriction bylaws can be trickier than originally contemplated for several reasons: the original state of the bylaws, the delaying provisions in the Strata Property Act, situations that prevent rental restriction bylaws from applying to some or all of the strata lots, and the requirements that must be met for rental restriction bylaws to be valid.

Drafting bylaws should always be done by a lawyer because unenforceable bylaws can prevent a strata corporation from collecting fines or gaining compliance from owners. Further, if bylaws are not drafted clearly, they only cause confusion when enforcing them against owners.

In the case of Louie v The Owners, Strata Plan LMS 2093, 2017 BCCRT 72,  an owner sued the strata corporation saying that she had the right to rent her strata lot out. The strata corporation thought it already had a rental restriction bylaw from 2000 onward. However, the bylaw only stated that all strata lots must be owner occupied. Further, the strata corporation attempted to 'grandfather' all current owners on June 1, 2000 and permit them to continue renting their strata lots as long as they owned their strata lot.

Later, in 2012, the strata corporation passed a bylaw that prohibited all rentals (except for the statutory exemptions under the Strata Property Act). The bylaw resolutions clarified rental restriction bylaw was merely an amendment of the previous bylaw that required owner occupation.

In 2016, the strata corporation demanded that the owner stop renting out her strata lot.

The CRT first noted that any bylaw that required strata lots to be owner occupied have been found by the courts to be unenforceable and invalid bylaws. As a result, the strata didn't have any rental restriction bylaws until 2012. Therefore, the rental restriction bylaw approved in 2012 was a new rental restriction bylaw and the transition period applied to that bylaw for all strata lots:
143  (1) Subject to subsection (4), a bylaw that prohibits or limits rentals does not apply to a strata lot until the later of
(a) one year after a tenant who is occupying the strata lot at the time the bylaw is passed ceases to occupy it as a tenant, and
(b) one year after the bylaw is passed.
The CRT found that the rental restriction bylaw applied to Louie's strata lot as of November 2013 because her tenant had moved out as of November 2012. After November 2013, Louie was breaching the rental restriction bylaw.

Even though the strata could fine the owner $500 for a breach of the rental bylaw and $500 each week that the breach continued, the strata never actually levied any fines against the owner. 

In the end, the owner lost and the CRT ordered the owner to stop renting her strata lot in breach of the bylaws and had to reimburse the strata corporation its $225 in fees it incurred.


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