The Province of B.C. says a new amendment to housing legislation will ensure people living in stratas with 55+ age restrictions can stay in their homes, despite family structure changes.
The Strata Property Regulation amendment, announced Monday, takes effect immediately and may be a relief to property owners, including some who claimed a change to Bill 44, effective Nov. 24, 2022, was a loophole upending the lives of buyers and renters.
In March, for example, CHEK News spoke with a Duncan condo owner whose previously 19+ strata had voted to go 55+. At the time, she worried the change would significantly lower her property’s value and affect her personal life.
“I can’t really move forward. If I wanted to move a roommate in to help with mortgage costs, I can’t unless they’re 55 — I’m only 30,” said Brianne Pascoe.
“I choose to sell, my property is now worth at least 30 per cent less,” she wrote in a letter to Premier David Eby, though some realtors told CHEK News that stratas opting for age restrictions weren’t necessarily impacting unit values.
“It’s not comparing apples to oranges. There’s the age of the building and so many different components with the strata. They’re all so different,” said Janet Scotland, a realtor and Vancouver Island Real Estate Board member.
Children, partners now allowed, no matter age
The B.C. government says the new amendment expands the list of exemptions to 55-and-over bylaws in strata buildings to include future children, dependents, spouses, partners and adult children of current residents.
“Starting a family is a big decision and big change for many people, and that shouldn’t come with the risk of people losing their home,” said Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon in a statement Monday.
“After hearing from a few people experiencing similar situations, we’ve made changes so they and others can grow their families or support their children while knowing that they’ll be able to stay in the home they know and love,” he said.
Yet, it was a foreshadowed change — in March, Premier Eby said an amendment was on the way to address issues facing Pascoe and other worried residents of 55+ stratas.
“So if there’s a change in family status or conditions, there’s some accommodation for them,” Condominium Home Owners’ Association of British Columbia’s executive director Tony Gioventu told CHEK News in a March 14 interview.
Last November, the B.C. government said nearly 2,900 units in strata buildings were sitting empty, with around 300,000 units built before 2010 still subject to rental bans.
That prompted the initial amendment to Bill 44 to end all rental-restriction bylaws and limit strata age-restriction bylaws to “promote seniors’ housing,” reads a release.
“After the bill was passed, tens of thousands of strata units opened up to renters and younger residents, providing more housing options. A few hundred strata corporations also moved to adopt 55+ age-restriction bylaws,” it says.
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While the change allowed live-in caregivers and people who were already lawfully residing in the units to live in 55-and-over buildings, the B.C. government says it realized existing residents’ future children, dependents or spouses were excluded.
Now, strata residents like Razan Talebian are breathing a sigh of relief.
“I’m relieved that the government has taken action to support families like mine and especially give back a homeowner’s right to decide if they want to start a family in the future,” said Talebian, a Maple Ridge strata resident, in a release.
“I was shocked at how much power stratas had and, on top of that, how inhumane they could legally be,” she added.